The story, found in Luke 10:30-37, is about man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when thieves beat him, robbed him, and left him naked and “half dead” by the side of the road. Soon someone came along who might be expected to treat the traveler with compassion: this Jewish priest was probably on his way to serve in the temple in Jerusalem. Sadly, he wore the face of compassion—and he looked the other way as he passed by the injured traveler.
The next person to come by—a Levite—could also have been expected to help. These descendants of Levi, set apart in Israel to serve God alone, should have been more compassionate than anyone: “The Levites shall be Mine,” the Lord had said (Numbers 3:12). But when the Levite came upon the dying traveler, he “looked, and passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:32). Many who knew this Levite probably saw him as a compassionate man. In reality, what they were seeing was his Pieta Mask.
Finally, the last person one would expect to have compassion on a Jewish traveler came along. Looking at his face, a native of the area might have detected the Samaritan features and known not to expect him to extend compassion to any Hew. There was no love—or compassion—lost between Jews and Samaritans. And this truth made the message of Jesus’ story quite striking, for it was the Samaritan who saved the Jewish traveler’s life. This compassionate Samaritan wore no mask. Instead, he was pieta personified—the compassionate neighbor that Jesus calls all of us to be.
David Jeremiah, Signs of Life, p. 221