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Love without limits

Luke 10:23-37

Pastor David Ernst

13th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Aug 21, 2016 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

One question: What is love? Many people think of love as a feeling between a man and a woman. I'm in love with him. I'm in love with her. We also believe that there is love between parents and children, and other family members.

Our text for today speaks of love. "And behold, a doctor of the law stood up, tempting him and saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And he said: What is written in the law? How do you read? And he answering said, 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 your neighbor as yourself. And he said to him: You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live "

The text speaks of love as the law of God. We find the same words in other parts of Scripture, in the other Gospels and in the Old Testament as well.  The first time the words appear, "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" is in Deuteronomy, and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” in Leviticus, both books of the Law of Moses. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that the summary of the Law is love for God and neighbor.

We often think of the law as rules or commandments, specifically the 10 Commandments, which we obey to avoid punishment. However, the purpose of the commandments is to show our love for God and for our neighbor. In catechism class, we discuss the two tablets of the Law. At Mount Sinai God wrote the Law on two tablets of stone. We do not know precisely which commandments were written on each tablet, but it is useful to think of the first tablet as the first three commandments which deal with our relationship with God. The second tablet is the others which deal with our relationships with neighbors.

Now, well, compliance with the law, the will of God for all, is to love God and love our neighbor. This love is not just feelings but is expressed in actions. The commandment, "Do not kill" means not only do not take a knife or gun to kill someone, but care for others in all their needs, material and spiritual.

Very good. The problem is no one can fulfill this law perfectly because of our rebellious and sinful nature. We are selfish. The Law is the holy will of God. Paul says in our epistle (Galatians 3: 16-22): "Is the law then against the promises of God? In no way: because if the law given that could impart life, then righteousness would indeed be by law.” But we can not fulfill the law of love, so, the law does not save us, but condemns us.

Therefore, we started each service by listening to these words, "Jesus commanded us,Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself”. Then we confess our sins with these words: “We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved you with all my heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. "

The 10 Commandments are our guide to show love for God and our neighbors. But our tendency is to love ourselves first and perhaps those who treat us well. We normally like to think there is love between parents and children and siblings in the family; but, in truth, not all love their family. By nature, we seek reward for our love.

In our text, the doctor of the law asked Jesus about the limits of love. "But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?" The Lord told this story: "A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him, beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And there came down a certain priest that way: and seeing him, passed to one side. And likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on one side. But a certain Samaritan who journeyed, came near him, and seeing him, was moved with compassion; And he went to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and set him on his own beast, brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again I will repay thee. Who, then, of these three do you think was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? "

The priest and the Levite were good and pious men in the eyes of the community. But when away from the eyes of men, when they were afraid of thieves, passed by on one side and did not help the man. They had no true love and no true faith, because they believed that God paid no attention to their actions. But a Samaritan showed true love and reverence for God because he helped the man. For centuries, the Samaritans were enemies of the Jews, but no matter, for the love of God he helped him.

We must learn from the example of the Good Samaritan that love of neighbor is not limited to our nation, or our family, but our neighbor is anyone needs help. Because God loved us in this way. By nature, we are rebels and enemies of God, but God had mercy on our affliction, our lack of hope, and sent his Son to die on the cross for us, and earn the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. He did not seek to reward, because he died for all, whether they believe or not believe. Those who believe the promise made with the help of the Holy Spirit, show the same love to others. In this love we have peace that passeth understanding. Amen.

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