The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #361 O Jesus King 4.1
The Confession of Sins
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.