What shall we call Him? So often at Christmas time we hear the lament that people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas. In an attempt to keep that message constantly before my children, and myself during this wonderfully busy time, I started a tradition of studying the names of the Savior. After all, when a couple is expecting a baby, they spend much time pondering a name, so what better way to celebrate our Savior’s birth than to focus on His many names?
In my search to learn more about the names of Christ, I came across some wonderful surprises. Good Samaritan was one of them. BYU Professor, John Welch, enlightened me in a talk he gave about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He begins, “This parable’s content is clearly practical and dramatic in its obvious meaning, but a time-honored Christian tradition also saw the parable as an impressive allegory of the Fall and Redemption of mankind.
“. . .The man who was going down is Adam. Jerusalem is paradise, and Jericho is the world. The robbers are hostile powers. The priest is the Law, the Levite is the prophets, and the Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience, the beast is the Lord’s body, the [inn], which accepts all who wish to enter, is the Church. … The manager of the [inn] is the head of the Church, to whom its care has been entrusted. And the fact that the Samaritan promises he will return represents the Savior’s second coming.
“This allegorical reading was taught not only by ancient followers of Jesus, but it was virtually universal throughout early Christianity, being advocated by Irenaeus, Clement, and Origen, and in the fourth and fifth centuries by Chrysostom in Constantinople, Ambrose in Milan, and Augustine in North Africa. This interpretation is found most completely in two other medieval stained-glass windows, in the French cathedrals at Bourges and Sens.”
Reading this article really opened the Parable of the Good Samaritan for me. I am strengthened when I picture myself as the traveler, hurt and broken, and the Lord, the Good Samaritan coming to bind up my wounds. It is easy to for me to imagine because He has bound up my wounds so many times before.
I highly recommend the entire article, “The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols,” John W. Welch, Ensign, Feb 2007, 40–47 which you can find here.
And naturally finding these new truths in an old story, brings a question to my mind. . .what messages are hidden in the other parables, waiting for me when I am ready to receive them? There’s a Christmas gift to “unwrap”.