Half Dead Guy + Zero Tolerance

I took a brief look at the text of the Good Samaritan a couple weeks ago and how he dealt with the half dead guy. He left 2 Denarii (20 or 32Asses depending upon conversion factor) with the innkeeper to take care of him. Initially I was going whoa, a fleet of donkeys, but no, it was the coinage of the era. A Denaris was equal to about a days wages, a barber visit, or a couple lbs of grapes (conversions are iffy, its not like they had a consumer price index calculator back then).

It would seem that the innkeeper guy showed significant mercy to the half dead guy, and also put a ton of trust in the Samaritan… If you were running a inn, would you trust some foreign dude from a country you don’t like to make good on the account of a guy that might end up dieing in your place?

Perhaps even more so, if your cultures religious practice held to dead guys being unclean, its likely you probably ascribed to a zero tolerance policy. Ie, if you touched a dead guy, you’d have to hoop jump due to the purity laws. We don’t know diddly about the innkeeper… but it seems there is a lesson there as well. He sure exhibited a lot of trust and of mercy, and if he was religious, he apparently didn’t buy off on the zero tolerance thing.

Some suggest that zero tolerance is why both the priest and Levite guy passed on the other side… Its not that they were self absorbed jerks, they just didn’t want to risk becoming un-pure. Sadly, I’d guess a lot of half dead guys often become fully dead due to those folks idolization of purity.

Its also interesting to note that the start of the parable was based upon questions from a lawyer dude… and good lawyers never ask a question they don’t know the answer to. I imagine he was not expecting a double shock with the Samaritan guy being the neighbor and the purity stuff being rolled… and then on top of that being told to do likewise.

It seems Jesus upended a lot of “zero tolerance” things. People want the easy way out, they don’t want to struggle with grey, and they want to be on the safe side. Alas, just like we see today with the zero tolerance blowups in the news media, the unintended side effects can be pretty brutal… and in reality, zero tolerance is a lot less safe than its sold to be. Jesus presented a better way, will we go and do likewise?



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