Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Many of you have been Christians for a lot longer than I have, and have heard dozens of sermons on the Good Samaritan parable. My guess is that you have heard a preacher talk about how Jesus’ story challenges racism between Jews and Samaritans. Our neighbors can be anyone whom God made, not just our own color, kin, and kind.
On a day like today, it might seem appropriate to preach a sermon like that.
Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, LA this week.
Philando Castile was killed by police in St. Paul, MN this week.
Five police officers were killed and seven more injured in Dallas this week.
But something needs to be altered about that interpretation of the Gospel text. We are not able to make a direct connection between Good Samaritan and race relations in USA
Usually the preacher says something like this: Jews and Samaritans hated one another; blacks and whites hate one another. Jewish lawyer didn't want to consider everyone a neighbor; whites and blacks in America often don't want to associate (for many years, segregation laws made doing so illegal). Jesus pushed Jewish lawyer past his prejudice by teaching him to imitate a Samaritan; whites and blacks can reconcile like this through Christ
But this is overly simplistic. It misses important differences between contexts of 1st century Palestine and 21st century USA.
Jews and Samaritans generally did hate each other, but for vastly different reasons than white-black tension in US.
How is our current context different?