I would bet my house that most xtians love this tale. “Oh, I love that parable! One of Jesus’ best! The good Samaritan was so awesome in that story and the religious leaders were so mean!”
For the rare person who doesn’t know the story, an expert in the law was questioning Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” One of Jesus’ replies was “Love your neighbor as yourself”. And the lawyer asks “who is my neighbor”? Jesus tells the story of a traveler was beaten, stripped, robbed and was left half dead on the road to Jericho. A Priest passes by and does not help. A Levite (religious leader) passes by and does not help. A Samaritan bandaged him up, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn, and paid for his care.
Who was the Samaritan?
Samaritans, in Jesus’ time, were the hated arch-enemies of all Jews. A Samaritan was considered so vile that Jews were not allowed to speak to Samaritans. Jesus’ audience would have not even considered it possible that a Samaritan could be “good”. In fact, even today in 2021, Jewish law forbids any Jew from marrying a Samaritan. The Samaritan is whoever you would throw out of your congregation – gay? trans? drag queen? gang members? sex worker? stinking homeless drunk beggar? atheist? democrat?
That’s the person who stopped to help the injured Jew. (And the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was probably deliberately chosen because it was so unsafe that everyone knew to travel in groups – thieves and bandits were very common – so Jesus’ listeners would probably have concluded that the injured guy was so stupid, traveling alone, that he deserved whatever he got.) And yet, the most disgusting, reprehensible person they could possibly imagine was the one who actually helped. He did this when the HOLY people went to the other side of the road and walked on by.
Jesus then asked the lawyer, “who was a neighbor to the one who was robbed?” “The one who had mercy on him.” “Go and do likewise.”
So, to recap:
A present-day preacher is telling the tale one Sunday and frames the Samaritan correctly. He asks his congregation: “Who was a neighbor to the one who was robbed?” The congregation mumbles “the goddamned lib’rul atheist faggot”. The preacher responds “Jesus says to go and do likewise.” One hour later, a member of the congregation is on the phone: “Oh that’s horrible! I’m so very sorry that’s happened to you! You’ll definitely be in my prayers! But now I have to go – I’m in the parking lot and God’s going to find me a space. Isn’t God the best? Talk to you later!”
What must I do to inherit eternal life? Care for others.