Who is Jesus and Who Are We?
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
When we hear of Jesus' story today, we ask ourselves two questions. Who is Jesus and who am I in the parable?
A Samaritan man, as he journeyed from Jerusalem to Jericho, came upon a man who was robbed and left half dead, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. This helpless, unknown, nameless man got the attention of the Samaritan man. He bound the wounds of the man with wine and oil. He put the half dead man on His donkey while he walks along. He took Him to an inn where he could recover and paid for everything. He even promised to the inn keeper that he will come back and if there is more to pay he will pay him back. This Samaritan man wanted to revive the half dead man to life.
Who is this Good Samaritan man? The Good Samaritan in our parable this morning is Jesus. Out of His great mercy, He gave everything He has to save the half-dead man.
Only one can rescue the half dead man. He was the third one coming down the road. He didn't pass by on the other side or ignored the dying man. When He saw the stripped, robbed half dead man lying in the canal, He had mercy on him and came to rescue him. Being God, He left His home in heaven and traveled right to where the man was lying, by becoming a true man here on earth. He bent down humbling Himself to give the needed help to the man. He put Himself in on the man's shoes. He made the man's problems His own.
So who are we? Are we the priest or the Levite? Or, are we the half-dead man whom the Good Samaritan saved?
We were the ones who went down to Jerusalem from Jericho. We were the ones dumped along the side of the dirty road. For we have fallen into the hands of thieves who is Satan and sin. They have stripped us of our clothing, robbed us of the image of God in which we were created. And they have beaten us down, leaving us half dead, that is, physically alive but spiritually dead. The priest and the Levite, who were the two figures of the Law, offered no help, which we expected them to do. For the Law cannot rescue us, as it is written, "By the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified" (Romans 3:20).
Now we realize who we are in the parable. We are the stripped, beaten, robbed man who is as good as dead. We cannot love God with all our hearts and minds and strength because we're dead. We cannot love our neighbors as ourselves because we're dead. But, it is the dead man who is saved. We were redeemed by the Good Samaritan Jesus Christ.
Though our sins were fully forgiven by the Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ, the wounds of sin are not fully healed. The Church is the Inn, the hospital where our wounds are being cleansed by the Great Physician. Jesus provided the innkeeper with two denarii, that we might receive double mercy, overflowing compassion. He promises to pay whatever it takes to restore us. In fact He has already paid the full price, atoned for our transgressions by His sacrifice on the cross. He is the one who promised to return saying, I will go and prepare a place for you, and I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.
Christ the true Good Samaritan is our neighbor. Christ lives in us and through us by faith to love our neighbor. He frees us to "go and do likewise"-not because we have to in order to be saved, but because our neighbor needs us. Since Christ became weak for us and bore all our infirmities and sorrows, we learn to see Him in those who are weak and suffering. And we show love for Him by loving others.
What must I do to inherit eternal life was the other question of the lawyer to Jesus. With this question, Jesus said to the lawyer, "You are deceiving yourself by relying on your own keeping of the Law. If you continue on this way, you will not receive eternal life. Get rid of all your self-reliance; repent and seek help and eternal life outside of yourself and your works. Trust in Me. I am your only help."
In a way, Jesus is saying to us this morning that there's nothing we can do to inherit eternal life. You're dead. You're dead in your sins and cannot help yourself. But I have come to you and I am filled with compassion for you and I have saved you. You are my neighbor and I love you as myself. My Father has written your name into His will and testament that you are His child. Through me, you have eternal life. You have nothing to do to inherit eternal life but receive. You were born of God, children of your Father in heaven.
So we are freed from the judgment of the Law to "go and do likewise." Go in the freedom of Christ's full forgiveness, knowing that we have nothing to lose. Eternal life is ours. Go as a member of Christ's body to be the Good Samaritan for others, not as an obligation but as a privilege, not because the Law compels us, but because our neighbor needs us. Do it not to inherit eternal life; do it because eternal life is already ours, won by the death of Jesus, delivered at our Baptism, and sealed by His blood at Calvary. The inheritance of eternal life is ours, a gift from Jesus to us.
In a way, we are good Samaritans. We support Danmission's Church Development and Poverty Reduction programs which are making big difference in the lives of half dead men on the way. In particular there are people in Preah Sdach, Cambodia who have benefited from your continuous supports through Danmission. Their livelihood and life situation have improved. There are also those who have come to believe in God through the teaching and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But still there are millions of half dead men on the way who are in need of good Samaritans. They need us.
Our parable this morning about the encounter between Jesus and the lawyer is unfinished. Jesus did not tell us what happened to the half dead man after he was physically saved by the Samaritan. Luke also did not tell us what happened to the lawyer. Was there a happy ending or was there a sad ending. However this is what we knew it went. Crucify Him, crucify Him, they cried. And by His death, we are justified and by His death we inherit eternal life. Amen.