Fifth Sunday after Pentecost Rev Mark Duer
Luke 10:25-37 July 14, 2019
The parable in today's Gospel is one of the most well-known parables Jesus ever told. A man gets mugged. Two people who should help him just pass on by, and the one man who helps him is considered his enemy. This parable has a happy ending, a noble hero, and plenty to teach us.
In order to get the full meaning out of this parable, it’s important to check out the context of the story. Jesus is on His last Journey to Jerusalem before He offers Himself up for our salvation. He’s still stopping in the towns on the way. He’s still healing, teaching, and proclaiming the Good news that the Kingdom of God is near.
Today's Gospel demonstrates the mistake that’s at the foundation of a false doctrine. A lawyer came forward to test Jesus and asked a question. You would think that a lawyer would see the contradiction in the very question that he asked, but he asked it anyway. The lawyer asked, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
If you understand the meaning of the word "inherit" and the meaning of the word "do," you will see an immediate contradiction. An inheritance is a gift. If you’re in the will, you get the gift. If you’re not in the will, you don’t get the gift. There’s nothing you can do to force God to include you in His will.
Jesus has earned our salvation with His suffering and death on the cross. He offers it to us as a free gift. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith that holds on to that salvation. God does everything. Salvation is ours. There is nothing we can do. There is always some temptation to try to earn or demonstrate our salvation by keeping the law.
The instant we try to earn our own salvation, we have left the path of truth and are headed toward false doctrine. Since God wants us to learn from our mistakes, He will often show us the ultimate results of this false thinking. When people asked Jesus a law question, He gave them a law answer so that they would see how futile our good works really are.
The lawyer asked a law question. In order to help the lawyer, see the error of his ways, Jesus gave him a law answer.
[Jesus] said to him, in verses 26-28 "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself."
And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." The lawyer knew the law. He gave the exact same answer that Jesus had given at another time. The basis of the law is love for God and love for neighbor. The lawyer had it down pat.
So, in order to satisfy the law, all the lawyer had to do was love God perfectly and love his neighbor perfectly and heaven was his. Now loving God is one thing. Loving neighbor is something else. God is perfect. He is holy. He is merciful. He provides for all our needs.
On the other hand, there is the neighbor. Loving some of our neighbors is easy. Especially the ones that take care of their lawn. They don't let their pets wander off. They don't have loud parties late at night (at least not without inviting you to attend). It's easy to love those neighbors.
Then there are the other neighbors. You know - the ones who play their car stereo too loud at 1:00 A.M. in the morning - the ones who have dogs that bark all night - the ones who make you feel uncomfortable when they look your way, or the ones who don’t return something when they borrow it. It's a lot harder to love those neighbors.
If you’re honest, you admit that you can't love all your neighbors as you love yourself.
29But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" That’s when Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan.
You all know the story and the moral to the story. If we are to earn our own salvation according to the law, we must do what the Good Samaritan did. If we find our mortal enemy in some kind of difficulty, we must help him.
Basically, we should be eager to do whatever it takes to help our worst enemy in any circumstance. That’s just part of keeping the law perfectly.
Our Gospel says that the lawyer desired to justify himself. If we tried to justify ourselves according to the law, then the story of the Good Samaritan sets a standard that none of us could possibly keep. The parable of the Good Samaritan condemns every last one of us.
When we ask Jesus a law question, we get a law answer. If we allow Jesus to share His Gospel with us? How does the parable work when we apply the Gospel?
Once again, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead." This man is us. The devil, the world, and even our own sinful flesh has mugged us with our own sin. We are literally dead in our own trespasses and sin.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'
36Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."
The Samaritan is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He generously applies the oil of His righteous life and the wine of His own blood.
He gave us His righteousness and took our sins onto Himself as He suffered and died on the cross.
Jesus then took us to the inn of the church. There he gave instructions to His pastor to care for you. He has given the pastor His holy Word, Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Lord's Supper.
He has given His pastor instructions (the Office of the Keys) to use these Means of Grace to tend to the well-being of all those who have been beaten up by sin.
Finally, the day will come when our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ will return to make all things right. He will settle all accounts. He will deal with the evil one and throw him into the abyss. Sin, death, and the devil will no longer bother us for they will be gone.
Just as Jesus rose from the dead in an immortal body, we too shall rise from the dead never to die again. Then we shall live forever with Jesus in a new heaven and new earth where there will be no more sin or sorrow or death.
Jesus is your Good Samaritan who fulfilled the Law perfectly for you.
We cannot live up to the standard of the Good Samaritan. Sin mugs us and leaves us at the side of the road to die. In fact, we are spiritually dead. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Colossians 1:13-14 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Our only hope is the Gospel of our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ. Only He can rescue us and bring us healing. Jesus is the one who set His face to go to Jerusalem so that He could die for us on the cross. He is also the one who rose from the dead to give us the promise of eternal life with Him.
Be a neighbor to those in need, if they are hungry, feed them, thirsty, give them something to drink, needing clothes, clothe them, etc. Share the Good News, invite them to church.
The inheritance of eternal life is already yours. Our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ has already earned your forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit establishes the faith that trusts in Jesus for that forgiveness. There is nothing left to do. When it comes to our salvation, God does all the work. He is our true Good Samaritan. Amen
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