Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity




The Lost Sheep, by Norma Boeckler


The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Ephesians 3:13-21
The Gospel Luke 7:11-16
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #123 Our God Our Help 4.3

Thankfulness to God

The Hymn #371 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24

KJV Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

KJV Luke 7:11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.

Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst send Thy Son to be made flesh, that by His death He might atone for our sins and deliver us from eternal death: We pray Thee, confirm in our hearts the hope that our Lord Jesus Christ, who with but a word raised the widow's son, in like manner will raise us on the last day, and grant us eternal life: through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Thankfulness to God

Ephesisans 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

These two lessons go together well, instead of heading off in different directions, which is what we find in so many Epistle/Gospel selections. One tradition says that the Epistle was read on one side of the church to members, the Gospel read on the other side to prospective believers. When Holy Communion began, the non-members were ushered out and the doors locked. In the Greek liturgy, the priest chants, “The doors, the doors, in wisdom let us attend.” That was the signal to have the non-members ushered out.

One name for Holy Communion is the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving.

Luther preached that the widow lost her son because she was not grateful for her husband and son. Bear with me – this is not about the cruelty of God. It is good to remember the allegoric and symbolic style of Medieval preaching. So, as Luther said, the woman lost her husband and said, “I am still fine. My son will work and provide for me. I am not destitute.” Because she took that for granted, God took her son as well. Then she knew how valuable her husband son were. In Biblical times, a widow had almost no means of support. If she did not have sons or relatives to help her, she was truly destitute and alone.

Luke tells us that this was her only son. Maybe she had daughters, but that meant she had even more burdens to bear. How would they find food and shelter and clothing? How would they get married?

Jesus had compassion on her and told her not to weep. The Savior went to bier and touched it. He spoke and said, “Young man, I say, arise.” And the young man came to life again. A fear came upon everyone because they knew they were in the presence of God.

Luke 7 they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.

Details of this story teach us a number of things. “Faith-healing” is still a way of dismissing all miracles of healing. Some say, “He thought he was sick, saw Jesus, and no longer felt ill. So he thought he was healed.” In this case, the young man, his grieving mother, and the whole crowd – thought he was dead. If this was at the end of a multi-day funeral, no one had any doubts about his demise.

Secondly, Jesus was not asked to do anything. This is an important corrective to a common myth of today – that God is unable to do anything until He is asked, that He can only do what He is asked, that He is more powerful when people pray harder and longer for His help.

Jesus first had compassion on this family, then comforted the widow, and finally raised the young man from death to life.

This is a perfect illustration of what Paul taught:

Ephesisans 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The grieving widow did not ask and her son could not. There is no plea from the crowd, as we read in many cases. Each miracle emphasizes something different.

Before anyone thought to ask, God provided an answer with Christ raising the widow’s son from the dead. Likely, this widow and her son became another part of the circle of believers who established the Christian Church with the leadership of the apostles. She is clearly identified, in the custom of the day (Jesus of Nazareth) so I assume she was known by early readers. Doubtless people in the crowd also believed and continued to be followers, after the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus taught the Word and confirmed His authority with miracles no one could deny. That converted many and enraged others. Fear can become respect or revenge.

Jesus threatened justification by works because He taught the righteousness that must come from God alone, apart from works, received in faith. God declares believers forgiven. They trust in the merits of their Savior and receive His righteousness in faith.

Notice too that Jesus raised the young man from the dead by speaking the Word. The idea is not that the young man could hear anything. This speaking is a continuation of the Biblical doctrine of the Word. When God speaks, there is no difference between His will and His work. “Let there be light” and there was light (before the sun, moon, and stars).

This outward or external Word is an antidote to the Enthusiasts who often imagined and taught falsely that God’s Spirit came to them while they were meditating. Even today, people say, “The Holy Spirit came to me in a dream.” They deny the Holy Spirit coming to them in the divinely appointed Word and Sacraments, but they claim the Holy Spirit makes a personal visit in a dream, as if any human could separate a dream about going to Disneyland from a dream about starting a new mission. And, we might wonder, how many “dreams” are just invented to impress the gullible.

Luther’s point about thankfulness is worth emphasizing. Once the widow lost her son and gained him back, she was definitely thankful to God for providing a blessing she once took for granted.

Lutherans have repeatedly taken the blessings of Biblical doctrine for granted and lost that truth for a period of time.

After the Book of Concord, they fell into philosophical distinctions and abandoned Biblical study.

The lack of Biblical study opened the doors to Pietism, which made headway on those grounds alone. There was a total vacuum in the seminaries where the Bible should have been taught.

The Synodical Conference gloried in itself so much that every discussion revolved around how perfect they were and how dare anyone question that, as if the Lutheran Reformation started in C. F. W. Walther’s study.

Bad events turn into good ones, but only through God’s intervention. Supposedly one of my ancestors was the richest man in Scotland. He loaned money to Charles I, who was executed. My ancestor sued Cromwell and was imprisoned for his trouble. That forced one side of my family over to America. Another side came over because of the French persecution of the Protestants. Someone a branch became Seventh Day Adventists, but moving to Iowa for farming left them without a church. Also, Adventism made farming almost impossible (pork, work rules, etc). So the family became Christian.

I read yesterday about many difficulties, since homesteading worked only if the crops were good and the prices were high. Many families moved here and there for a better life. Finally, both sides of the family lost the farms to the Great Depression. That left my parents reaching adulthood in a time of little cash, few jobs, and general hardship. That made them believe in education, so all of us children obtained what was not even debatable at home – professional degrees.

Now I realize that those old aunts I knew from family reunions were relatives who went through countless hardships and lived without any of the luxuries I already took for granted. They were happy and thankful for what they accomplished with God’s help. The aunt who wrote one family history constantly mentioned their close connection with the Christian Church.

Thanks to incompetence and pure evil, millions are suffering today. The median price of a home in Detroit is $7,000. A photo essay of the city in Time looks like Berlin after WWII. Yet in the midst of this trouble God blesses people, often before they even ask. And He supplies more than we can imagine or think. (Paul Y. Cho is dead wrong.)

KJV Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 10 AM Central

The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Galatians 5:25-6:10
The Gospel Matthew 6:24-34
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #123 Our God Our Help 4.3
The Good Samaritan Is Christ

The Hymn #371 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24

Galatian 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden. 6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

KJV Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for all Thy benefits: that Thou hast given us life and graciously sustained us unto this day: We beseech Thee, take not Thy blessing from us; preserve us from covetousness, that we may serve Thee only, love and abide in Thee, and not defile ourselves by idolatrous love of mammon, but hope and trust only in Thy grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Fruit of the Spirit
Galatian 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
I combined the Epistles for the last two weeks because we missed last week’s service and the two selections are in sequence.

The key to understanding this lesson--and all related passages--is simple, but profound. A correct understanding here means that the great division in Christianity is made clear. On one side are the Enthusiasts. On the other are those who understand the work of the Holy Spirit.

When the Bible speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit, it is always associated with the Word of God. The two are never separated.

Notice how easily people take a passage like this into another realm. When the Spirit is separated from the Word, they look for special signs they have the Spirit. The emphasis is then man-centered. Pentecostals think they have to smile all the time and make plenty of money. As Luther said, and we confess, they talk about Jesus but take away the bridge to Jesus. The Savior comes to us through the Means of Grace.

In the Epistle selections for this Sunday and last Sunday, Spirit and flesh are contrasted, along with Law and Gospel. The situation in the congregation was quite serious. The Gospel was being adulterated by people who wanted to impose Law conditions on the members so those people would be deserving of salvation. The logic was compelling – Jesus was a Jew who obeyed the Torah. So were all the Apostles. The early Church preached in the synagogues until they were expelled, literally thrown out, as Jesus predicted in the Gospel of John.

Our Old Adam wants to have something to offer God – merit, works, obligations, and so forth. When people are weak in the faith, false teachers easily lead them into error. One person said, “I have to witness or God will not let me grow as a Christian.” All the “have to” and “must” language is Law.

Whenever Law is added to the Gospel, the Gospel is turned into Law. The effect of the Law-Gospel confusion is going to be crushing, because the obligations mount up. Or they create vanity, pride, and obstinacy – Look at what I have done for God. In fact, many false teachers are excused for “all they have done for the church,” as if God’s work needs propping up while His Word is being disparaged and diminished.

So why do we have Law and Gospel, flesh and Spirit?

The Law is good, useful, and spiritual, but limited in effect. No one is saved by the Law. The Law cannot produce healing or any good work (on its own). When the Law does influence good works, it is because (third use of the Law) it is reflecting the Gospel, just as the moon has no light of its own but reflects the sun (Luther’s insight).

In this situation, false teachers were making Jewish ritual law mandatory, and that included circumcision. This imposed a load of guilt on people for the wrong reasons. It also encouraged the legalists to think of salvation as conformity to the Law. Both effects were harmful, so that is why Paul used such strong language against it.

Luther used his commentary on Galatians to drive a permanent wedge between all the Protestants (called Evangelicals at first) and the Roman Catholics. He used every possible argument to remove any possibility of mixing Law and Gospel. That is why the Formula of Concord spends so much time on this topic. And Walther left a permanent impact on America with his Law and Gospel lectures – which he gave but did not write down. The lectures were transcribed and published in German, then English.

The Law attacks the flesh, showing us our need for guilt. It is like a medical diagnosis, showing us what is wrong. But the Law also makes people proud when they misuse or misunderstand it. They are like the people who say, “I am in perfect health.” That is so far from the truth that medical examiners mistrust anyone who claims that remarkable achievement. I even saw that written on one report – The client claims (underlined) to have no medical conditions. In fact, he had several which were relatively minor. Why would someone lie about that – deliberately so?

The Law stirs up wrath and opposition. As soon as the Law is announced, even with our own resolutions, we rebel. And yet, we yearn for Law salvation, which is another sign our flesh belongs to our Old Adam.

The confusion of the apostolic era is very much like the invasion of Pietism among the Protestants. In both cases, earnest false teachers wanted to have outward signs of inner salvation, so they invoked the Law to produce those good effects. They turned the “want to” of the Gospel into the “have to” of the Law.

For example, the Bible does not say, “You have to pray or else.” Instead, all the passages encouraging prayer are accompanied by assurance of God’s love, power, and compassion – His faithfulness to His people.

What Paul offers, in contrast, is the Gospel and its fruit. The fruit of the Spirit can only come from the pure Gospel, not the Gospel mixed with Law.

Galatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The list is written to indicate there are many other works of the flesh. That is one way of saying, “If you want what can be seen, then here is what our flesh has to offer, an endless list.” The Law is like the broom sweeper of Pilgrim’s Progress, who stirs up the dust until it chokes everyone.

The Gospel is pure forgiveness and comes to us through the Word and Sacrament. The Gospel announces what Christ has accomplished for us, earning our forgiveness, distributing this treasure through the Means of Grace. A good illustration is infant baptism. The Sacrament is brought to the baby. How offended are those who want a child to “make a decision” or perform some obligation to earn membership in the Kingdom – along with a contradictory claim that babies do not sin or know sin until age 7! (My answer in two words – Terrible Twos. Also – have you ever changed a diaper when a baby resisted with all his might?)

The Holy Spirit distributes the treasure of the Atonement through preaching, teaching, and the Sacraments, but many spurn this treasure in various ways. Faith means trusting in the Word of God, in His Promises. Faith receives what God freely offers in the Means of Grace. Man’s pride tries to change this, making the Christian faith “reasonable” or conforming to a new set of man-made rules, such as Zwingli’s “The Holy Spirit does not need a vehicle, like an oxcart.”

So the baby receives the Gospel in Holy Baptism and the parents nurture this Spirit-Word faith as the child grows. The growing child learns more about the sin and the Gospel as he grows. From the Gospel, and the Gospel alone, will come the fruit of the Spirit. “Do this or else” will not produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The fruit of the Spirit is nine-fold, a trinity of trinities, reminding us of the Three-ness of the One God.

love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, 23 Meekness, temperance.

Those who want an abundance of love will find it as a product of the abundance of the Word, because the Spirit is never without the Word, and the Word is never without the Word. Love does not convert people to the Gospel, as Luther observed. Love is a product of the Gospel. All those trying to love-bomb people into the Kingdom are using the Law. “The ushers have to be friendly or the sermon will have no effect.” What a tragic disrespect for the power of the Word. (Do the silk ribbons saying usher or greeter have to be a cheery color, too?)

Joy is not the same as happiness. The unbelieving world wants us to believe that joy comes from material happiness, in spite of all the contrary evidence. Joy is best represented by the father of a family of five. I don’t know how he managed on his salary, yet every phrase seemed to start with “I am thankful to God for…”
Where people look for joy as a product of material blessings, believers experience joy as a result of the Gospel proclamation. Joy is often experienced in the midst of the cross, because the work of the Spirit is so clear and the vanity of the world so obvious.

Peace – everyone yearns for peace, and the Word directs us to that peace. The Scriptures never address peace apart from forgiveness and salvation. Inner peace can only come from the forgiveness won for us through Christ and received in faith. With that peace, the world may be in turmoil but the heart is calm. Luther’s best phrase is – God does not take the trouble from your heart, but your heart from the trouble.

Much more can be said later about the final six fruits of the Spirit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity


Alpha and Omega, by Norma Boeckler


The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time


The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Galatians 3:15-21
The Gospel Luke 10:23-37
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #123 Our God Our Help 4.3

The Good Samaritan Is Christ

The Hymn #371 Jesus Thy Blood 4.6
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4.24

KJV Galatians 3:15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

KJV Luke 10:23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. 25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Thirteenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank Thee that Thou hast granted us to live in this accepted time, when we may hear Thy holy gospel, know Thy fatherly will, and behold Thy Son, Jesus Christ! We pray Thee, most merciful Father: Let the light of Thy holy word remain with us, and so govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may never forsake Thy word, but remain steadfast in it, and finally obtain eternal salvation; through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

One Parable – Many Wrong Interpretations

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most misinterpreted passages of the Bible.

Many want to make this a parable to proclaim the works of the law, even though the parable is aimed against a lawyer trying to justify himself. For the law mongers, this parable is ideal for telling people how many more good works they have to do. They weigh down their victims with guilt. Instead of promoting good works as the result of the Gospel, they make good works the cause of salvation, which Hoenecke identified as the essence of Pietism.

Old-fashioned works salesmen pick the good works most people would think about – feeding the hungry, visiting the poor, etc.

People get tired of charitable work, so the works salesmen promote radical causes, especially getting the government to pass laws “to redeem society.” So that version of the parable says, “It is not enough to bind the wounds of the afflicted, we must also make the road to Jericho safe!” Political advocacy is highest form of the church’s work, they claim. Thus ELCA spends millions of World Hunger money on political lobbying. Almost 30 years ago, I corresponded with the LCA lobbyist in Washington DC, who was trained at the Augustana Seminary in the Social Gospel Movement. This LCA lobbyist was fired for having an affair with his female assistant. Today he would honored as a saint for being content with a woman.

Right now California is the victim of its own environmental radicalism. The state was made wealthy with engineering projects to capture and use that water. Now the EPA is sending that water into the sea to protect a tiny fish. Agricultural fields are drying up from the ultimate bow to Mother Earth. The governor could intervene but refuses to help the farmers who are out of work and losing their land because of a little fish.

Plain Words of Scripture

The key to understanding this parable is to look at the plain words of Scripture and not turn them into a ball of yard the cat batted around the room.

First of all,

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

This might be seen as neutral since the Jews still have a tradition of trying to trip up the religious leader with a difficult question. This tradition engages the listener and the teacher in the doctrine.

Jesus turned this on the lawyer and asked him about what the Torah said.

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself

This verse above is the classic description of the Law – the vertical dimension of our love toward God and the horizontal dimension of our love toward our neighbor. The two dimensions remind people of the Cross of Christ. Luther often summarized the Word in the same way, so there is nothing wrong at this point.

Jesus said:

28 …Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

An important matter of interpretation is next:

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

This self-justification is the central theme of the Gospels. Either we justify ourselves by our actions, trusting in our own merit and works, or we trust in the merit and works of Christ, Who justifies us by faith.

So the lawyer’s second question was certainly devious, and Christ understood the man’s nature (from the beginning, of course).

The parable can only be seen at aiming for the self-justifying lawyer’s attitude and that attitude in each one of us.

John Bunyan saw what Luther taught – that preaching against sin falls too easily into salvation by works, morality, formalism. So much of Protestant and Catholic preaching focuses on carnal sin, making people think they are justified by their lack of naughtiness. They are confident in themselves, not in Christ.

I had to listen to a class list their religious attitudes recently. A group said, “We are spiritual but not religious.” I had to be silent. One woman said, “I grew up Methodist but now I am very interested in Wicca.” (Wicca is witchcraft.) Two said, “None of your business.” (I wasn’t asking – too painful.) A minority (4 people) identified as Christians in a class of 18. Even if the two who refused to answer were Protestants, a minority had a chance at being justified by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law.

So we can see that the examples in the parable are stinging rebukes of salvation by works.

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

“A certain man” means this is a short story, so he represents a situation, our common one. Sin leaves us half dead on the roadside. Not to worry – the lawmongers will help out.

Priest

A priest had an opportunity to help.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

He not only refused to help, but went out of his way to avoid the beaten, half-dead man. Religious formalism does not save. There are many who observe the outward signs of religion but they scoff at the meaning of the Gospel.

Chief among them are the leaders of the Contempt Services. The ministers have nothing but Contempt for the Gospel, so they entertain people and call it evangelism.

Other ordained entertainers emphasize smells and bells, an elaborate show of religious pomp, amusing in its own way, designed to impress the senses and make people say, “Oh my!”

Levite

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

Levites were another group of religious Jews. The Levite saw the man, perhaps stared at him, and went over to the other side of the road to avoid him. He is another example of religious formalism, where religion is used to excuse a lack of compassion. Strange things are said. One minister did not call on people who were named as prospects from his own church body because, he said, “I have to be a good steward of my time.” That is pretty funny. I can imagine the doilies for the ladies’ aid being ordered on time, thanks to this faithful steward.

Christ – the Samaritan

Samaritans and Jews hated each other because of long-standing religious disputes. So Jesus introduced Himself as a Samaritan, a strange type of example, we might think. But Jesus was “despised and rejected, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

The religious elite did nothing. We know the Judaism of the day was far from the truths of the Scriptures. Many did follow Christ, but the majority rejected Him. “He came to His own people and they received Him not.” (John 1)

So Christ was a Samaritan among His own people.

The parable is rather light on details until the Samaritan acts. Notice all the things done at first, then at the inn, and then promised for later:

1. and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, [the first step in care]
2. And went to him, [instead of passing by on the other side, He comes to us]
3. and bound up his wounds, [the Word heals our wounds]
4. pouring in oil and wine, [oil for Gospel comfort, wine for the Law’s sharpness]
5. and set him on his own beast, [He provides the Gospel for us]
6. and brought him to an inn, [He creates a place for our healing]
7. and took care of him. [He comes to us through the Means of Grace]
8. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, [He never tires of providing even more healing]
9. Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. [He provides abundantly, more than we can imagine, for our eternal salvation.]

The parable is a clear and compelling contrast between empty, religious formalism, salvation by works, and the true Gospel in the Means of Grace.

The lawyer, who sought to justify himself, was asked by Jesus:

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The contrast is between the religious self-justification of the priest/Levite or the compassion of Christ, who does not separate Himself from the half-dead sinner, but comes to him, heals him, and provides for him in the future.

Christ is the true neighbor, not the priest or Levite.

Ironically, almost all sermons on the Good Samaritan end with justification by works, whether condemning people for not having compassion, or scolding them for not advocating social justice.

“Go and do likewise” is an admonition to receive justification from Christ rather than from the Law. The Law leaves us dead on the road to Jericho. And we are reminded that the beaten, robbed, half-dead man cannot heal himself or even make a move toward healing. Moreover, he is penniless. That is our state when Christ comes to us sinners. He takes action for our good. He comforts and heals. He provides for our future forgiveness and eternal life.


Quotations
Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
Covenant and Grace

"The Old Testament dealt with the promises of God to the chosen people. Thereby God placed Himself in 'covenant' relation to Israel (berith). This relation, like the promises and the gifts of God to Israel, is always onesided. It is always God's covenant, not Israel's, and not a mutual agreement, not a suntheke. This promise and covenant indeed obligates Israel, and Israel assumes these obligations, but the covenant emanates entirely from God." R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938, p. 235. Hebrews 7:22;

"To be sure, Baptism is so great that if you turn from sins and appeal to the covenant of Baptism, your sins are forgiven. Only see to it--if you sin in this wicked and wanton manner by presuming on God's grace--that the judgment does not lay hold of you and forestall your turning back. And even if you then wanted to believe and trust in your Baptism, your trial might by God's decree, be so great that faith could not stand the strain. If they scarcely remain in the faith who do no sin or who fall because of sheer weakness, where will your brazen wickedness remain, which has challenged and mocked God's grace? Let us, therefore, walk with care and fear that we may hold fast the riches of God's grace with a firm faith and joyfully give thanks to His mercy forever and ever. Amen." Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 57. Treatise on Baptism, 1519
"And, in a word, it remains eternally true what the Son of God says, John 15:5: Without Me ye can do nothing. And Paul, Philippians 2:13: It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation this precious passage is very comforting; for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness, and that He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II. 14. Free Will Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 885. Philippians 2:13; John 15:5

"These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the Father, and are eternally saved." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 10 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 919.

"Moreover, neither contrition nor love or any other virtue, but faith alone is the sole means and instrument by which and through which we can receive and accept the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, which are offered to us in the promise of the Gospel." Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, III 31 Righteousness Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 925.