Christ Lutheran Church
July 10, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Jesus The Good Samaritan
Now, Behold! A lawyer rose up to try him saying, "Teacher! What must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "What is written in Torah? How do you interpret it?" He answered, "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, this do and you shall live." But seeking to justify himself he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem when he encountered robbers who stripped him bare, beat him severely and fled leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road who, seeing him, crossed to the other side. Likewise a Levite happening upon the scene, saw him and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan travelling the same road came over to him and when he saw him he had compassion! He came to his side, bandaged up his wounds and salved them with oil and wine; then he set him on this own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Tend to him and whatever more you spend I will repay you on my return.'
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who encountered robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "Go! Do likewise!"
Martin Luther – the original one after whom no boulevards are named – said that
“Scripture is the cradle of Christ,” by which he meant that to look into Scripture is to see Jesus. To hear Scripture is to hear Jesus.
Now all of this is good and true, but there is more to say because as God is inaccessible to us apart from Christ, even so Christ is inaccessible to us apart from Liturgy: this Divine Service. And that is something we must keep in mind when hearing today’s gospel.
But what do we mean by liturgy? Do we mean the format we follow when we assemble each Sunday? That is part of it, yes! And it is good, true and beautiful! But we must make finer distinctions.
When we speak of the format we can speak of “the liturgy,” with the definite article. “The liturgy.”
But “liturgy” without the definite article, or better yet the verb “to liturgize God” is something more. It means to enter into communion with God if you can imagine such a thing!
A frog embraced by a princess.
A chewed-up toothpick spit out by a tourist in the Great Redwood Forest having fellowship with the Giant Redwood trees!
This Liturgy, this Divine Service, this Holy Communion that we speak of is what St. Paul refers to in today’s epistle when he speaks of: our share in the inheritance of the Saints in Light.” Today we receive a share of our share at this Holy Altar.
But as we hear today’s gospel let us also recognize that there are actually two liturgies taking place: one false, one true!
The false liturgy was a meeting between Jesus and the expert in Jewish Law who entered into the Lord’s presence: not to fall to his knees and worship Jesus like the 3 Wisemen did, or to bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; nor to find the forgiveness of sins. But rather to trip him up, and finally to justify himself so that he could be done with this “turbulent Priest” forever.
But there is also a true liturgy taking place in today’s gospel between the Good Samaritan who is Jesus; the man who encountered the robbers who is us; and the innkeeper who is Christ’s Priest who will never cross to the other side.
And what an encounter it was!
First let us consider the man who met robbers on the road. Like thugs today they were not satisfied to take his valuables and be gone; but amused themselves by beating him, stripping him of his clothes, and leaving him to die a slow death.
We are that man!
We have met up with the notorious Gang of Three!
Devil, culture and flesh.
They have robbed humanity of its original righteousness by the sin of Adam which is passed down from generation to generation! Never skipping one. Sparing one. Or going easy on one, with the result that we all die a painful death. Bit by bit. Day by day.
Because of this God gave written and enforceable law as we hear in today’s Old Testament lesson. The summation of which is this: “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” And if we do conform our lives to that law we will live – just as Jesus told the lawyer who was deposing him.
If the world will hear it, it will be a more pleasant, a less painful and more fulfilling existence for us all.
But Miss America’s vision for “world peace” is easier said than done because the devil, like the lawyer in today’s parable, is bent on stirring up trouble. Which he does via the culture; aimed at our Flesh which is always eager to stick its dripping fingers into every electrical socket it sees.
Yes we are the man,
but Jesus is the Good Samaritan.
Why do we call him Good? Because St. Peter says of him, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
And why do we call him Samaritan? Because as the Samaritans were loathed by the Jews even so Jesus was, “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Is. 53:3)
But this Samaritan proved himself to be something unexpected: an authentic Neighbor to beleaguered men then and now!
He proved himself a Neighbor because of the treatment he provided! He dressed the man’s wounds, and poured oil and wine on them to disinfect and soothe them. In the same way he dresses, soothes and disinfects men from sin and death still today with the oil of the Holy Spirit and the wine of his blood:
sprinkled on us at the font;
and given to us to drink at the altar
so that we might rise up and live!
Do you need a reason to be happy today? This is it! That God the Father, by his Son has “made us worthy to be partakers in the inheritance of the saints in light,” which is to say: this Liturgy. This Holy Communion. Which nourishes us today, and will continue to do so until the Good Samaritan returns “to judge the living and the dead,” which will be the most glorious and wonderful day of all. One that we get a taste of today, and will enjoy unto the ages of ages.