Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jesus, Our Good Samaritan

The Gospel lesson today from the historic (one-year) lectionary was the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:23-37).  This is surely one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted passages in all of Holy Scripture.  People often read this text and conclude that it is an exhortation from our Lord to be a good neighbor, like the Samaritan was to the man who fell among robbers and lay half dead.  Not so.  The point of the parable, rather, is to call those who think they can justify themselves by fulfilling the Law to repentance, and to invite them to trust in the only Good Samaritan who ever lived - Jesus the Christ.  Rightly understood, this parable is dripping with Gospel sweetness, for it shows how our Lord has compassion and mercy upon we who have been waylaid and left for dead by the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.  The Law, represented by the priest and the Levite, passes us by, for it can offer no help to us - our failure to keep it perfectly and completely as required is the reason we lie helpless and wounded.  Only the Good Samaritan, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who met the perfect demands of the Law in His perfect, sinless life, and paid the full price for our failure to keep that Law with His Holy and Innocent Blood on the cross, can pick us up, tend to our wounds, and provide for our healing and safekeeping.  And so He does!  He applies the healing balm of oil and wine (Baptism and Holy Communion), puts us on His own animal (think of the donkey upon which He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday bearing our sins to win our salvation), and brings us safely to the Inn of His Holy Church.  He pays our bill in full and continues to tend to our needs by means of the innkeepers He calls and ordains to serve in His stead and by His command.  How awesome is this Good Samaritan of ours!  He truly has done all things well.  Trust in Him and Him alone.  Receive that which He desires to give - forgiveness, life, and salvation - via His Holy Word and Sacraments.  Remain in the safety of His Inn.  Do this - receive Jesus, the Good Samaritan - and you will live!

We thank and praise You, O Jesus, for being our Good Samaritan.  May we rest securely in the safety of Your Holy Church, where You continually and richly provide for our healing, strength, and preservation in the one, true faith, that we may live in You, with You, and for You, now and into eternity.  In Your Holy Name.  Amen.

To read, or listen to, the sermon I preached upon this text this morning, you may click here.      

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