13th Sunday After Trinity - August 21st, 2016

WHAT MUST YOU DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?
Text: Luke 10:23-37, Galatians 3:15-22, 2 Chronicles 28:8-15
Vicar Jonathan P. Jennings


In the name of Jesus!  Amen.


“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  This question isn’t new.  It’s been asked countless years prior to the lawyer asking it in our text, and continues to be asked by multitudes of people today.  Seeing the statistic for death is 100%, the question naturally arises “What’s next?”  Looking across the religious landscape of the world you’ll see a variety of false beliefs in regards to the afterlife.  Whether it’s reincarnation of Hinduism, the Spirit World of the Mormans, or purgatory of the Roman Catholics, these false beliefs and others like them oppose scripture, which reveals only two states of eternal existence - heaven or hell.  Heaven, to live forever in eternal glory with God, or hell, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth in separation from God.


Yet, unlike others, the lawyer from our text doesn’t pose this question as one who is curious over his future fate or seeking to obtain further information, but intends to put Jesus to the test (Luke 10:25).  As is common for man’s sinful flesh to do, the lawyer desires to justify himself before God through his self-righteous works, making himself an heir to everlasting life.  Even though he’s considered to be an expert in interpreting religious law, this question reveals an individual who denies that Jesus is the Son of God, the Torah made flesh.


Jesus, as He so commonly does throughout scripture, responds to the question with a question, “What is written in the Law?  How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)  This is a natural question to pose to an individual who’s an expert in the Torah. The lawyer is astute and answers Jesus’ question correctly by reciting the commands from the Torah, “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” (Luke 10:27).



13th Sunday After Trinity - August 21st, 2016

WHAT MUST YOU DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?
Text: Luke 10:23-37, Galatians 3:15-22, 2 Chronicles 28:8-15
Vicar Jonathan P. Jennings


In the name of Jesus!  Amen.


“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  This question isn’t new.  It’s been asked countless years prior to the lawyer asking it in our text, and continues to be asked by multitudes of people today.  Seeing the statistic for death is 100%, the question naturally arises “What’s next?”  Looking across the religious landscape of the world you’ll see a variety of false beliefs in regards to the afterlife.  Whether it’s reincarnation of Hinduism, the Spirit World of the Mormans, or purgatory of the Roman Catholics, these false beliefs and others like them oppose scripture, which reveals only two states of eternal existence - heaven or hell.  Heaven, to live forever in eternal glory with God, or hell, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth in separation from God.


Yet, unlike others, the lawyer from our text doesn’t pose this question as one who is curious over his future fate or seeking to obtain further information, but intends to put Jesus to the test (Luke 10:25).  As is common for man’s sinful flesh to do, the lawyer desires to justify himself before God through his self-righteous works, making himself an heir to everlasting life.  Even though he’s considered to be an expert in interpreting religious law, this question reveals an individual who denies that Jesus is the Son of God, the Torah made flesh.


Jesus, as He so commonly does throughout scripture, responds to the question with a question, “What is written in the Law?  How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)  This is a natural question to pose to an individual who’s an expert in the Torah. The lawyer is astute and answers Jesus’ question correctly by reciting the commands from the Torah, “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” (Luke 10:27).


Do this and you shall live (Luke 10:28).  God’s word reveals what you must do to enter His kingdom.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:40).  So, why the Law?  It was added because of transgression. (Gal. 3:19)  If the Law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.  But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin (Gal. 3:21-22).  Ultimately, the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).


When confronted by the Law you should admit defeat by repenting of your sin for failing to love God.  You haven’t loved Him with every thought and every desire, with every bone and muscle and movement.  You should admit defeat by repenting of your sin for failing to love your neighbor.  He isn’t the first thing on your mind when you wake up or the last thing when you fall asleep.


Yet, your sinful flesh doesn’t want to admit defeat.  Like the lawyer who becomes defensive knowing that He hasn’t fully kept the law, how easy it is for you to become defensive as you try to justify your sinful actions.  You try to deflect attention away from your sins by implying that the Law is the problem, that God’s Law is unclear.  This is what the lawyer is doing and Jesus knows it.  He knows that the lawyer, as a member of the Pharisaic party, would exclude some people from God’s definition of neighbor, such as Samaritans.  Jesus uses the Parable of the Good Samaritan to show the depth of God’s command to love one’s neighbor. 


Jesus describes a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead (Luke 10:30).  The first two men to come across this wounded man are a priest and a Levite, individuals who were considered righteous and held in high regard within the Jewish community.  The priest could have used multiple excuses as to why he passed by the wounded man such as he would have become ceremonially defiled and would have to endure a week-long process of ceremonial purification.  The Levite, who functions as an assistant to the priest in the temple, could have seen the priest passing the wounded man and in good conscience easily do the same.  These two men had countless excuses as to why they decided to pass by on the other side (Luke 10:32, 33)


Our Old Testament reading reveals the civil war that was going on between the brother nations of Israel and Judah.  God delivered the victory to Israel not on account of their righteousness, but because of the sins of Judah.  Yet, the Israelites intent to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem revealed they too had sins of their own against the LORD God (2 Chronicles 28:10).


Do you not have sins of your own against the LORD your God?  Oh yes!  Sins like the Priest with omission in prayer, care, and love for others.  Sins like the Levite following the examples of others along life’s road rather than that of the holy seed of Abraham.  Your guilt is already great, and the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you (2 Chronicles 28:11-12).  The wrath of God doesn’t bring about eternal life, but eternal condemnation.  There’s nothing you can do of your own power to change this.


Jesus describes one more person in the parable, a Samaritan.  This man would have been hated by the Jews, such as the lawyer, since he was part of a people whose Jewish heritage had been adulterated through intermarriage and whose observance of Judaism was regarded as corrupt.  They were considered outside the bounds of the covenant people and were to be avoided by Jew.  Yet, Jesus uses him as the image of compassion, one that fulfilled God’s command to love his neighbor.


Unlike the priest and the Levite, a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he [the wounded man] 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 (Luke 10:33-34). Using all available resources at his disposal: oil, wine, cloth, riding animal, time, energy, and money, the Samaritan cares for the wounded man.  Furthermore, he risks his life by transporting the wounded man to an inn within Jewish territory, where it was unsafe for Samaritans to travel.  Community vengeance may be enacted against him, even for saving the life of the Jew. 


“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?  He said, “the one who showed him mercy” (Luke 10:36-37).  Out of these three men, only one proved to be a neighbor to the wounded man.  In fact, there’s only one person who could truly fulfill God’s command to love your neighbor.  The Samaritan in the parable is a reflection of Christ himself, the offspring of Abraham, who wasn’t only hated by Jews but the entire world (John 15:18).


As you who were once imprisoned under sin, you were left to die eternally.  Yet, Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Galatians 3:22).  Jesus is the one who fulfills the Law, who embodies the Torah, and brings God’s mercy.  He’s the neighbor that finds you lying dead on the road of sin, and pours out, not oil and wine, but His precious blood through His suffering and death on the cross.  It’s on the cross where He was pierced for your transgression; crushed for your iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought you peace (Isaiah 53:5).  It’s through His wounds that your wounds are healed, and you are given eternal life.


And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, says, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back (Luke 10:35).  Christ’s death on the cross not only healed you from all your sin, but He also continues to care for you.  He brings you into the church, his inn of rest and recovery, where he applies his words of absolution to your wounds and anoints you with oil through the waters of your baptism.  He binds up your wounds and restores you to new life with the healing wine that is His blood at the altar.  In your final hour when you are not half-dead but when physical death appears to draw near, He draws you safely to His side.  He will at last raise your body to eternal life, where there will be no further need for healing.


Ultimately, the original question of “What must I do to inherit eternal life” is flawed.  It’s the wrong question.  The right question would be “What has Jesus done and continues to do for me that I might inherit eternal life?”  The answer to this is everything - even what He is doing for you now!  Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, and the ears that hear what you hear.

In the name of Jesus, Amen!

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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