THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – AUG. 30, 2015
TEXTS: LUKE 10:23-37; GAL 3:15-22; 2 CHRON. 18:8-15
JESUS IS GOD’S COMPASSION IN THE FLESH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

But he (that is the lawyer who put Jesus to the test) – But he desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” The desire for self-justification is a deep craving of the human heart - incredibly intense - incessant – perhaps the heart’s deepest craving! We want to be right! We want to belong! We want to have place and standing among others! We want approval! Therefore we cover up and hide and deflect guilt and blame others. The first man desiring to justify himself said – The woman you gave to be with me she gave…and I ate. The first woman – the mother of all the living - desiring to justify herself said – The serpent deceived…and I ate. A tidal wave of self-justifying thoughts, words and deeds has flooded over the human race ever since and it continues to inundate this world still today.


Religious self-justification has produced barbaric acts. Idol worship has spawned the sacrifice of human victims – even children to appease the anger of some supposed god. Cultic religious orders have contrived strict rules and severe observances attempting to balance these against the anger of some idol. Wear unattractive garb – cut your hair a certain way – distort your body – deny yourself – punish yourself – get in touch with nature or with your inner being – minimize yourself – maximize yourself - please some higher power – then it will be right. Self-justification is the common denominator in all unbelievers and in all false religious systems. When it is falsely taught that all religions worship the same God – self-justification is the heart of that fatal error. Only the flesh of Jesus Christ justifies before God - as a gift of His grace. Jesus is God’s compassion in the flesh!

THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – AUG. 30, 2015
TEXTS: LUKE 10:23-37GAL 3:15-222 CHRON. 18:8-15
JESUS IS GOD’S COMPASSION IN THE FLESH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

But he (that is the lawyer who put Jesus to the test) – But he desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” The desire for self-justification is a deep craving of the human heart - incredibly intense - incessant – perhaps the heart’s deepest craving! We want to be right! We want to belong! We want to have place and standing among others! We want approval! Therefore we cover up and hide and deflect guilt and blame others. The first man desiring to justify himself said – The woman you gave to be with me she gave…and I ate. The first woman – the mother of all the living - desiring to justify herself said – The serpent deceived…and I ate. A tidal wave of self-justifying thoughts, words and deeds has flooded over the human race ever since and it continues to inundate this world still today.


Religious self-justification has produced barbaric acts. Idol worship has spawned the sacrifice of human victims – even children to appease the anger of some supposed god. Cultic religious orders have contrived strict rules and severe observances attempting to balance these against the anger of some idol. Wear unattractive garb – cut your hair a certain way – distort your body – deny yourself – punish yourself – get in touch with nature or with your inner being – minimize yourself – maximize yourself - please some higher power – then it will be right. Self-justification is the common denominator in all unbelievers and in all false religious systems. When it is falsely taught that all religions worship the same God – self-justification is the heart of that fatal error. Only the flesh of Jesus Christ justifies before God - as a gift of His grace. Jesus is God’s compassion in the flesh!


Even in the pale of Christendom - works and acts of worship have been invented by people to defend against the terrors of the conscience. When there is a sense of sin and of death as an enemy, then self-justifying - as a principle of reason – is always at the ready. It is a constant temptation in the Christian life. Even as you and I hear these words our minds can jockey for position – seeking to maneuver ourselves out of the law’s accusation against self-justification. Our natural inclination is not to see the uncleanness of our heart and not to see Jesus as our only refuge.

 

A lawyer stood up to put him to the test… “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The thrust of his question was wrong for he had lost sight of the primacy of grace in the Torah. He had twisted the Old Testament into a legalistic system. The thrust of his question was wrong and yet questions about eternal life are right and so very crucial - for here we have no lasting city (Hebrews 13:14). Laying up enough to be secure in this world and trying to leave a portion for our children as our chief operating principle is short-sighted - an eternity short. In your daily prayer thoughts that focus also on eternal life are invited by your Father in heaven. He invites you to pray for His kingdom to come and for your deliverance from all evil when your last hour comes.

 

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” All the other questions in his conversation with Jesus help to answer this foundational question. “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded with questions of His own. “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.”


Do this – with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Love God with every fiber of your being – every moment of your life! Do not anger God with one sin. See to it that your heart, your senses, mind, will, thoughts, words, works all perfectly agree with God’s holy will and that you keep His Name holy!


Do this - and one more thing – (love) your neighbor as yourself. Be clean and pure in your thoughts (nothing indecent – no undisciplined desires – no putting yourself first) – genuinely understanding in your hearing (also quick to hear) – kind in your words (also slow to speak) – above reproach in your deeds (sacrificial and serving – no laziness) – having hearts and hands of pure mercy. Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” When understood correctly and completely, those two little words carry crushing weight – “Do this.”


But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” His question searches for escape by limiting the neighbors to be loved so fully. In view of the total requirement to love others like I love myself there must be manageable limits. “And who is my neighbor?”


Jesus did not answer his law question directly. Instead, He gave a gospel answer – loaded with divine expression of mercy. He told the story of the Good Samaritan picturing both God’s mercy to us in Christ and the mercy God would have us extend to our neighbor in His name. Many priests lived in Jericho and made two week duty tours to Jerusalem. Levites were assistants to the priests and also made this trek with frequency. In turn, the priest and then the Levite saw the man who fell among robbers – stripped and beaten and half dead. They passed by on the other side. Perhaps fear of personal danger entered in. Perhaps concern for ceremonial uncleanness came to mind. They - 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. Jesus presented a hated outsider as the hero. Samaritans were Northern Kingdom exiles to Assyria. They had chased after idols and were no longer Israelites. They were considered unclean and intermarriage with them was prohibited. But a Samaritan…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. The Samaritan used all his resources and risked his own life in taking this man to a Jewish inn. Since there were no inns in the wilderness he would have had to enter a hostile village with a wounded Jew over the back of his animal. The Samaritan’s mercy exposed him to very real potential violence. 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.”

 

Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Dear Christians – not everyone proved to be neighbor to the man in the ditch. In fact, there was only one! When there are no limits to who our neighbor is - when there are no limits as to the perfect love and healing gifts that are to be given them - only one man fills the bill. The Son of Man who freely gives you His inheritance – the promised seed of Abraham. The Good Samaritan is a small reflection of the merciful actions of Jesus the Christ –

 

The Greek word translated “compassion” in our text is used only of God and Jesus in the gospels. The godly compassion of this one despised Samaritan draws our attention directly to the godly compassion of the despised man speaking this parable. Jesus was in fact called a Samaritan in derision by religious leaders (John 8:48). He is the One who did not leave us on the side of the road – laid low by the robber of the human race – Satan. We have been stripped of innocence, beaten down and left half-dead, physically alive but spiritually dead. Our wounds are so wicked that our sin also includes looking out first for ourselves. Our injuries are so severe that like the Priest and Levite we omit the merciful aid and love we might bestow upon those who are hurting. We draw safe boundaries around our intended love. The ditch into which we have fallen is death deep and headed for hell.


The Priest and the Levite – two figures of the law offer us no help for by the deeds of the law no one is justified (Romans 3:20). The Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. This means that you cannot “Good Samaritan” yourself into heaven. While the lawyer’s question was “Who is my neighbor?” – that is – “whom must I love?” - Jesus’ answer is “Which proved to be… neighbor?” – that is, “Who has loved?”

 

Beloved the answer is Jesus – who loves you as He loves Himself! He did not pass you by on the other side! He remembered you in your low estate and came down in the flesh to rescue you from your foes. Possessing equal God head, throne and might with the Father – He Himself was laid low – bruised for our iniquities. In Him God is your neighbor. Jesus poured forth His mercy – not until He was half-dead – but until He was crucified, dead and buried. No one tended to His wounds with oil and wine. They did so only with myrrh and aloes, anointing His corpse. His saving death has made you one with God and with each other.


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.” The Church fathers referred to the “next day” in our text as the day of Jesus’ resurrection! Ours is the God who works wonders. Having poured forth the healing medicine of His blood from the cross, He stepped forth from the house of death to anoint you! In boundless love He poured the oil of His grace into your wounds in Holy Baptism. He caused you to be born again to a living hope through His resurrection – to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4). In boundless love He has gathered you into His Church – an inn of rest and recovery. He has paid for everything to continue your healing and your care. At this Altar - He continues to restore you with healing wine that is His blood. In your final hour when death throws your body down to dust – even then He draws you safely to His side. He will at the last raise your body to life where no further healing is needed. 


The deepest impulse of your heart may be to justify what you’ve done and left undone - what you’ve been and what you are today. Stop it! That effort has no future! But telling you to stop self-justifying thoughts is a command of the law – a good command but one you will not be able to fulfill!

 

Therefore God continue to drive out your thoughts of self-justification by the deepest impulse of Jesus’ heart which is to justify the ungodly! This He has done! Let the poor and needy praise Him! Let the beaten and bruised praise Him! Let the bleeding and dying – all those laid low - praise Him! In Christ you – not someone else – do love the Lord your God with all your heart – your infected heart made clean by Him – your cold heart warmed and fired by Him! You do not possess Him. His love possesses you! His love renews your hope! His boundless love brings you healing gifts of forgiving release and is that alone which frees you to go and do likewise.


“What must I do to inherit internal life?” Life in the age to come is his probing question. It is good for you and me to ponder such questions. Jesus is the answer – our mediator at the heavenly throne – not just at the beginning of justification but all the way home. He is God’s compassion in the flesh!

 

At another time Jesus taught His hearers “Do not labor for food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God? Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent. (John 6:27-29).


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a