May 22, 2022 12:56 am

Marketing With the Good Samaritan – A Biblical Approach

Although 2000 years have passed, the example of the Samaritan can provide marketers of today with sound insight and a plan for success. This paper reviews three of the examples set by the Samaritan; Customer Service, Needs Analysis and Follow Through. As the backdrop for this review the text of Luke 10:25-37, New International Version will be used.

Exegesis The book of Luke was written between 59 to 78 AD by Luke, a companion of Paul the apostle; consequently he is umzuege  credited with having written Acts and was a physician (Yancey & Stafford, 1973/2003). The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts “begin with a formal dedication in the Greco-Roman literary style-the only New Testament books to do so” (Gundry, 1970/2003). The book itself was written to  (lover of God) as encouragement to the many Gentiles drawing near to Christ.

A rather complicated issue for the time provided a need for the writings of Luke. Early Christians fully expected Christ to return quickly, as time went on the Church needed a way to understand what was happening. Luke’s answer was to show “history is composed of three layers. (1) The history of Israel; (2) the history of Jesus, the midpoint of the whole; and (3) the history of the Church, which was the continuation of the work of Jesus. The second is the fulfillment of the first, and the third is the continuation into a prolonged future of the second” (Browning, 1960).

Political Background Many things were happening in the 1st century. Rome was holding a large part of the world in its iron grip. Client kings, governors appointed by Rome and the conquered were all vying for relevance in a changing world. In this paper only the relationship between the Christians and Jews will be considered with any depth.

The Jews were composed primarily of; Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. The Pharisees were extremely legalistic. Although Jesus clashed frequently with the Pharisees and their legal wrangling they were highly respected by most Jews. The Sadducees were the original aristocrats. Smaller in number than the Pharisees, they were significant due to their control of the priesthood. Sadducees believed only in the first five books or the Torah and were of little influence once the Temple, their center of power, was destroyed. The Pharisees became the forerunners to orthodox Judaism.

A final group, the Essenes, was more legalistic than the Pharisees; this is the group famous for preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes withdrew to live in solitude, away from sinners. The strictest of the Essenes refrained from marriage and the group eventually died out.

The Pharisees were often attempting to catch Jesus in some act of heresy. Perhaps the “teacher” is not a Pharisee but none the less he was a “teacher” (Luke 10:25). One should note that teachers of the law were “men who were qualified to interpret the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the first five books” (Bratcher, 1982, 82). Luke 10:25-37 begins with such a confrontation.

The teacher asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25)? A question designed to test Jesus. As quickly as the question is received, Jesus sends back the rhetorical, “What is written in the Law? (Luke 10:26). The teacher being trained in the Law is quickly able to respond, perhaps with the indignation his high rank allowed (quoting  6:5 and Lev 19:18); “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). The trap had been sprung; the teacher like unsuspecting game was enjoying the bait as Jesus was tightening the snare. Jesus continued with the parable of the good Samaritan in verses 30-36. The teacher then asks “who is my neighbor” (Luke 10 29)? Jesus tells the story of a traveler, robbed, beaten and left for dead. As a priest and a Levite avoid the man and leave him in the road dying. Then something interesting happens, any enemy of the Jews walks by and bandages the wounds, pays for his keep and returns to check on him. “Which of these three do you think was the neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers” (Luke 10:36)?

The teacher replies “The one who had mercy on him” (Luke 10:37). The air was beginning to thicken; the lights were going dim for the teacher. The trap had been reversed. Yet Christ in His majesty and grace lets the teacher go without personal assault or attack, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

Exposition Points to Ponder The Pharisees were always trying to test Jesus, why? As the Pharisees began to hold onto the Law with an ever tightening grip, they lost their compassion and humanity to some degree. Perhaps pride or the fear of being wrong motivated their continued assault, perhaps it was their true belief. According to LaVerdiere (1980, 150-153), “What had begun as the lawyer’s test of Jesus, now becomes Jesus’ test of the lawyer.”

Were the Levite and Priest in the parable simply acting out of their training? “Supposing the unconscious body to be a corpse…they wished to avoid ceremonial defilement which would occur if they touched a dead body” (Browning, 1960, 112), one may believe this a stretch at justification.

What is the significance of the Samaritan? The Law keeping Jews believed the Samaritans to be a defiled and unclean race. Having survived the captivity of the Babylonians, this small group of Jews had managed to stay in their homeland. Because of their unwillingness to marry pagans, there was close intermarriage and perhaps this disgusted the rest of the Jews. Perhaps there was some other reason for the rejection of the Samaritans, clearly it was present. “The lawyer/teacher would probably have excluded the (Samaritan) from his neighbor, (yet) is presented as the one who was fully considered such and to whom the law of love consequently extended” 1980). It is also worthy of noting, the teacher “doesn’t even bring himself to use the word “Samaritan’ at the end” (Fee & Stuart, 1981/2003, 156).

What does the Samaritan have to do with Marketing? At this point one might be asking about the relevance of marketing and the good Samaritan. There are several parallels that can be made between the Samaritan and the savvy marketer. This section will deal with three; developing markets through customer service, needs analysis, and great follow through.

The Exposition of the Samaritan’s Example

Michael Gerber claims that the start of a great marketing campaign is understanding, “how your customers’ minds work, and how you can influence them for their benefit and yours” (Gerber, 2005, 136). Luke tells the reader, “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him he took pity on him” (Luke 10:33). To understand the marketplace one must be engaged and accessible to the marketplace. The Samaritan is found in the heart of his client’s need. When others have overlooked any potential in this beaten and bruised body, even walking to the other side of the road (Levite and Priest), the Samaritan was close enough to the action to recognize a need.

The Samaritan did not stop at recognizing a potential need. He stepped into the action, and applied his skills where they were needed. “He went to him to bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him” (Luke 10:34). Marketing is not something you do to someone, its something you do for someone. The Samaritan recognized customer service is step one but quickly analyzed the needs of his newest client and began moving to the customer focused needs. The Samaritan was holding another key of good market analysis, first mover advantage. “The company that grabs the most market share the fastest wins the battle and the war” (Sherman, 2001, 5).

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