Jesus speaks to us today, saying,
“36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Last week we heard of those who disobeyed Jesus and His explicit command to keep silent. Today we hear again, Jesus demanding the transgression of the Law in order that mercy be shown and not sacrifice.
Jesus demands our silence that we would hear Him speaking, because just as the Pharisee prayed loudly in the
Temple, so also do our priest and Levite have
loads to say, but this time with just their actions.
Again, they are simply keeping God’s Law. They are keeping themselves ritually clean in order that they would be able to offer sacrifices for the rest of
their neighbors, for the forgiveness of their sins. That’s pretty noble, isn’t
Yes, you say, yes. Keeping God’s law and giving your life to Him should be top priority. Even Jesus says so: “You shall have no other gods”. Moses also said this to
when they had made a golden calf to worship, but I don’t see that here, so the
priest and the Levite must be doing the right thing.
And here is Satan’s trick. He knows what God has said and he knows what Jesus is saying. If there is a chance to set those two things against each other and create unbelief, he will use it. And here it is for this lawyer: do I obey God or do I obey you, Jesus?
The correct answer is yes. Do both, for in this parable, Jesus sets two ways of salvation before you: one is the law of Moses and the other is the Gospel of Christ.
Jesus has spoken in your hearing before and said that Moses and all the prophets are summed up in one Command: love. Love God; love your neighbor as yourself. Not puppy love, friendly love, or erotic love, but all of your love. Not just Tuesday love or thank God its Friday love, but every day love.
You are commanded to love as Jesus loved; showing mercy and compassion to all, especially your enemies. You are to love by laying down your life for your friends. But what comes after that? Movies and stories love to leave a happy ending where the ultimate sacrifice was worth it, but if you lose your life for your friends or just your livelihood, have you really been a Good Samaritan, as Jesus demands?
Repent. The Law leaves room for many interpretations and allows many to walk along that path of doing good, but not completing good. The priest and the Levite show us exactly how well the Law worked for their neighbor and the many ways it can be interpreted. From your youth, you have travelled this path in your sin. When you needed to get out of trouble, it didn’t bother you one bit to lie or twist the truth, even at the expense of your neighbor.
You were once alive apart from the Law, but once God gave the Command, sin became alive and you died (Rom.7:9). No one has ever been saved through the Law, why are you trying? This wide way, even heard in God’s holy commands, is a law of sin and death (
Rom. 8:2); it is a Law that kills
and sin must be killed.
As holy and godly of a path as the Law of Moses presents to us, “now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom.3:21). By commands of the Law, no one will be justified, but apart from the Law, the priests, and the Levites cometh Jesus: the righteousness of God through faith alone (Rom.3:22).
This Gospel of Christ is a gift. Justification is a gift. Righteousness is a gift, not that we nullify the Law, but that it is established, by the Lord, through Faith. Thus, Faith comes by hearing, not by works. Belief becomes the primary factor in salvation and belief comes in witnessing the words and actions of Jesus.
You may attempt to sell all you have and give it to the poor, but what about the next poor person that comes your way? What do you give to him? Jesus descends into the virgin’s womb solely in order to give everything that He has to you. And He can do that over and over again, because He is God and God has no lack.
Jesus is the Good Samaritan. Jesus purposefully walks along your wide road of sin and death in order to take you off it and give you His eternal life, because that’s the real question, right? “How do I inherit eternal life?
Jesus is the rich God who has no lack and yet sells all this, on the cross, to purchase you. An inheritor does nothing to deserve the inheritance. He is simply born to the right person. Likewise, you must be born towards God and that is accomplished through baptism.
Jesus finds you, not just half-dead, but all dead in your sin. No good works coming out of that kind of condition. Instead, Jesus gives you His good works. He allows you to be God’s neighbor, giving you the healing mercies of heaven and opening a heavenly tab for your sin that lasts for all eternity.
It is not that we want to get around God’s Law or continue to sin. It is that Jesus won’t let us pass without first going through Him. Its not that we don’t want to hallow the Law and hold it sacred, Jesus has become the man to surpass and fulfill the Law, bringing its curse of guilt and death to an end.
Truly loving God is only expressed in the divine Service where the Holy Ghost opens our eyes and our ears to understand what it really means that Christ “came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28).
If your works could have brought you sanctification, Jesus would not have been needed; Moses being good enough. If your acts of charity and kindness contributed to one iota of your godliness, Christ would not have had to suffer.
The Way that leads to Life is narrow, because it is only about one beam long and one cross-beam, across. The Way that leads to you inheriting eternal life is you being made a part of the Body of Jesus.
Truly loving your neighbor is bringing him to receive the same gifts of salvation, life, and forgiveness that you receive from the hand of Jesus. For, Jesus “gave those who believe in His Name the power to become children of God” (Heb.1:12).
That Name is placarded over a dying man on a cross. That Name is dwelling, as a man, at the Right Hand of God. That Name is sparkling and shinning in the darkness and resting upon your forehead. In the baptism of your salvation, you were set upon the Way of the Gospel of Jesus, having been washed in rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel of Life, your feet have been made to stand in Faith and in the Bread of life, which you eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. In Faith, you not only know what mercy is, but also give it perfectly to others.
And, “having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ [alone] in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed; for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God ‘gives grace to the humble’ (1 Pet. 5:5), and ‘whoever humbles himself will be exalted’ (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts.The law effects fear and wrath, [Jesus] effects hope and mercy.” (Luther. AE 31:50)