By Hollie Wells
The temple endowment is a symbolic representation of the Plan of Salvation and how we can successfully return to our Father in Heaven. The endowment uses the story of Adam and Eve to represent each of us in our journey through the creation, fall, and experiencing the Atonement of Christ through our lives.
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) chronicles this same path through mortality in just six verses. This story has recently come around in the Come, Follow Me curriculum, and I seem to gain new insight to the symbolism behind this parable each time I study it.
The man in the parable encounters robbers on his way and he is beaten and bruised and left to die. Mortality leaves us all “wounded” and sometimes “half dead.” (verse 30) The Fall of Adam and Eve introduced injury, illness, and physical death into the world. We all are subject to it through different challenges, trials, disadvantages, or abuse.
The Three Passerby
Along came a Priest and a Levite. These religious leaders “passed by on the other side.” (verses 31 & 32) Our works, efforts, and participation in the church are wonderful. They empower us and make us better people and allow us to serve others in a structured and productive way. However, that cannot save us from this Fall.
Washed, Anointed, Clothed
Along comes a man who is a Samaritan, half Israelite and half Gentile. He “has compassion” (verse 33) and stops to care for the suffering stranger. Our Savior came as half mortal and half God to have the same compassion on fallen mankind. He came to the aid of the man and washed, anointed and clothed his wounds (verse 34). Similarly, Christ first cleanses us from the filth of sin, then anoints us to make us holy, set-apart, and sanctified. We are then clothed in His protection from outside influences and made distinct from the world around us.
The Good Samaritan next takes the wounded man to an inn for him to be further taken care of. This inn is the safety and security we have when we are in a covenant relationship with Jesus. When we are bound to Him through our covenants, He promises that He will pay our debts and we will be saved on His credentials. The inn is also the church, which is the formal and authorized administrator and safe-keeper of these sacred ordinances and covenants. This inn is the temples we go to to make such covenants and the priesthood authority by which they are administered.
I marvel at the Master Teacher’s ability to weave such symbolism into a story told to teach about loving our neighbors. Hopefully seeing the full depth of this parable helps us to be more loving and compassionate towards those around us because we have been so treated by the Good Samaritan ourselves.