THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Sunday of the Good Samaritan
August 26, 2018
The Samaritan Who Saved Us
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
You would have stopped. If you saw a dying man on the side of the road, you would stop to help. And if you didn't know how to actually bind up his wounds, you'd call 911.
Everyone already knows that they should help dying people on the side of the road. So why does Jesus tell us this story?
Number one: remember that Jesus tells stories to show us His generosity and gracious love in action.
In this story we are a lot of the people.
We are the robbers—we just don't use guns or knives. We use our words to beat up our neighbors, the people in our lives. We beat up our parents because it is always easier to critize than to help. We beat up our church leaders because it is always easier to critize than to help. We beat up our spouse because it is always easier to critize than to help. Which words rolls easily off of our tongues? “I love you?” Or, “You always . . . ?”
We are the priest and Levite who walk on by. We don't walk past car wrecks or broken bodies in the road. But we certainly move away from neighbors in need. At times this ignoring is motivated by malice and anger, other times laziness and indifference, and still other times by selfishness and frustration.
We walk on by because we know that the neighbor in need will take time away from what we want to be doing. Their lives are messes and we don't know how to help, so we just don't go there.
We walk on by because we have a grudge against them and need to show them that they are still wrong and we are still right.
Often we walk on by our neighbors by going towards them, but slowly and grudgingly. Getting up with annoyance when a kid is crying in the night. Opening our wallets without cheer and thankfulness to support the work of the Church. Going to work with gloom because you think no one appreciates your work.
And we are certainly the dying man, who is as good as dead. By ourselves we are dying on our way to the grave because we are filled with sin. And our sin is killing us and it is harming our neighbor.
We are beaten up.
We beat up other neighbors.
We ignore the needs of our neighbors.
We are everyone in this story, except for one.
And when He comes, the story gets good.
The Samaritan comes and finds this dead man, who is us, in the ditch. He is supposed to hate this man. He is supposed to hate us. He is supposed to walk away. And He'd be right to do so.
But Jesus is the Good Samaritan and He doesn't do what the world thinks is right. He always does the unexpected. So instead of leaving us to die, He binds us our wounds and picks us up. He washes away our sin with His Word. He feeds us with His living body and blood under bread and wine.
And He pays the cost of our care with His own life. He places Himself into the hands of robbers, evil men, who beat Him up. Then they put Him on a cross while priests, Levites, and so many hundreds, even thousands, of His neighbors walked on by. Some ignored Him probably; others jeered and taunted Him.
Yet He remained in the ditch that was the cross. And He died for you, trading in His life for yours.
Jesus tells us the story of the Good Samaritan because He is our only neighbor who generously and unexpectedly rescues us from the ditch of our sin and death. He nurses us back to health. We are alive and well because He found us.
We aren't the Good Samaritan in the story; Jesus is. But He calls us to use our lives to go to our neighbors and spend time with them, to spend money on them, and to tell them this good story of our Good Neighbor.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Boehringer has been preaching Christ and Him crucified to himself and to his congregation at Gethsemane since 2009.