The Good Samaritan

What might the parable of The Good Samaritan look like today?

We did some secret filming in Reading city centre to see if anybody would lend their phone to a vicar… or a rough sleeper.

Does the vicar deserve help more than the rough sleeper?

In the Good Samaritan story Jesus is asked who exactly is my ‘neighbour’ in the command ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Where do you draw the line? Who am I meant to love?

Jesus tells a story about a guy who is helped, not by ‘good people’ or ‘religious people’ but by a man nobody in the audience likes – a man who is meant to be the enemy.

He asks, 'Which one of these three acted like a neighbour towards the man attacked by the robbers?'

What's your limit?

For us the Good Samaritan story is about two big questions:

What does it look like to love someone? How far would you go for someone in need? Would you give two minutes of your time? Your coat? Your spare room?

Is anyone off limits? Are there any boundaries to who we treat lovingly? Do you think all our fellow human beings deserve the same kind of compassion, or are there some people we don’t have to care about?

What's the story?

Chances are, you’ve heard of the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s a story that Jesus told. (Find it in the Bible, Luke 10:25-37.)

What does ‘Good Samaritan’ mean to you?

We’ve been asking the UK public some questions about Good Samaritans. It’s a phrase you still hear used to describe people: 'He’s been a Good Samaritan.' There’s even a helpline called ‘The Samaritans’. So what does it mean today?

What does it mean to be a Good Samaritan today?

  • 31% Doing something at a small cost to yourself, e.g. giving someone directions, volunteering, giving money to someone for a train ticket home.
  • 20% Doing something at a potentially significant cost to yourself, e.g. jumping into a river to save someone else, stopping to help at a car accident.
  • 19% Doing something good for someone you don’t like or wouldn’t normally associate with.

Do you agree? Or have we missed the point of the story?

Actor dressed as Syrian refugee asks for a bed for the night

An old woman, a banker and a Syrian refugee teach us something about trust

Vicar dresses up as a homeless man to see how people would treat him

Part of a church?

You can use our resources to explore modern day Good Samaritans with your church:

More stories

Jesus often answered people’s questions with a story or a hard-hitting question of his own. He didn’t give simple answers but made people look at their own attitudes.

Read more challenging stories in the Bible book of Luke.

Share with others

Bringing the Bible to life

Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon, SN5 7DG. Registered charity 232759