Does the Bible have Deep and Mysterious Hidden Meanings? + What Does the Parable of the Good Samaritan Mean? #335
Happy U.S. Thanksgiving, everybody! Shortish episode today, and we’ll be reading 1 Chronicles 22, Micah 1, Luke 10 and 1 Peter 3. Our focus will be on Luke 10, but one brief word from 1 Peter 3:9:
9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.
Brothers and sisters, there will be times in our life when people unfairly insult us, harm us, attack us, or do other sorts of evil to us. If you ever want to know how to respond to such things, maybe bookmark 1 Peter 3:9 in your mind. We don’t pay back evil for evil or insult for insult, but we are a people of blessing!
Let’s talk about the parable of the Good Samaritan – one of the simplest and most well known parables of Jesus, and one that is so clear in its meaning that the thicky disciples didn’t even have to ask Jesus what He meant by it! Sometimes we preachers and scholars complicate that which should be plain and simple. An example of this can be seen from many of the early church fathers, who struggled with this parable, perhaps because it was so clear and simple…they wanted more. Augustine and Origen and many others of them went WAY beyond what was written. Origen, writing in the 200s, wrote:
The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the Law, the Levite is the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience, the beast is the Lord’s body, the [inn], which accepts all who wish to enter, is the Church…The manager of the [inn] is the head of the Church, to whom its care has been entrusted. And the fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior’s second coming.]
I do NOT believe that is what is going on here…rather, it is as simple and clear as it appears to be. Let’s read the chapter, and then we will briefly discuss.
So, again – this one is crystal clear. Are there super secret and hidden meanings and mysterious codes and such like that in the Bible? I suppose it is possible, but I am very skeptical, particularly about Bible code stuff. I think we would do well to devote ourselves to understanding the clear meaning of Scripture, rather than looking for deep and hidden meanings. Nehemiah 8 gives us a great look and what exactly preachers and teachers of the Word of God should do:
7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the law to the people as they stood in their places. 8 They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
Will people think you are a super genius when you do that? Will you sell millions of books and become a celebrity simply from reading the Word of God and explaining the meaning so that people could understand the Word? Maybe not, but that is what every preacher and teacher MUST do! And here is the result of a ministry like that:
12 Then all the people began to eat and drink, send portions, and have a great celebration, because they had understood the words that were explained to them.
I hope that is good enough for me, and for you – those of you who teach the Word of God to others! One could spend years trying to puzzle out the hidden code or secret symbolism of The Good Samaritan parable, but I believe its meaning is as plain as the nose on my face:
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”
What are we to do? What the Samaritan did: Spend our time, money, resources and risk ourselves to help our neighbors in need. Who is our neighbor? The person God puts in front of us that has a need. It is really very simple! Do this, and you will live, says Jesus. We are to be a people of mercy, because God desires mercy out of us, and because God showed us mercy. GO AND DO LIKEWISE!
By the way, if you need any more motivation to this sort of ministry, do remember that the true and ultimate and greater Good Samaritan is the one who saved you and I when we were naked and bleeding and not half dead, but all of the way dead in our sins, as brother Spurgeon reminds us:
The Samaritan is a model for those who would help the afflicted. But we have a higher model—the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was not preaching about himself at all. Yet we may illustrate our Lord’s goodness by it. This is a picture of a generous-hearted man who cares for the needy, but the most generous-hearted man that ever lived was the Man of Nazareth, and none ever cared for sick and suffering souls as he has done. The wounded man could not blame himself for his sad estate; it was his misfortune, not his fault. But you and I are not only half dead but altogether dead in trespasses and sins, and we have brought many of our ills on ourselves. The thieves that have stripped us are our own iniquities. The wounds we bear have been inflicted by our own suicidal hands. We are not in opposition to Jesus Christ as the poor Jew was to the Samaritan from the mere force of prejudice, but we have been opposed to the blessed Redeemer by nature. We have, from the first, turned away from him. We have resisted and rejected him. The poor man did not put his Samaritan friend away, but we have done so to our Lord. Wonderful love moved the Savior’s heart when he found us in all our misery and bent over us to lift us out of it, though he knew we were his enemies.
Spurgeon, The Spurgeon Study Bible: Notes (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1391.