Christ’s Love Enables us to Love and Forgive
Luke 10:23-37 - 13th Sunday after Trinity - August 25, 2013

Everyone likes the parable of the Good Samaritan. Because everyone agrees that all the world needs, is more love. If everyone had the warm, sincere heart of the Good Samaritan, what problems would exist? We grow tired of hearing day after day about more conflict in the middle east. But if there was only true love in the hearts of all people, all fighting would cease.

With only pure love in the world, there would be no more war, no more violence. No more crime. No more theft. No more stealing, killing, no more abortion. No more hurt feelings. All the world needs, is more love, more gentleness, more forgiveness, more compassion, more patience – and all our problems would be gone.

The idea just sounds so nice, doesn’t it? The thought sounds so great. Everyone agrees with it, because we all have the law written in our hearts. Every single person knows we are required to love God and our neighbor.

But what a big difference between knowing what to do, knowing what should be done, and actually doing it.

And this is where many make a really big mistake – by teaching that the great moral of the story today is, be a better neighbor. Be like the Good Samaritan, as if, that’s the complete message. But if we look close, at every turn, everything indicates this is much more than that. And critics will say, look, Jesus says, Go and do thou likewise. It’s true. But didn’t Jesus also say, “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” And doesn’t that also imply, that with Jesus, we can do everything? “I can do all things, through Christ, who strengthens me.” Christ is key.

We notice the odd way that the man asks his question. Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? But since when does receiving an inheritance involve doing anything? An inheritance is a gift. No work required. It’s simply given and received, upon someone’s death. Right away this is an indication that the well-versed lawyer is not asking an innocent question – he was trying to trap Jesus. It is important to note that Jesus is dealing with a hypocrite, and of course, Jesus is trying to help him.

The lawyer had the love-commandment memorized by heart. And that’s not a bad thing. But did he actually fulfill it? “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.”

Jesus responds, “Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live.” Jesus doesn’t say, This you have done, and you will live. He says, this do, clearly implying that this man had not yet done it.

All our thoughts, all our words, all our actions, with every ounce of strength that we have, must only be pure love. Reality is that we can’t go one second without somehow, in some way putting love and concern for ourselves….. first and foremost.

And here’s the real kicker – it’s as though the lawyer does realize that he is still lacking – but that old human nature kicks in. Well, who is my neighbor really? Come on, surely not everyone is my neighbor?

The parable of the Good Samaritan is clear – there isn’t a single person on earth, who doesn’t fit Christ’s description of “neighbor”. There is not a single person we are not required to love and forgive.

All the world needs is more love, more compassion, more gentleness. Funny how everyone agrees with this, and yet, when it comes to that one person who really mistreated me, or that one person who is just so different from me, in religious and political views – “Ccome on, who is my neighbor, really? Those people in the middle east are my neighbor? Come on!”

What words of love, great, powerful love are mentioned in the way the Samaritan helps not a friend, but an enemy. He doesn’t only bind up his wounds, he pours oil and wine on them, to disinfect, and to soothe away the pain. He puts him on his own animal, he brings him to a hotel - and here’s the really good part – he “takes care of him.” He took care of him. There isn’t a single thing he won’t do to take care of him. Whatever he needs, he provides.

It doesn’t end there, he takes out the equivalent of 2 days wages, and gives it to the inn keeper, “and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Whatever he needs, he will pay for it.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Shouldn’t it? He binds his wounds. He puts on them oil and wine. The man is so helpless he can’t even walk, but his helper shows him the way. Whatever the man needs, he provides.

Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives… to set at liberty them that are bruised.”

There is no denying that Jesus is the Good Samaritan. We look at the condition in which He finds the man – half dead – completely helpless. We are completely helpless, by our own strength, against the power of the devil, sin, our own flesh – But….. Christ fights for us. He overcomes.

And get this…Jesus doesn’t leave us without hope, as if such great love will never be a part of our lives. He fulfills the requirement for us. He sheds His blood, not for His friends, for His enemies. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” And He lived the life of perfect love for us. He gives us His love, that we may live it, and live for Him, and not for ourselves, glorifying Him, and not ourselves.

And none of this is in vain, as if the moment we fail to love, God is through with us. “Away, depart from me!” Is that really how it is? After He gave His life for us?

All the world needs is more love, which really means, all the world needs is Christ’s love. Without Him, we can do nothing, but with Him in our hearts, in our minds, we are His instruments, as His Spirit works in us. Yes we still fail – but He continues to forgive, and forgive, and He gives us the strength to love more, to forgive more, to try harder. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

In His death and resurrection there is new life and new strength and hope for us to overcome anger and every other sin – to love more, to forgive more.

Most of all, He has accomplished all things needful for us to be saved. He will continue to help us with our every other problem as well. He will help us to love and forgive more. In Christ’s name. Amen.