Pentecost 8 (no audio this week)
Passage: Luke 10:25–10:37
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 10:25-37
Date: July 10th, 2016; Pentecost 8; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We heard a question in our Gospel lesson this morning that is the most important question that we could ever ask.
There is absolutely nothing more important than having the answer to this question.
We heard this question asked in our Gospel lesson when a lawyer asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Just consider that question for a moment. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Questions that pertain to this life are important.
What will the weather be like tomorrow? What should I do when I finish High School? How can I best plan for my retirement?
Questions like these can have a big impact on our lives.
But this life is short. This life passes before we know it.
Eternal life on the other hand - well, it’s eternal! It’s everlasting. It’s without end.
So what could be more important than finding the answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Fortunately for us, God has given us the gift of an answer. He has revealed it to us.
In fact, God in the flesh was directly asked this question and God in the flesh directly answered it.
As good teachers often do, Jesus answered the lawyer’s question with a question of his own. He asked, “What is written in the Law?”
The lawyer (being an expert in the Law) correctly 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 neighbour as yourself.”
Jesus told the lawyer he was right, “Do this, and you will live.”
There it is. The answer to the most important question we could ever ask is so simple – “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 neighbour as yourself.”
Love God with everything that you are and love your neighbour as yourself - and eternal life is yours.
I suppose Jesus’ answer to the lawyer’s question isn’t all that surprising.
It really isn’t any different than what all of the other religions in the world say too - they all teach “be devoted to god, live a good and holy life, and you will be rewarded with heaven.”
So there it is. Simple.
But, it isn’t that simple, is it?
Sure, it might sound easy to be completely devoted to God - but when we reflect upon our lives, and when we are honest with ourselves, we understand how truly difficult it is.
How often we fail at loving God with all of our heart.
How often we love ourselves more than him.
God wants to be first, the very foundation of our lives, every moment that we live.
But how often he ends up being pushed way down (if not to the very bottom!) of our list of life priorities.
God wants us to spend time in devotion and pray. He wants us to take a Sabbath Day, a day of rest, a day to spend some time to receive his gifts and to worship him, a day to set aside the cares of the world and be in communion with him.
Yet, it seems difficult for us to give him even an hour a week - let alone a day.
Sundays have become like any other day, filled with this and that.
When Service starts to go over an hour we start to check our watches and wonder what’s going on.
During Divine Service it’s easy to find ourselves thinking of other things, maybe about what we are going to have for lunch or about that lawn that needs to be cut.
Then there is our neighbour.
Sure, it might sound easy to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, but when we reflect upon our lives, and when we are honest with ourselves, we understand how truly difficult this is too.
Now, the neighbours who brings over the pies and cookies, the ones who share the same interests as you, the ones who you get along with – those neighbours are a bit easier to love.
But the ones who get on your nerves, the ones who get in your way, the ones you disagree with – those ones are tough to love.
What about our neighbours around the world who don’t have the basic necessities of life? We love ourselves enough to get what we need – what about them?
It’s important for us to be honest with ourselves that we may understand that Jesus’ simple answer of “do this and eternal life is yours”- is not so simple at all.
This is the lesson that he taught the lawyer in our Gospel reading and this is the lesson he teaches all of us this morning.
How confident would you be if your eternal life was based on how well you love God above all things and on how well you love your neighbour as yourself?
When we look into the mirror of God’s holy Law, all we can say is, “Lord, have mercy.”
When the lawyer, desiring to justify himself, then asked, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus answered through a parable, commonly known as the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Often this parable is misunderstood and taught only as an example for us to follow. We are taught that we should be like the Good Samaritian.
And it is true that we should help others when they are in need. But there is far more.
Here is another take on the parable.
Again, we heard, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead."
This beaten man is us. The devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh have mugged us with our own sin and have left us for dead on the side of the road.
“Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”
The Priest and the Levite are the law. The law requires us to help ourselves. There is nothing in the law that will step forward and help us. If we can't keep the law perfectly on our own, then it condemns us to eternal death.
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'”
The Samaritan is none other than Jesus Christ himself. He generously applies the oil of his righteous life and the wine of his own blood.
Jesus then takes us to the inn of the church that our souls may be cared for. He has left his Word, Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Lord's Supper with the inn of the church.
He has given his pastors instructions to distribute these means of grace to tend to the well being of all those who have been mugged and beaten up by sin.
Finally, the day will come when our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ will return to make all things right. Sin, death, and the devil will no longer bother us because they will be gone for good.
Just as Jesus rose from the dead in an immortal body, we too shall rise from the dead never to die again.
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Our only hope is the Gospel of our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ.
Only he can rescue us and bring us healing. Only he offers us forgiveness, life, and salvation.
In Christ, we do love God our whole heart. In Christ, we do love our neighbour as ourselves. We consider the love and mercy that Christ has shown us and we go and do likewise. It is who we are and what we do as God’s redeemed people. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.