The parable of the Good Samaritan is a story that is easy to remember. It is so popular that hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities often have the name Good Samaritan. Joanne, you chose this reading for today because his willingness to lend a hand was one of the many good memories you have of Ed. I am certain that you missed his helping hand when the cancer began to take its toll. I am certain that you will continue to miss his help now that he is home with the Lord.
Most of us know the story of the Good Samaritan. A gang of thugs mugs a traveling merchant. They steal all his stuff and leave him to die along the side of the road. Two members of the temple elite, a priest and a Levite, see his distress, but offer no help. The next traveler is our merchant's sworn enemy, a Samaritan. Instead of rejoicing at the merchant's misfortune, the Samaritan actually renders aid and arranges to have people care for our poor merchant until he recovers.
When Jesus told the lawyer and the others who listened, "You go, and do likewise," He was certainly telling us that the Good Samaritan was the example that we should follow. When we lend a hand to others in need we certainly follow that example.
Now … as much as we would like to follow the example of the Good Samaritan all the time, that is not possible. There are times that we take on the roll of the other characters in the story. Take the merchant who was mugged for example. There are times when all of us are helpless and need others to come to our aid. Life can throw all kinds of hardships at us. We can struggle with our relationships, our health, our finances, and so forth. There are times that each and every one of us needs a Good Samaritan to come rescue us. As helpful as Ed was, there were times when he himself needed the help of a Good Samaritan.
Then there is that time when only one Good Samaritan will do. Ultimately, we, like Ed, must all face the last hardship, death. It is at that last hardship that we, like Ed, all need the ultimate Good Samaritan. We need someone who can be with us even as we enter death's door - even as we travel through death into the next life. There is only one Good Samaritan who can help us then. That Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ.
It is at this time of year that we celebrate the beginning of the work that Jesus did to become the ultimate Good Samaritan. At this time of year, we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the Son of God coming into this world and taking on human flesh and blood.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on human nature so that He could live the human experience. He grew up like any boy. He became a man. He lived a complete human life and then He experienced a human death. Jesus not only experienced physical death, but He also experienced eternal death, eternal punishment. He experienced that death so that we don't have to. By living a human life and dying a human death, He took our place. He rescued us from sin, death, and the power of the devil with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. Then, because He was sinless, death could not hold Him and He rose from the dead. With His death and resurrection He became the ultimate Good Samaritan.
Jesus has blazed a trail that leads through death to eternal life. When God's people die, His angels carry them through death, not to eternal punishment, but to eternal life. As the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write, "I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Ed belonged to the Lord. God's angels came and carried Ed's soul to Jesus' side. Ed is in the eternal joy of God's presence.
The day will come when God will take all His children home to be with Him. In the mean time, we wait. We can be happy for Ed on this day. He is free from all sickness and pain. He is healthy. Just as the poor beat up merchant was able to rest at the inn, so Ed is at rest. Ed is now truly free from all the difficulties that sin brings into our lives.
On the other hand, we are still here. A dear one has been taken from us. Just as Jesus Himself wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, so we too can weep. We will miss Ed. It is honest to mourn, but we do not mourn as those that have no hope. We know that Jesus did not die in vain, but that He rose from the dead. Through that death and resurrection, we know that Jesus will bring us to Himself in the end. Those who believe in Jesus Christ mourn this day, but we also have the comfort of knowing that we shall see Ed again.
We, together with all believers look forward to the resurrection of the body. On the Last Day our Lord Jesus will return and raise all the dead and will give eternal life to all who believe in Him. That means that we along with all believers look forward to the time when we shall join Ed and all our loved ones in heaven. There we shall have a grand reunion around the throne of God.
The Bible says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved …" The Holy Spirit wants to feed your soul so that you will believe this very thing. With faith in Jesus Christ your separation from Ed and your other loved ones will not last. One day the trumpet will sound. The dead will rise. And we will all be joined in Christ forever more. There to be joined with our loved ones, never to be separated again. Amen
Please quote from my sermons freely. I expect people to copy my sermons or I wouldn't put them on a site like this. I only ask that you quote accurately if you attribute anything to me.
Should you decide to contact me, I would be very interested in knowing where you are. Please include the name of your city, state or province, and country when contacting me.
Send James T. Batchelor an email.