Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Trinity 13 (September 2, 2012)
Luke 10:23-37 – The Good Samaritan
TITLE: “The Good Samaritan”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus. Amen. Our text for this morning is from Luke 10, with focus on the words, Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.
Sometimes it is hard to recognize the blessings of the Christian faith and union with Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus points this out to His disciples when he said blessed are the eyes which see the things you see. People the world over long for what we have by faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. But sometimes the greatest gifts may be right in front of us, and we ignore them.
This is what Jesus is talking about in the parable of the Good Samaritan. A rich lawyer comes to Jesus and asks Him a great Law question: Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What do I have to do to get to heaven? At first glance, I suppose that this seems like a pretty good question, but let’s look at it a little closer.
Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Christ our Lord has an eternity of blessings to give, and this man wants to do something to inherit eternal life. He couldn’t recognize the gift of God’s grace right in front of Him in the person of Jesus Christ. He was much happier to fight, to work, to struggle, to do whatever he felt he could do in order to get the prize.
But this, my friends, is the way of the world from Adam and Eve. The world cannot accept the grace and mercy of God. It cannot believe that God just gives His mercy and love freely, without compulsion. It couldn’t bear it, and so seeks to come up with another way, another method of gaining heaven. Works, energy, effort, the harder your pray, the more acts of charity you do, the more stuff you do, well, that must be a sign of God’s favor.
So Jesus asks the man another question, What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? Jesus is asking the man what he recites every day as a faithful Jew. And so this man, in good fashion, responds with the summary of the Law, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus, though, responds with the Law and says, do this and you will live. But this lawyer is not satisfied with Jesus answer, and because the man wants to justify himself, he wants to make himself right with God, he asks Jesus a question, And who is my neighbor? He is thinking in the way of the Law. The way of the Law asks, what is the least amount that I can do and still get into heaven? That’s how we work, too, isn’t it? How many times must I go to church in order to fulfill my duty? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year? But that question betrays the fact that we don’t understand the Gospel. We think like this young lawyer, and we aren’t interested in what God has done for me. We only want to know what I have to do.
So to demonstrate how helpless we all are under sin Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. A certain man went from Jerusalem down to Jericho and fell among thieves. He is stripped, beaten and left for dead. A priest sees him and goes on the other side, and so does a Levite, another keeper of the Law. The impression you get from the text is that these so-called pious men had more important things to do. The priest had to do his duty in the Temple, the Levite had to keep up with his duties for God as well. They didn’t have time for this man who fell on hard times.
But another man came along the road. He was a Samaritan, a outsider and not a part of the chosen people. But he saw this man left for dead and had compassion on him. This Samaritan, this outcast then helps the man, binds up his wounds, pours oil and wine on them, sets him on his own animal, and took him to an inn to care for him. Then this Samaritan says to the innkeeper, Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.
In other words, whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to make this man well. Whatever the cost, it doesn’t matter. I’ll pay the cost. I have bound up his wounds, I have given him healing oil and wine, I have put him on my own animal, my own flesh, as it were. There is no cost too great. I will pay it.
So where are you in the story? We all want to see ourselves as the Good Samaritan, but in fact, in this parable you are the man set upon by thieves. You are helpless, naked, wounded, penniless and left for dead. You can do nothing to save yourself. There is nothing you can do, nothing you can say, no Law you can keep or think you can keep that will make any difference. You might as well be dead without Christ.
But Christ reaches down to you. He takes on your flesh and blood. He became one of us so that we might become like Him. He reaches out his hand, pours the baptismal oil on your wounds and gives you the wine which is His own blood. And He brings you to a safe place, the Inn which is His Church. And He says to the Innkeeper, whatever it takes, I will pay it. There is no cost too great for Jesus to save you! There is nothing He would not do. There is no pain he would not undergo, there is no hurt he will not take. He will take it all into Himself. All for you.
St. Paul said it this way, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). You have done nothing to earn God’s favor and love. Like the man along the road, you are just lying there, dead in trespasses and sins. But God reaches down and holds onto you and gives you His very life. He died so that you might live.
Whatever it takes, I will pay it. Jesus does not measure how much it will take to save you. He doesn’t say, “Ok, you can sin so much and after that you’re on your own.” No. He has paid the price in full with His death and resurrection. For those two go together. As He said in the parable, when I return. Jesus is coming back. He has paid the price, and He is returning to take us home.
So no matter how great your sin, no matter how bad you are or think you are, it isn’t too great for the God who saves us by His blood. As we heard in Hosea 6, “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:1–3 ESV). We may not always understand God’s ways, but one thing is certain: you can look at His cross and know that He loves you, and that He will never leave you nor forsake you. This is the God who does wonders, the God who binds you up and gives you His very flesh and blood so that you might live.
God’s love for you goes deeper than death itself. He is the Good Samaritan; He is the one who seeks you out when you are in the depths. He is the one who can heal you, when nothing else makes sense, when no one else cares, when you are all alone. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.