What are Parables?
Take this opportunity to teach your children what parables are. They are little stories Jesus told that teach us about the Kingdom of God. They are similar to fables in that they are stories with a deeper meaning. But fables give moral or ethical lessons. For example, the Tortoise and the Hare teaches us not to give up (if you are the tortoise) and not to be too full of yourself (if you are the hare). The Boy Who Cried Wolf teaches us that if we lie repeatedly, people won't believe us even when we are telling the truth. Parables teach us about life in the Kingdom of God, or life as a Christian.
This is a parable told by Jesus to illustrate that we should treat everyone like you treat your neighbors or close friends.
A teacher of the law asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus turned the question around and asked the teacher how he interpreted the law. The teacher answered with the Great Commandment, which Jesus gave several times in the New Testament (see also Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-31). "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind." (this is found in Deuteronomy 6:5) "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." (this is found in Leviticus 19:18)
Jesus told him that he was correct. But the teacher of the law was trying to trick Jesus. He was trying to get Jesus to say something that would be scandalous or that he could otherwise use against him. So the teacher asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
So Jesus told him this parable (or story with a kingdom meaning) in response:
A man, assumed to be Jewish, was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and is robbed, beaten and left for dead. A priest and Levite pass by without helping, but a Samaritan helps the injured man.
The priest would have been at risk of defiling himself. He would have needed to complete a timely process of purifying himself from the uncleanliness of going near the injured man.
The Levite, from the family line of Levi (one of Jacob's twelve sons), but not of Aaron, would be in a similar situation as the priest, since they assisted the priests.
The priest and the Levite both were more concerned with their religious rules and convenience than with helping this poor man out.
The nationality of the helper in this parable is significant because Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other. They were enemies. Remember the divided Kingdom from the Old Testament? The Northern Kingdom's capitol was Samaria. After they were led into captivity, they intermarried with the Assyrians and essentially ceased to exist as Israel. The Jews (from Judah, or the Southern Kingdom) considered them "half-breeds" or "mutts". An example of this lack of interaction between Jews and Samarians can be seen in John 4:7-9.
So this Samaritan, who went out of his way to help an enemy - and then took very good care of him - demonstrated what true love looks like. From the Jews' perspective, the least likely of the three people to help the man did so.
The Kingdom lesson in this parable: God wants us to love people and take care of them, no matter who they are - whether they are enemies or friends.
What is the biggest injury you've ever had (maybe a broken bone, a surgery, etc)? Ask them, "who took care of you?" The people who took care of you must really love you!
Today, we're going to learn about a parable, or story, Jesus told us about a man who was in deep trouble and needed someone to help him.
Teach the children what a parable is (see the Story Summary above)
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Luke 10:30-37
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?