Micah 5.1-15 (though the lectionary prescribes only verses 1-5 and 10-15, we should read it all!)
This chapter is a beloved prophesy of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (v.2). The church has seen that since the very beginning, and we continue to revisit and celebrate this wonder during the season of Advent when we tend to read this text in worship. While we marvel at the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem, we must not linger there and miss the promises that have not yet been fully-realized. Micah foretells that God's "hand will be lifted up against your adversaries, and all your enemies will be destroyed" (v.9). Certainly this was accomplished, in fact, on the cross, yet as we are all too aware, we live now in the "in-between" time, in the time of "already and not yet" when we understand Christ's final victory over sin, death, and the Devil is assured but do not yet see that victory played out around us. Let us take heart, for just as the promise of the Messiah's birth in Bethlehem did not fail, so too the promise of final rest and Jesus' victory is guaranteed.
When we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, many of us are content to interpret it at a rather superficial level: seeing the oil and wine as "treatments comparable to today’s antibacterial first-aid creams" (The Lutheran Study Bible), viewing the two denarii as fair compensation for services rendered, etc. As a result, we end up understanding this parable as primarily as the way God would have us act toward other people (i.e., Law). "God requires us to act in love toward all people, even our enemies and especially those in need" (The Lutheran Study Bible). Just about every modern study bible and commentary flesh out the details of the parable in a similar way.
Historically, this parable was understood very differently. From the time of the church fathers through the Protestant Reformation (and still today in the Orthodox Church, among others), this parable was understood as a description of God's work for us in the salvation of our souls (i.e., Gospel). Those who understand the parable in this light, understand the Good Samaritan as Jesus, the oil as the Chrismation (anointing oil traditionally applied to the forehead during baptism), the wine as the Eucharist, the inn as the church, the "next day" as the resurrection, and the two coins and the Old and New Testaments, etc. This allegorical understanding was held by such giants as Ambrose, Augustine, and Luther. Even if we think such an interpretation stretches the text too far, we would do well to be aware of the way in which this parable was understood for more than 1500 years and is still understood by many Christians today.