The Parable of the Roman Soldiers and the Stabbed Man

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”. He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.” But the lawyer, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answered, “A certain man was walking through the market of Jerusalem when a spice merchant yelled out, and accused him of stealing spices. Two nearby Roman soldiers quickly apprehended the man for questioning. At the same time, a crowd of onlookers gathered around the commotion. One of the soldiers shouted, “Is it true you stole spices from this man?!” Another soldier shouted, “Tell us!”

As the man quickly reached into his garment, one of the soldiers panicked and thrust his makhaira into the man’s stomach. The man fell to the ground lifeless as the crowd surrounding them gasped.  The roman soldier who stabbed the man claimed that he was reaching for a dagger, but the crowd didn’t see. Another man standing in the crowd shouted that he knew the stabbed man, he claimed he stole from him once earlier that week and he probably had a dagger.  Another man spoke up that knew the stabbed man was a local farmer who was honorable. Then a woman in the crowd shouted out that he heard the stabbed man was an adulterer. At that moment, a lame man sitting along the wall said that the stabbed man offered him a shekel out of generosity earlier that day. Another person the shouted that he saw the man working on the Sabbath in the past and was a fool for ignoring the Roman Soldiers commands.

The crowd began to disperse slowly, content with what they saw as God’s judgment on a thief as the roman soldier reached into the garment of the stabbed man.

Jesus then said, “The stabbed man is your neighbor.”  The lawyer then asked, “Wait, but what did the roman soldier find in his garment? And did he really do those things?”

Then Jesus asked him, “Do the contents of his pocket or what he has done in the past make him not your neighbor?”

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