The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (C)
“What Shall I Do?”
July 14, 2019
Sermon Text: Luke 10:25–37
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
We have before us this morning in our Gospel lesson a well-known account. Any time this occurs (which is quite frequently), you and I run the risk of “mentally checking out” during the discussion because, to us, it appears there is nothing new here… nothing that we do not already know.
To believe such in regard to any portion of Holy Scripture is a big mistake because even if we had heard verses and chapters a thousand times or more, God the Holy Spirit continues to reaffirm eternal truths found in the same as well as open our eyes to new truths, new aspects that previously escaped our attention and consideration.
The “Parable of the Good Samaritan” as we know it, is precipitated by this man asking Jesus “Who is my neighbor? Who constitutes being ‘a neighbor’ to me? Oh, how we all, to a person, need to be reminded of the answer that is forthcoming from the lips of our dear Savior. To be reminded that for us, our neighbor includes everyone other than ourselves, who we are to love as ourselves.
Keep in mind that this man… a lawyer we are told… is putting Jesus to the test… something that the Jewish leaders were constantly doing. And each and every time, our Lord uses the circumstances of such as an opportunity to teach… to declare God’s Word, God’s will, God’s ways.
The first question posed by this lawyer to Jesus is “What shall I do to inherit eternal life.” (Luke 10:25)
What shall I do Teacher?
The test before our Lord is if He will uphold the “party line” … if He will attest to the fact that for anyone to inherit eternal life, they must keep the Law of God.
No problem. Christ affirms this as He asks the lawyer “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)
The man responds, “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.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:27-28)
The lawyer was right. Love is the fulfilling of God’s Law… both tables of the Law. Love God… love your neighbor and eternal life is yours.
The problem is… how the lawyer and the Jews were “reading that”… understanding that… as if it were possible to do… for them to do… they who were God’s chosen.
It is not possible, however. For them… for us… for any human being to keep God’s Law perfectly for to break one small part of it, is to break it all. It is all… or nothing. Keeping God’s Law… God’s will… perfectly… something that, yes, God demands, but we… living in this sinful, faulty and weak flesh… cannot do.
And the lawyer gives our Lord the perfect opportunity to show this in regard to loving our neighbor as ourselves. The parable that Christ shares must have been embarrassing or should have been embarrassing to this Jew who hears of what the priest and the Levite… his own… do in regard to the poor man, bloodied, beaten, robbed and left half dead… “they saw and passed by on the other side.” They wouldn’t even come close to “their neighbor” for to do so… to certainly help, comfort and aid this man… would have rendered them “unclean” according to Jewish law… not God’s Law.
Further embarrassing was who actually helped the victim… a Samaritan… one of those who was looked down up and considered an outcast by the Jews. He fulfilled the Law of God.
If the lawyer only knew that the Samaritan in this parable is actually Jesus and that our Lord is speaking of Himself here in terms of what He will do and now had done in regard to all mankind. He kept the Law, fulfilled the Law perfectly for us… as true Man as well as true God… as our substitute.
Christ… He who like the Samaritans was considered an outcast by the Jews.
Christ, who like this Samaritan, had compassion… seeing us and all mankind robbed of our eternal treasures by the Evil One… bloodied and beaten by Satan and the world.
Christ, who comes to us and lovingly binds up our wounds – physical and spiritual.
Christ, who brings us to the inn… to His Holy Church… were we are cared for and attended to.
Christ, who pays for it all, not with gold or silver mind you, but with His holy, precious body and blood.
Christ, who will return and generously repay all who care for others.
My friends, we see how off track and misguided this lawyer was in today’s Gospel account… as is the case with the vast majority of people in the world who want to know “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
The answer to them is that they can do nothing and that on their own all that they will inherit is eternal death… in hell.
But the Good News lies in the Good Samaritan… Jesus Christ… in whom there is forgiveness, life and salvation.
He who has shown us mercy and continues to show us mercy.
He who binds up the broken hearted… the broken in spirit… the broken in body and mind and makes us whole again.
He who showers us with abundant love… His love… divine love… that we, by His Spirit, can in turn show toward God and toward others… all others. And such is our joy as Christians… as the Lord’s own.
Where the world and all who are blinded by sin constantly ask “What shall I do?” We and all God’s people focus and ceaselessly rejoice in what Christ has done for us… and this completely… for which we give thanks and praise here now in time and soon, in eternity. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“What Shall I Do?” 7/14/19 The Rev. Mark H Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL.