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Monday, October 24, 2011

Preaching the Parable of the Good Samaritan pt. 1

How is it possible to say anything new about the most familiar parable in the world? Yesterday I faced that question as I preached the parable of the Good Samaritan to the Oregon City Church of Christ. I was honored to fill in while the ministers were away and I continued their series on the parables of Jesus. I chose the Good Samaritan, in part, because I already have a familiarity with it, but that familiarity was the first hurdle I would face.

It's possible that the parable of the Prodigal Son is as well known as that of the Good Samaritan, but that's only to say that they are among the very few stories of Jesus that have infiltrated popular culture. It's common to hear a news story about a Good Samaritan who helps someone in need. There are hospitals all over the nation named after the compassionate deeds of a character in a story. We hear this message and have our immediate expectations about how it ought to be interpreted.

The Good Samaritan is obviously a story about why we should take care of people on the side of the road. We need to look after the weak and injured among us. Even a lowly Samaritan did the same and showed mercy on an injured, naked man. And we leave it at that point. Our familiarity prevents us from seeing any more than just the beginning of the point.

I believe that what we've turned into the main point of the parable is a secondary point and that Jesus was wanting to communicate something more by the telling of the story. But I'll dig into that a bit more tomorrow.

How do you deal with familiarity when you teach on common texts?

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