Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our parable for today concludes with a question in response to a question. "And who is my neighbor?" someone asked Jesus. After the account of the good Samaritan, Jesus asked, "Who, then, of these three do you think was the neighbor of the one who fell into the hands of thieves?" And he said: He who showed mercy to him. Then Jesus said to him: Go, and do the same." Well, we could understand this parable as a model of our behavior. However, it is much more.
It all started with another question. “And behold, a doctor of the law stood up and said, to test Him: Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And He said to him: What is written in the law? How do you read? And he answering said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. And he said: You have answered well; do this, and you will live. "
We repeat these words every Sunday about the need for love of God and our neighbor as well. Because in other New Testament verses, our Lord teaches this is the summary of God's Law. And not only our Lord, also Moses says in the book of Deuteronomy that we should love God with all our heart, our soul, our strength and mind. In Leviticus, Moses says you should love your neighbor as yourself.
This is the Law, God's will for us. The love of neighbor follows from the love of God. It is very simple. But, no one can fulfill this Law. Therefore, every Sunday we confess that we have not loved God as He deserves, nor our neighbor as ourselves.
Therefore, my question for you is who is the good Samaritan? If none of us can love God or our neighbor as we should, is the good Samaritan a model for us or something else?
St. Paul says this in our epistle (Galatians 3: 16-22), “And this I say: The covenant previously confirmed by God in Christ, the law that came four hundred and thirty years later, does not annul it, to invalidate the promise. For if the inheritance was by the law, it would no longer be by the promise: But God gave it to Abraham by the promise.” God made a covenant with Abraham before the Law of Moses. The basis of this covenant was not Abraham's good works, but his faith in God's promise. This promise is Abraham's inheritance. This promise does not deny the Law, but from it comes eternal life, not from the Law.
The doctor of the Law did not understand this when he asked Jesus, what must I do to inherit eternal life? We cannot do anything, but God in Christ has done everything for us.
This is the point of the parable. You and I are not the good Samaritan. We are the all but dead man on the road. That man could do nothing to save himself. Salvation came in the figure of the Samaritan.
The Samaritans were foreigners in the land of Israel, a mixture of the blood of the Jews and other ethnicities. In our reading of the Old Testament (Zechariah 7: 4-10), the Lord commanded mercy even to foreigners in Israel. But, for centuries there was enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans, because when the Jews returned to captivity in Babylon to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, the Samaritans attacked them.
But, at that time, enmity did not matter. The Jewish man was helped by the hands of someone he had not approved, not the priest and the Levite, the representatives of the covenant with Moses.
Understand that the Pharisees denounced Jesus as a Samaritan (John 8:48). It seems that there was gossip about the fatherhood of Jesus, who really was not the son of Joseph the carpenter, but the Son of God. The Pharisees did not want to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, so they repeated the gossip. In addition, although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, He grew up in Nazareth, far from Jerusalem. As Nathanael, one of his disciples, said, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46) But, when the man was almost dead, his salvation did not come from whom he had chosen, but from him that God had chosen.
God himself saw our state. We are not almost dead, but completely dead in our sins. God sent us Jesus as our Savior, not by our merits, but by grace, by the mercy of God.
"But a Samaritan, who was on his way, came to where he was, and when he saw him, had compassion on him; and approaching, he bound his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and putting him on his horse, he took him to the inn and took care of him. And the next day when he left, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper, and said: Take care of him, and all that you spend, when I return I will pay you.” The Samaritan paid everything to restore the life of the unfortunate man. Therefore, the Samaritan is a figure of Christ. Jesus Christ has paid the entire price of our sins. He, the Savior that the Jews did not anticipate, a strange Savior, has done everything for us.
Only the mercy that God has shown us in Jesus Christ changes the hearts of men. Outward obedience to the Law does not change the heart. Therefore, the priest and the Levite passed by. In their hearts, fear and sin were found. But, with the recognition that we are all sinners and that Jesus died for all, there is the possibility of friendship even between Jews and Samaritans, enemies for centuries.
The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to the love and grace of God. Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit. By this faith we understand that we have everything by the grace of God, so we can love God and our neighbor in truth. Not to gain eternal life for ourselves, because we have that in the promise in Christ. The Spirit begot true love in our hearts and in this we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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