THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – SEPT 14, 2014
TEXT: LUKE 10:23-37; GAL. 3:15-22; 2 CHRON. 28:8-15
JESUS PROVES TO BE YOUR NEIGHBOR!
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. 


A lawyer stood up to put him to the test…”Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  A specialist in religious law - this lawyer knew the answer from the Torah.  He asked the question anyway - “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  All the other questions in his conversation with Jesus only help to answer this primary question.


Jesus responded with questions of His own.  “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  The lawyer was now forced to voice the answer that he knew before he ever asked the first question.  “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.”  Jesus accepts his answer – “You have answered correctly; but then He put this lawyer in an indefensible position – do this, and you will live.”

 

You – not someone else – do this – not an approximation of this!  You – love – that is agape love – with deeds and actions with sacrificial passion and commitment – with sincerity and truth!  You – love – the Lord your God – do not love what God gives you – do not love what you imagine God to be – but love the Lord your God.  You – love – the Lord your God – with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.  In other words – love God with all of you – with every fiber of your being – with boundless love every moment of your life!  Do this and yes - just one more thing – (love) your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.



THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – SEPT 14, 2014
TEXT: LUKE 10:23-37; GAL. 3:15-22; 2 CHRON. 28:8-15
JESUS PROVES TO BE YOUR NEIGHBOR!
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. 


A lawyer stood up to put him to the test…”Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  A specialist in religious law - this lawyer knew the answer from the Torah.  He asked the question anyway - “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  All the other questions in his conversation with Jesus only help to answer this primary question.


Jesus responded with questions of His own.  “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  The lawyer was now forced to voice the answer that he knew before he ever asked the first question.  “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.”  Jesus accepts his answer – “You have answered correctly; but then He put this lawyer in an indefensible position – do this, and you will live


You – not someone else – do this – not an approximation of this!  You – love – that is agape love – with deeds and actions with sacrificial passion and commitment – with sincerity and truth!  You – love – the Lord your God – do not love what God gives you – do not love what you imagine God to be – but love the Lord your God.  You – love – the Lord your God – with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.  In other words – love God with all of you – with every fiber of your being – with boundless love every moment of your life!  Do this and yes - just one more thing – (love) your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 


But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  It is a lawyer-like question – a limiting question – indeed a possible path of escape.  Behind it lurks another question – “Who is not my neighbor?” – that is, “Whom can I exclude from this all-consuming command?”  In view of the total requirement to love others like I love myself – helping and supporting them in every physical need – loving them with every fiber of my being – where is the grey area?  Surely there are manageable limits in his demand for perfect love?  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  


One of the deepest desires of sinful man is to justify himself.  We want to be rightly thought of and to think well of ourselves.  We are quick to defend our persons and our actions or lack thereof.  Without much thought we may seek to justify such things as a selfish attitude or an anxious and ungrateful heart.  With considerable thought and comparison with others we may seek to justify ourselves as being more like the Good Samaritan than not.  It comes rather natural to us.  It happens with little effort in an ongoing way.  The persistent pressure of our inner urge is to justify ourselves.  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 


Jesus did not answer his question directly.  It was a law question loaded with false expectation.  Instead, Jesus gave a gospel answer – loaded with the divine expression of mercy.  He told the story of the Good Samaritan.  This event is portrayed by one of our banners for the Pentecost season because it is a scene which condenses much of what God would teach us about ourselves and His undeserved mercy.  The Good Samaritan pictures both God’s mercy to us in Christ and the mercy God would have us extend to our neighbor in His name.


And who is my neighbor?”  Jesus replied, “ A man was going down from Jerusalem and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  The stage is set.  The man in question is helpless and in need of immediate healing help.


Jesus’ paints a picture that fits that time and place.  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 him there – 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.  What there is no question about is that 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.  As this lawyer, this specialist in the Torah, listened, Jesus presented a hated outsider as the hero.  It is difficult to duplicate how hard it would have been for the lawyer to hear Jesus’s words.  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.  Dr. Luther notes how the lawyer even avoids using the word “Samaritan” – instead answering with “The one who showed him mercy.”


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.  The Samaritan uses all his available resources to care for the wounded man.  He even risked his life to care for this man in 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.  In the context of today’s dangerous tensions compare it to a Christian or a Kurd in Iraq carrying a wounded soldier of ISIS into a hostile town for healing help.  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.”  What a costly demonstration of unexpected love to a wounded stranger!  What an amazing depiction of loving one’s neighbor as oneself!


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.”  And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”  The lawyer had lost sight of the primacy of grace in the Torah.  He had twisted God’s Word into a legalistic system by which he attempted to justify himself.  “What must I do to inherit internal life?”  Life – life in the age to come is his probing question.  God’s merciful gift that provides rescue is Jesus’ God’s healing gift in the flesh.


Dear Christians – not everyone proved to be neighbor to the man in the ditch.  In fact, there was only one – an outsider!  When there are no limits to who our neighbor is and 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 Good Samaritan is a small reflection of the merciful actions of Jesus Christ – the Son of God.


Just like the Samaritan, Jesus was despised and rejected by men and hated by the world.  In fact, He was insultingly called a Samaritan by religious leaders (John 8:48).  Just like the Samaritan Jesus stooped down to help those who were helpless.  Just like the Samaritan Jesus rode into the midst of violence aimed at Himself to procure ongoing healing for us!  Jesus is the one man in this world who pours forth boundless compassion.  The Greek word translated “compassion” is used only of God and Jesus in the gospels.  The godly compassion of this one despised Samaritan draws our attention straightway to the godly compassion of the despised man speaking this parable. 


He did not leave us on the side of the road – laid low by the master thief and robber – 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 harming others – if not physically – then verbally and emotionally.  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 limits around our intended love.  The ditch into which we have fallen is as dark as death and as deep as 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 no one can “Good Samaritan” themselves 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.  He 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. 


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!  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 His table - He continues to restore you with healing wine that is His blood.  In your final hour when you are not half-dead but when physical death appears to throw you down to final 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. 


In Christ you – not someone else – do love the Lord your God!  In loving you as He loves Himself, Jesus even now clothes you with Himself.  His love renews your hope!  His boundless love brings you healing gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation.  In this way He frees you to be neighbor to those around you!  In this way – even today- He frees you to go and do likewise.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.