The Good Samaritan: A Type and Shadow of the Plan of Salvation

One of the most influential stories told by Jesus is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35). As a result of this scripture, people all over the world, whether Christians or not, speak of being a Good Samaritan, of doing good for people who are in peril or need. Modern-day Good Samaritans stop to help stranded travelers fix flat tires or find shelter, come to the rescue of people in distress, or serve spontaneously as benevolent volunteers. They even receive legal immunity in many states should they happen to make matters worse while trying to be of help. Most people in modern society know the main details of the story of the Good Samaritan, and this memorable story inspires benevolent daily decisions, both socially and religiously. Because we all have serious needs, this parable speaks deeply to every human soul.

As important and dramatic as its ethical content obviously is, Jesus’ story may harbor far more meaning than most people ever imagine. An ancient but now almost forgotten tradition, extending back to the earliest days of Christian interpretation, sees this tale as much more than a story and as far more than a parable. According to this early Christian view, the narrative is to be read as an impressive allegory of the fall and redemption of mankind. In LDS terms, it may be seen even more expansively as a type and shadow of the eternal plan of salvation. This article explores and embraces the allegorical layer of signification and shows how a deeper level of meaning does not detract from the conventional understanding of the parable but adds rich, epic dimensions to the typical understanding of this classic vignette.

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