Dear Baptized of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. May the words of Christ today be for your comfort and assurance, and for the increase of your faith. May the Love of Christ continue to change our hearts, for He died that we might live, and not live for ourselves, but that we might show His love, in word and in deed, and that we might comfort one another with His Words, as His Spirit works through the Word.
Perhaps we remember in the news, about a year ago, a man lay injured and helpless on a sidewalk, after being attacked. Completely unable to get up on his own, videotape showed clearly people just walking right on by. Their behavior was exactly like that of the Priest and the Levite in today’s lesson: they just walked right on by, when a man clearly needed their help. Is that true love? Can’t we just hear the excuses: “Well I didn’t see him. I didn’t know the man. I didn’t know for sure what to do. I thought I might get myself into trouble.” But one question would silence all the excuses: Is that how we would want to be treated? “Thou shalt love…thy neighbour as thyself.”
And the 5 th Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill. What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.”
And on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, He said, “Love one another; as I have loved you...By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Yet still, is this truly the only scenario Jesus wants us to focus on, a man lying helpless on the ground? As if there are no other scenarios? Most of us may never encounter such a scenario in our lifetime. Yet, it so clearly applies to every single day of our life.
Even if we think we have it all together, like the Levite and the Priest, both of whom served the Lord, and said all the right prayers, and went through all the right ceremonies – yet they so clearly failed to love. There are countless situtations where it is so tempting for us too, to just walk right on by.
Do I say something or not? Fathers, mothers, you are constantly faced with this: Do I say something or not? If I lay down the law too much, I’ll drive my child away. If I don’t lay it down enough, my child will be lawless, disobedient, without the fear and love of God in the heart. Do I say something or not?
Obviously if we never do, then we are just walking right on by on the other side of the road.
When we know someone is living in unbelief, and if we never say anything about the Savior who came to free us from the power of sin, aren’t we just walking right on by? If we see anyone in need, and don’t go out of our way to help, are we not we just walking right on by?
Let our response not be that of the self-righteous lawyer, asking who his neighbor was. Really? As if God only commanded us to love some, and not others? By Grace, let our response be that of the publican in the temple, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Daily we walk right on by. It’s so easy to do nothing, or to say nothing, when we know we should.
Yet, Jesus came to die for that sin too, and to rise again, that we might be raised from the power of sin, and be granted the gift of His Spirit, and a heart full of true faith and true love. “Create in me a clean heart O God.” And that’s exactly what He did in our Baptism, washing our sin away, and giving us a brand new heart full of new desires to love and forgive, to show compassion. As He says, “Behold I make all things new.”
Jesus consistently taught that love is not just something shown to those who love us back. Yet, today, it’s all about getting revenge. “Although we’re supposed to say a man is innocent until proven guilty, let’s go ahead and assume the policeman in Missouri is guilty, and let’s get revenge on our enemies.”
Yet, Jesus went to the cross for His enemies. And He said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The soldiers did not know they had crucified God’s only-begotten Son. And many today too, do not fully understand the dishonor they are showing God’s only-begotten Son, by seeking revenge. Yet He said, “Father forgive them.” He has more forgiveness than the whole world has sin.
His love has the power to change the world, if only the world would listen to Him. His words regarding revenge are clear. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Imagine if everyone did that. Imagine how different the world would be.
Of all people, our enemies need our forgiveness. Were we put here on this earth to love ourselves, or to love only those who love us back?, or, were we put here because our every neighbor needs the love and forgiveness that begins with Christ alone?
Who is the Good Samaritan? The wisdom of the world immediately answers, of course, it’s all the good people in the world. But there’s a problem with that idea. Scripture says, “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
The world sees only the earthly meaning of Christ’s parable. But there’s so much more. And so Jesus says, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see…” and “blessed are your ears, for they hear.”
Children of God, it is by God’s Grace, that you know Christ is the only truly Good man, and that He lived that Good, perfect life for you.
He says clearly, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” So it isn’t about us finding the strength within ourselves to love with that true unselfish love.
Yet, Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Christ is key. In His death and resurrection there is new life, new strength, and new hope for us to overcome anger and every other sin. He came to give us freedom from every sin. He died to pay for them all. He rose from the dead and promises we too will rise. His resurrection proves that the Father accepted His sacrifice for all sin.
How can there not be true love in the heart in which Jesus Christ is born? And He continues to be born in you and me by the power of His Word and Sacraments. His Spirit works through such means of His grace, the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper.
As the only true, perfect Good Samaritan, Christ continues to bind up our wounds, to forgive our sins, and to heal the trouble and the hurt we cause ourselves by our sins. He pours the oil of His forgiving grace on our wounds. He binds the brokenhearted, as He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows. He takes care of us by the means of His grace.
And He puts that true love in our heart, that which comes from Jesus Christ alone.
True love is not a feeling that come and goes. True love is not something we do to get something in return. True love begins with Jesus Christ alone. True love is Christ going to the cross for the whole world, putting everything on the line for those who did not deserve it.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
And so, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see…” and “blessed are your ears, for they hear.”