30 August 2015
Text: Luke 10:23-37 (2 Chron 28:8-15, Gal 3:15-22)
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters, once more we hear one of the most famous and best-loved passages from Scripture: the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
And there is a real danger in being so familiar with the text. It sometimes gives us the illusion that we have mastered the Word rather than allowing the Word to master us. Jesus is not merely imparting knowledge here, but He is rather raising us from the dead by means of His Word. The Gospel is a jolt of life in the midst of a dying world and decaying flesh.
Allow this magnificent Word of God to come to you anew, even as the Lord Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, comes to us again and again, week in and week out, in His Word and Sacrament. He comes to us to make our dead flesh walk by the forgiveness of sins, and to empower us to carry out the good works He has given us to do by the Holy Spirit, not so that we can justify ourselves and have salvation, but rather because He has justified us and has given us the free gift of salvation.
Listen, dear friends, listen and live! Hear these Words as the very elixir of life!
For Jesus tells us: “Many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” We are fortunate beyond measure, dear friends, living in the age of the Kingdom of God, partaking of His body and blood, and being freely redeemed by His most powerful Word. Of all peoples in history, we are the most blessed, dear brothers and sisters.
But in spite of this, we in our sinful flesh, seek to justify ourselves like the lawyer that sought to put our Lord to the test. “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” we are tempted to ask, as though we can do something to earn salvation. We want our works to merit redemption, as if we have something in ourselves to make Jesus stand up and take notice.
Yes, He takes notice, all right. He notices our unwillingness to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind. He notices our refusal to love our neighbor as ourselves. Instead, we love ourselves. We serve ourselves. We enrich ourselves. We entertain ourselves. We worship ourselves. And yes, we try to justify ourselves.
In other words, Jesus notices us as we are: fallen among the devils, stripped and beaten by our sinful flesh, and abandoned by the world. Jesus notices us lying in this fallen world half-dead. For the wages of sin is death. He sees our life flowing out of us, as the goodness in which we human beings were originally created, ebbs out of us, leaving us ever closer to death and decay and damnation.
And all we have to do is to be perfect: “Do this, and you will live.” So, how is that working for you?
Jesus notices us, dear friends. But He doesn’t notice us with contempt, like the priest, who passed by on the other side. He doesn’t notice us with indifference, like the Levite, who passed by on the other side. He doesn’t look down upon us with the hypocrisy of the self-righteous or with the mercilessness of the Law. Rather Jesus notices us as the Samaritan notices us, coming us to where we are. He sees us and has compassion.
Jesus is the One who was wounded for our transgressions, and so He binds up our wounds. Jesus is the One who is anointed with oil, the Messiah, the Christ, and so He pours oil upon us to heal us. Jesus is the One whose saving blood is given to us as Holy Wine in a chalice, the New Testament in His blood, for the forgiveness of sins.
And though we have ruined the harmony between man and beast, the Lord places us upon His own animal; though there was no room for Him to be born in the inn, the Lord brings us to the inn of the church, where we find rest for our souls; though we did not take care of Him in His time of need, abandoned by His disciples whose flesh was weak – even as we continue to abandon Him in our sins – nevertheless, He takes care of us through Word and Sacrament, sparing no expense to deliver to us true health and eternal wholeness through the Gospel.
Yes, indeed, dear friends, Jesus notices us, and He loves us. He notices us, and He forgives us. He notices us, and He gives us eternal life as a free and full gift. And He is the despised Samaritan: stricken, smitten, afflicted, condemned, crucified, and placed into a tomb. He has borne our griefs, carried our sorrows, and was pierced for our transgressions.
And with His wounds we are healed!
For our Lord is a true and faithful priest, not passing by on the other side, but offering the sacrifice of Himself for us and for our justification. Our Lord is also a true and faithful Levite, not passing by on the other side, but caring for that which is holy, the temples of the Holy Spirit that is our own redeemed fleshly bodies, showing us mercy as only the Son of God can do. For Jesus is not only God, but He is also our neighbor. He has mercy. He binds up our wounds. And even as He rose victorious from the dead, He promises triumphantly to come back.
“You go, and do likewise,” says our Good Samaritan. Not because in doing good works we can “justify ourselves,” for we cannot. But rather because we have been justified, we are now free to love our neighbors by showing them the mercy shown to us.
For when we show mercy to our neighbors, the Lord works His mercy through us. We have been freed from the notion that we can justify ourselves, freed from the selfishness that would see us pass by on the other side. We have been freed to receive the free gift of justification, forgiveness, and everlasting life from our Good Samaritan, whose mercies are new every morning, whose mercy endures forever, who shows us mercy at the cross, who delivers that mercy to us at the font, pulpit, and altar, who declares that mercy again and again in the Word of the Gospel.
Dear friends, Blessed indeed are the eyes that see what we see! For Jesus tells us yet again that many prophets and kings desired to see what we see, and did not see it, and to hear what we hear, and did not hear it.
Hear His Word! Live in His mercy! Receive His body and blood! And when the Lord returns as He has promised, get up out of your grave and live forever! For He has shown you mercy, now and forever. Amen!
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.