Symbols that Christ incorporated into his parable of the good Samaritan have been lost over time. Learn how this parable can teach us about the plan of salvation.
Jesus Christ taught with parables to convey deeper meanings to his followers. John W. Welch, a professor of law at Brigham Young University, explains how the forgotten symbols in the parable of the good Samaritan can teach us about the plan of salvation.
The Fall of Adam and Eve
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves . . . leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:30). Early Christians linked “a certain man” to Adam. Because of the temple, Jerusalem symbolizes the presence of God; on the other hand, Jericho symbolizes the world, as it is the lowest city in the world. When the “certain man” falls half-dead, this is a symbol of Adam and his posterity falling into sin and becoming mortal.
Christ As the Good Samaritan
“But a certain Samaritan . . . had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine” (Luke 10:33–34). Samaritans were considered impure by the Jews due to their mixed blood; Christ had mixed blood, having been born of an earthly mother and a heavenly Father. Compassion is often used to describe Christ’s attitude towards the fallen (sinners). Wine is a reference not only to the blood of Christ, but also to the word of God: it stings at first, but it brings healing. Christ searches for the fallen and heals us with his own blood.
Welch finds many other symbols in the parable of the good Samaritan, including the purpose of the Church, our inability to be saved in eternity by man, and the Second Coming. The purpose of Christ’s teachings—including the parable of the good Samaritan—is to point us to salvation.
—Austin Burton, Mormon Insights
Photo courtesy of Lawrence OP