THE DISPENSATIONAL EXPOSITIONS OF THE
Parables and Prophecies of Christ
BY J.R. GRAVES, LL.D.,
CHAPTER XXIII. THE LAW OF BENEVOLENCE. THE GOOD SAMARITAN. --Luke x. 30-37.
--Luke x. 27,28.
Such substance is the ingenious but baneful and trifling interpretation of this parable by these great minds, which lead us away from the real and manifest intent of our Lord when He spake this parable, which unquestionably was the elucidation and enforcement of the second great command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," as the universal law of benevolence.
THE LESSONS OF THIS PARABLE. 1. That benevolence is not to be circumscribed by national boundaries.
The Jews were commanded not to be familiar with idolatrous nations, lest they should affiliate with them in their idolatrous practices, and they were enjoined to maintain a perpetual enmity with Amalek and the seven idolatrous nations of Canaan, whom God had 'cast out before them,' and had devoted to ruin; but prohibition did not warrant them, as they came to believe, to hate all mankind, save their own nation, and confine all their intercourse and regard and love to their own kindred and people.
The Jews being in an especial manner the chosen people of God, they were required to shun and hate the wicked ways, and uproot the idolatries of the Canaanites, who were ever seeking to seduce them from the worship of the true God into their abominable wickedness, but they interpreted this that they should hate their persons also. While these injunctions were most explicit and rigorous, yet the laws which God enjoined upon them with respect to strangers within their gates, and travelers who might pass through their land, or who came to sojourn among them, were of the most lenient, protective character.
'The shall not oppress the stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were once strangers in the land of Egypt.' But that old dispensation of exclusiveness had now served its purpose. The middle wall, or partition, was to be broken down. Christianity, under the new covenant, was not to be a race religion--not for one nation or people only, but 'for the whole world.'
It has been truly said:
"Christianity knows no geographical boundaries, no treaty limits, no barrier of language, customs or climes. It recognizes no distinctions of sex or color, of estate, of education; 'it represents us all of one blood, the offspring of a common father, for to him is provided one common Redeemer, and before whom lies a common death, a common judgment, and a common eternity.'"
The parable teaches us:
2. That our benevolence must not be limited by our SYMPATHIES.
That those of our own nation, kindred and faith have the first claims upon our benevolence, is a matter our own consciousness, and is clearly recognized by Christ:
'Ye shall be witnesses unto me [first] in Jerusalem and Judea, and [then in] Samaria, and [added to these] to the uttermost part of the earth.' 'That repentance and remission of sins should be preached unto all nations, beginning at [home] Jerusalem.'
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10)
This parable teaches us:
3. That we should not limit our benevolence by our PERSONAL FRIENDSHIPS.
Between the Samaritans and the Jews there was the most implacable hatred. There was no social inter- course. The Jews cursed the Samaritans publicly in the synagogue--declared that he who received one into his house was laying up curses for his children; would no more eat of their food than they would eat swine's flesh. All this animosity was fully reciprocated by the Samaritan, who sought in every way to vex and annoy the Jew. But all this weighed as nothing in the case before us, nor should it with us in the administration of our benevolence. It is enough for us to know that our fellow-beings are in want, or perishing for lack of our assistance. We should, if the children of light, be actuated by the sublime unselfish- ness of the gospel.
Christ, in His sermon on the mount, reinstated, in clearest light, God's law, perverted by Talmudic traditions: 'Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time [the scribes and Pharisees], Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good unto them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.' This sublime morality is not of earth earthy; it was never conceived by man, and it can never be practiced by one born of the earth only.
It is related of an Indian chief, whom David Brainard had taught to read, and to whom he gave a New Testament, after reading this passage, and walking the room for some time in deepest thought, he gave the Testament back to the missionary, shaking his head, saying, 'This book was never made for Indian.' Nor was it made for a Jew, but for Christians only.
Christ adds the reason for the exercise of this unselfish God-like spirit, 'That ye may be [may show your- selves to be] the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.'
I repeat, this true spirit of love and Christ-like benevolence can be found only in the hearts of those 'born of God.' It is only as we are imbued with the spirit and love of Christ that we can love like Christ.
What a great argument for missions is furnished by this parable, not indeed by a real precept, but by clear induction.
As the soul is of transcendently more value than the body, and the eternal of more importance than the temporal, how much weightier the obligations laid upon us to administer to the wants of the soul than of the body. Shall we imitate the part of the priest and Levite, and pass by on the other side, and leave our own countryman to perish by the wayside without administering to their wants? Shall we refuse to act the part of a neighbor to perishing nations that are going down to death before our eyes, unblessed with gospel light and uninvited by the offer of salvation? I see not how we can be a true lover of his race who re- refuses to aid in the great missionary work of giving the gospel of man's salvation to the millions of our race in heathen lands, lying not half dead, but wholly dead, in trespasses and sins for the want of those means of grace that we have in our power to give without being impoverished by the giving. I can not understand how one can have the spirit of Christ, and the heart of Christ, without possessing an active missionary spirit.
The heart of Christ was a missionary heart. The spirit of Christ was an intensely missionary spirit. To be a missionary to this lost world He impoverished Himself. 'He who was rich for our sake became poor that we, through His poverty, might become rich.' To be a missionary to us, who lay helpless and dying under the curse of God's violated law, He sacrificed Himself--gave Himself to death--even the death of the cross--that He might place thrones under our bodies and crowns upon our brows; and yet we refuse to give, even to sacrifice, to send living preachers and spirit- speaking Bibles into all the corners of the earth, thus obeying the last command of our Redeemer: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.' Oh, how should the example and love of Christ constrain us!
While I can but condemn the fanciful interpretation of this parable I have noticed above, yet I am willing to accept it in one of its aspects as illustrative of the unspeakable love of the Lord Jesus for us as lost, miserable sinners.
If we admire the conduct of the Samaritan, infinitely more must we admire the love of Christ. He beheld us robbed of the image of God, wounded by sin, lying helpless in our fallen humanity; and when we were so dead in iniquity that we could not help ourselves, when the Patriarchal dispensation stalked by on the other side and deigned no help; when the Levitical dispensation came and looked on us through its shadowy cer monies, and then, leaving us in our blood, passed by also on the other side: then Christ came, and, though we were His enemies, He pitied us, bound up, by the oil and wine of divine grace, our ghastly wounds; Him- self bare our infirmities, took the whole charge of our cure, and healed us--not like the Samaritan, by giving money from His scrip, but blood from His heart, driven by the soldier's spear; blood from His head, drawn out by His acanthine crown; blood from His hands and feet, started by the spikes of the accursed tree; and by this precious blood-shedding He obtained for us relief from our enemies, spiritual health here, and life eternal beyond the grave. 'Oh, for such love let rocks and hills Their lasting silence break! And all harmonious human tongues Our Saviour's praises speak. Angels, assist our mighty joys-- Strike all your harps of gold! But when you reach your highest notes, His love can ne'er be told.'
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