13th Sunday after Trinity
September 10, 2017 AD
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
From the Gospel for this Sunday, from the tenth chapter of St. Luke:
“Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.“
In the Gospel just read there are a number of questions, and I want to begin this morning by asking another question, “Where do you see yourself in this very familiar story?”
I suspect that all of us can remember times – perhaps lots of times! – when we’ve been just like the priest and the Levite: in the face of human need right there in front of us, we’ve chosen as they did to ignore the whole situation. There have also been times when, like the Good Samaritan, we’ve chosen to help. And there have been times when we’ve found ourselves beaten and robbed, perhaps not literally – but beaten up by life, defeated, put down, terribly discouraged, and unable to get up and go on without help – perhaps lots of help – from other people. So where do you see yourself in this story?
But there is another and far more important question, and that question is this: Where do you see Jesus in the story? For, as we know, in all the parables He told our Lord was pointing to what God was doing through Him.
Well the answer to that question is suggested in what Jesus says at the very end of the parable. He asks the teacher of the Law, “Which of these three – the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan – proved neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” And of course the only possible answer to that question is, “The one who showed mercy him.” THE ONE WHO SHOWED MERCY ON HIM! Now those words of course apply to countless human beings all through the ages, but, in the deepest and most perfect sense the Lord Jesus Himself is “the one who showed mercy on him.” On whom? On Adam and Adman’s whole fallen race, on you and me.
There is also this. At least once during our Lord’s life His enemies in fact called Him a Samaritan, a name of utter contempt! For the Samaritans who were descendants of Jews who’d inter-married with Gentiles were despised by most Jews, viewed by them as truly beneath contempt. Now, this accusation of Jesus was of course cruel and not literally true, but the words of Jesus’ enemies do strangely point to the mystery of who Jesus in fact is. For although Himself the sinless eternal Son of God, Jesus was like a Samaritan, “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and, as one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not” – just as the prophet Isaiah said.
And there is also this. The Good Samaritan helped the robbed and beaten man at great cost to himself. For there was of course the danger that the bandits who’d attacked the man lying there beside the road might still be there, hiding and ready to attack the unwary traveler; and there was the expense of paying the innkeeper until the robbed and wounded man would be sufficiently recovered to go on his way.
And isn’t this exactly what God’s Son did for us? Like the Good Samaritan He came to our aid at great cost to Himself, He became like any Samaritan “despised and rejected.” He gave His life in exchange for ours. He went down into death and the grave and then rose from the dead, raising us with Him. Jesus pours the “wine and oil” of His forgiving love on our sin-stained souls. His holy Church is the “inn” where he nurses us back to health as we daily receive from Him forgiveness to begin again and are fed by Him with the Bread of eternal life and the Cup of everlasting salvation, His precious, life-giving Body and Blood. Yes, THE LORD JESUS IS THE TRUE GOOD SAMARITAN!
So, where do we see ourselves in this familiar and beautiful story? Surely the deepest truth is that you and I and all the whole world are that wounded and beaten man rescued by the Lord Jesus, the dear Savior who came to our aid, who does come to our aid, and who will in the end raise us up to the life everlasting the joy eternal.
And the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting, Amen.