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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity. The Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan, by Norma Boeckler

The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 281     The Savior Calls               1:29
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       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #259            Flung to the Heedless Winds 1:64 

The Savior Is the Good Samaritan

The Communion Hymn # 308 Invited, Lord, by Boundless Grace                    1:63
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 # 464     Blest Be the Tie That Binds            1:39 

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.



The Savior Is the Good Samaritan

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.

The introduction to this parable is significant, because the opening verses point to the significance of this Gospel lesson.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan must be important because it is often taught exactly wrong. What Luke preserves as a perfect example of the Gospel is almost always taught as Law. Every religion in the world is a religion of Law, - except the Christian faith. In other words, those religions teach what man must do for God, not what God has done for man.

Therefore, the Law salesmen always make this an occasion for making everyone feel guilty about how little they have done. The latest example is having the new senior pastor arrive in church as a homeless man so he could shame everyone about how little they did for him when they saw him as a poor, dirty hobo. If motivating people through the Law actually worked, we would have a perfect world by now, but it does not.

Jesus admonished His disciples so they would realize they were a very special era, in which God’s grace would be revealed before their eyes. They would hear the Gospel and see the divine power of the Savior. In fact, hardly anyone got to see and hear all of this. Crowds got to hear and see some things, but they varied. The disciples had three years of training, with all the public events and the private teaching as well.

Three years is often the maximum amount of coursework for a doctorate, and no one is tutored privately so extensively. The disciples had unique opportunities and training. And they witnessed miracle after miracle, with everything being explained to them.

Because the world groaned under the weight of sin and the Law, their experience was unique, because that time was coming to a close and they witnessed it. The prophets and kings of the Old Testament – even of the ancient world – longed to know this spiritual wisdom from God, and the disciples had a full measure of it.

Alexander the Great, 300 years before, risked his life just to visit the ancient oracle of Egypt (since Greeks looked to Egypt for its earlier knowledge). The Parthenon is beautiful, but what was that compared to one pyramid? Of course, the pagan oracle was a sham, but the site attracted the soldier who conquered the world.

So much greater is it to hear the words of Jesus and to see Him at work.

As I have written before, other world religions have a poor grasp of their founder and little valid information about the founder’s life, if he even existed (as in Taoism). But in Christianity God has preserved the life and teachings of Jesus, revealing them through men who lived at the same time. Although secular historians will not acknowledge the Holy Spirit, they have to agree that the New Testament is remarkable in its factual precision. Thus God has established His Gospel so that no one can assail it. Many do and find themselves converted to the faith or driven mad by their increasing hardness of heart and spiritual blindness. How else can someone explain former pastors who dedicate their lives to mocking the Christian faith, spending money to undermine their former faith, which they pledged to teach?


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?

The lawyer is an interesting character. He is clearly not the model for how we should think about the Gospel, because his question is, “What must I do to be saved?” not “What must I believe?” And this lawyer’s question catches some because listeners will start with that law question and see the Good Samaritan as a fine example of making everyone feel terrible about breaking the Law of God.

But the beginning of the parable is also an example of why we need to read in context, because of this phrase – “but he, willing to justify himself.” We know that no one can justify himself. Only God can do that through the Word. So the lawyer was eager to portray himself as a fine fellow and gain the praise of everyone.

Jesus turned the question on the lawyer. What is written in the Law? The man answered according to the well known summary of the Two Tables. The First Table governs our love of God, the Second Table our love of our neighbor. The Old Testament, rabbis, and Jesus agreed about this.

The Jewish tradition is to challenge the teacher, which is good for the teacher and the audience. The lawyer did not ask about God. He skipped over that issue altogether, as if to say, “I have the First Table down through my obedience and pure life. I only need a good definition of neighbor. Who is my neighbor.”

 

This parable depends on the relationship between believing and doing. They are not separate but connected by the Word of God. Believing in the Triune God means serving our neighbor out of thanksgiving for all our blessings.

In contrast, a law religion will teach people that they are loved by God for all they do. And this leads people to think of themselves as exceptional for performing all the necessary works of the law.

So the question “who is my neighbor” is given a strange twist from the start by naming the key character, the good one, as a certain Samaritan. And the victim is “a certain man.” The word “certain” gives away the story as a parable, a spiritual story with great meaning. Everyone loves to hear stories, and we remember stories better than the purely abstract lesson within the story. But the story details make us remember the lesson itself.

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.

A famous LCA pastor, Franklin D. Fry, said the meaning of this parable was that we should make the road to Jericho safe. The Social Gospel Movement (all law) taught that, but Jesus did not. In fact, there is not even a hint of that imaginary lesson in the parable.

A man fell among thieves – it was not his fault. They robbed him and beat him, leaving him half dead on the road. There he would have died without help. His own countrymen, religious leaders, crossed the road to pretend they never saw him. They acted, of course, but they acted to avoid seeing his misery and taking time for him. This is how the law can work on law salesmen – I did not see it, so that is why I did nothing.

The man’s condition is our condition without the Gospel. We cannot help ourselves. We are weak, helpless, dying. The healers-by-law are no help. Some say, “You need more self-esteem,” which is difficult to manage while perishing. Others have a program for solving all problems. Every day I am promised a chance to make $8,000 a month from home – but I do not want to be a mortgage broker.

Luther:

28. The man who here lies half dead, wounded and stripped of his clothing, is Adam and all mankind. The murderers are the devils who robbed and wounded us, and left us lying prostrate half dead. We still struggle a little for life; but there lies horse and man, we cannot help ourselves to our feet, and if we were left thus lying we would have to die by reason of our great anguish and lack of nourishment; maggots would grow in our wounds, followed by great misery and distress.

I have to wonder about the two religious leaders, too. Obviously this is a pointed example of where Pharisaical law had misled the people. If that certain man is not a neighbor, the religious leader owes him nothing.

So many victims of abusive churches are left on the side of the road today, beaten, robbed, and left to die. Worst of all, they are in danger of losing all faith, because the pious members and clergy think right is wrong, wrong is right. Many know what is going on, but they pass by on the other side after looking. That is the result of preaching the synod instead of the Gospel.

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.

a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was

The certain Samaritan is a figure of Christ. Every action of the Samaritan shows us what the Savior does for us.

First – He comes to us, because we are too weak to come to Him. He provides the Gospel and faithful teachers so we can hear His Word of forgiveness through the cross.

When I wondered what was going wrong in the LCA, a pastor resigned and left about 30 boxes of books to be removed from his parish. LCA members retrieved them and I sorted through them. One was co-authored by an LCA missionary I knew personally. I heard him preach. He did not pass by on the other side of the road. His article was in a book by John W. Montgomery, another man I got to know later – someone who bought all the books I wrote.

There is always someone out there to help those beaten up on the road to Jericho.

Jesus comes to us through the Word and Sacraments, always through the visible and invisible Word, through His helpers. We have the privilege of conveying that message which belongs to God alone.

when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

When we are wounded and weak, Jesus does not blame us and tell us how we had that coming to us. After all, that is what friends and relatives are for. Instead, He has compassion on us when He sees us in this condition.

Those with a weak and battered faith can pray for relief and they will be answered by God and given help.

Others are so lost and blind that they do not know where to go for help. But that can be just like the underground tunnels of the Mayo Clinic. All the staffers seem to be trained to look for the confused stare, because the place is an underground marvel, but also a maze. My wife and I never spent more than a few seconds wondering where to go before a staffer said, “Are you lost? Let me help.”

Faithful Christians help the lost, even when they are so lost that they reject help in a hostile, aggressive manner.

Someone in a stupor from falsehood should be agitated, confused, angry, and too quick to fight against help. That should be expected.

Compassion means to suffer with. No one knows that better than Christ, who became the Samaritan for us, Isaiah 53 – rejected, mocked, beaten, yet suffering for our sins and rising from the dead to give us eternal life.

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.

The medicine of the day was to use wine to kill bacteria and oil to start the healing. People are still using alcoholic drinks today for emergency medicine (externally) and oil to heal skin problems.

Luther saw the oil as the soothing and healing of forgiveness. The wine is the sharpness of the cross, which follows faith in Christ. When a Mormon became a believer, his wife threw him out of the house. The cross was a bitter one for him and he could have abandoned this new faith. But his wife read the booklets that converted him and welcomed him back, because she became a believer too.

Jesus initiates everything through His chosen instruments of grace and faithful followers.

set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The law salesmen of today, even when they pose as Gospel ministers, ask, “What can you do for me?”

But the Samaritan does far more than the initial first aid. Here are three more actions.

Luther:

32. But Christ, the true Samaritan, takes the poor man to himself as his own, goes to him and does not require the helpless one to come to him; for here is no merit, but pure grace and mercy; and he binds up his wounds, cares for him and pours in oil and wine, this is the whole Gospel from beginning to end. He pours in oil when grace is preached, as when one says: Behold thou poor man, here is your unbelief, here is your condemnation, here you are wounded and sore. Wait! All this I will cure with the Gospel. Behold, here cling firmly to this Samaritan, to Christ the Savior, he will help you, and nothing else in heaven or on earth will. You know very well that oil softens, thus also the sweet, loving preaching of the Gospel gives me a soft, mild heart toward God and my neighbor, so that I risk my bodily life for the sake of Christ my Lord and his Gospel, if God and necessity require it.

33. But wine is sharp and signifies the holy cross that immediately follows.

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.

So the Samaritan does the initial rescue but also stays to care for the man and promises to return to help even more, after giving some money in advance for the care provided at the inn.

This superabundance of detail and help shows us how much God does to keep us in the fold after gathering us into the flock.

 

We see the shepherd at work in Sassy. She helped rescue a lost little boy, licking his tears and kissing his face, walking him back to his home with me. The next time she saw him on the street, she ran to him to renew the friendship and kiss his face.

Like it or not, the boy is now part of her growing flock. She constantly reaches out to befriend more people and dogs. It is her nature to care for others, to protect them, to keep them safe, and bring them home. How much more is the Savior dedicated to bring us home as well?

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.

Oh, this fools so many false teachers, who want to close with “Do likewise,” while ignoring the work of the Savior.

This parable answers – Who is the neighbor? But not in the way that the law-mongers want. Christ is the neighbor, becoming the Samaritan for us, dying on the cross for our sins, taking rejection, mockery, and sorrow.

Therefore, faith in Him is the beginning of all good works. To understand the Samaritan is to see Christ. Turning the Samaritan into another law-giver is converting the Savior into Moses and making Moses into our Redeemer – if we only do enough, give enough, and sacrifice enough.

 

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. 


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