The Lord relates the Parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate the answer to a question asked by a lawyer and to get him to answer that question himself (Luke 10:25-29). Luke wries in Luke 10:25, "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" No question could be more important than this. However, the lawyer was not sincere. He asked the question to tempt (test) Jesus. Jesus did not fall for the trap, of course, but asked him a question, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" (Luke 10:26).
The lawyer answered correctly (Luke 24:17). Jesus responded, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Luke 10:28). Only by keeping God's commandments can one have eternal life (Matt. 19:16-22; Luke 18:18-23). James Burton Coffman writes:
This mountain fact sends every man to Christ for salvation; only he kept God's commandments perfectly. Every soul seeking salvation must: (1) keep perfectly the sum total of God's commandments, or (2) accept identity with Christ, absolutely, who did observe all of the Father's commandments. Only Christ can save; for only he fully obeyed. The lawyer who asked the question of how to win eternal life, seeing the true answer, quailed in Jesus' presence, and then sought to justify himself on a technicality.
The lawyer answered Jesus' question, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:28). This is the correct answer. Jesus had said in Matthew 27:37-40, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Luke writes in Luke 10:29, "But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?" His conscience was hurting because he realized that he had not been loving God and his neighbor as himself. So, to tryi to justify his lack of love for his neighbor, he asks, "Who is my neighbor?"
Jesus relates the Parable of the Good Samaritan to show the lawyer who his neighbor was and what it meant to love him.
Coffman lists a number of analogies in this parable. We will not get into these here, but encourage you to go to Coffman for a discussion of the analogies. We will concentrate here on the question of "who is my neighbor?"
"A Certain Man Went Down From Jerusalem to Jericho" - Luke 10:30
Jesus is correct in His assertion that the man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. According to Jewish historian Josephus:
THE city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had but one wall. The city was built upon two hills, which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end.1.
Jericho, on the other hand, was located in the Jordan River Valley (Joshua 3:15-16. Though Jericho was Northeast of Jerusalem, it was down from Jerusalem! Inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia will understand this as the Shenandoah River is one of the few rivers in North America that flows Northward. When one goes down the Valley he is traveling North.