Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church

2022 Sermon for Trinity 13

The Way of Life

Luke 10:23-37

September 11, 2022 anno Domini

There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. That is the first sentence of the oldest Catechism known among Christians. It is called the Didache, which simply means “teaching.”

Today’s Gospel shows those two ways very clearly. The way of death and the way of life. The way of death is the way of the Priest and Levite. The way of life is the way of the Samaritan.

The story of the Good Samaritan is told in answer to a life and death question. (read vs. 25). Jesus answers the question with a question, like a good teacher will do to that student who just wants to show off. “What is written in the Law?” Now the lawyer can shine. Jesus has opened the door to let the man reveal his wisdom. It’s like asking a fisherman about his last fishing trip or asking an electrician about wiring. He’s going to tell you more than you want to know, about how good, right, and salutary he is.

The lawyer summed up the Law exactly. Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. You remember that Didache thing I mentioned before – let me read the second sentence of that catechism. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.

The lawyer nailed it. It’s almost as if the writers of the Didache used this story to begin their catechism. The way of life is love God and love others. You have Jesus’ word on it. Do this and you will live. But now the good lawyer was indicted. He was convicted by God’s own Word and his lack of love. Never try to argue with Jesus. You will lose. Never try to best God’s Word with your own knowledge. Just keep your mouth shut. If you ever need a lawyer or have had a lawyer, they likely will tell you, “Don’t say anything until I get there.” Why? Because you will reveal your guilt.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live. So says Jesus. So what does that mean? Are you on the way to death or the way to life? Are you living for yourself or loving God by loving your needy neighbor? 

Today is Rally Day. We begin anew another year of Christian Education at Redeemer. Are you reading more trashy novels than books of the Bible? Is your life driven more by Fox News or the Good News of Jesus?  Are you in Bible Study or do you need to get your shopping done or get in line for the mega brunch at Granite City?

What do you think of your neighbors? For Dr. Luther that word neighbor began with those nearest to you. Not the guy begging for your change over by Taco Bell. Of that guy Luther said. If a man is able to work but does not work, let him starve to death. Your neighbor is your wife if you are a husband. Your husband if you are a wife. Your parents if you are a child. God does not need your work and sacrifice and obedience – your neighbor does. Your wife needs to be loved like Christ loved you. Your husband needs to be obeyed like the church obeys Christ. Husbands and wives should have children, if they can, lots of children, because that’s why God made marriage for the man and the woman – for multiplication of the two into four or eight or twelve. Love is painful.  Husbands, it’s going to hurt to love your bride like Christ. Parents, it’s going to cost you to have children. You might lose your date night, have to delay retirement until you’re 70, forego the big house, the new car, and the lake cabin.

Now the lawyer knew the Law but did not keep the Law. He didn’t love his wife like he loved himself especially when he went to Scheels or Fleet Farm. He didn’t love his children at the end of long day down at the Synagogue. Instead of teaching them to pray He loved watching the Twins blow their division lead. So trying to justify himself he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

It is then that Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. Ten minutes into the sermon and pastor finally gets to the heart of the text. Vicar, do not follow my example.  A man is going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Now Jerusalem was God’s city. The Temple was there. The priesthood was there. The sacrifices and blood which atoned for the sin of the world were there. But this man was leaving Jerusalem and heading down to Jericho.

You probably remember that Jericho was the first city conquered in the promised land. Joshua led the Israelites around it for seven days, then on the seventh day seven times, then God’s people blew their trumpets, and the walls came down. Jericho was taken. You might not remember that God cursed the city and cursed anyone who rebuilt it. The man in this story was leaving God’s city for a cursed place, and surprise, he ran into trouble. He was beaten up, robbed, and left for dead.

That is what sin will do to you. Any time you leave the righteous path God sets before you in the commandments you are going to get beaten up, robbed, and left for dead. And, by your sin, you do your own fair share of beating up, robbing, and murdering your neighbor.

The first two guys along the road are spiritual guys – a Priest and a Levite. Jesus tells us they are also going down – likely leaving Jerusalem and heading to Jericho. Should it surprise us that someone who is leaving God will also leave their needy neighbor?

The Samaritan was not going down. Jesus says, “He was journeying.” I like to think he was going up to Jerusalem, because he did not live for himself. He sacrificed. He delayed his own trip. Pulled over on his donkey, broke out his first aid kit from AAA, and poured oil and wine on the man’s wounds. Then he lifted the man onto his own donkey, walked alongside, to an Inn. Who knows maybe it was in the little town of Bethlehem. And this time there was a room and the Samaritan handed over his platinum Visa, and promised to return in three days to fully pay that man’s bill.

The Good Samaritan is Jesus. He does not live for Himself. He goes out of His way – coming all the way down to earth for us and our salvation. His whole life was a life of going up to Jerusalem, and along the way He went out of the way – to give sight to the blind, to make the lame walk, to heal the leaper, and to raise the dead. His love cost Him. It cost His life. The last time He went up to Jerusalem, He rode on the donkey and there He was in your place. He took the place of the beaten and battered sinner. He left Jerusalem on Good Friday to go down to the cursed place you deserved – hell. He suffered it for you. He was not half dead, but all the way dead – crucified, dead, and buried.

But like the Samaritan He returned in three days, because the cost had been paid. All your sin, everything that has beaten you up and robbed you of life, has been forgiven. The dirt of your soiled conscience is washed clean in baptism. Your weakness and faltering steps of faith are strengthened by the bread and wine of His supper, His body and blood. Every week in the proper preface we proclaim this meal is for the restoration of our health – when we confess “it is good, right, and salutary – salutary means healthy. It is the Lord’s salve on our wounds.

We do not walk the way of life to achieve life. We walk the way of life because we have life. We walk the way of life because we are alive in Christ. We walk the way of love because we are Christian. Salvation is not earned by your love, but by Christ. You don’t have it in you to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself, but Christ does. And in baptism, through faith, He puts in you what He has – a human heart that loves God. Now you walk by the spirit, walking up to Jerusalem, aiming for heaven, loving, giving, and sacrificing for your neighbor – your family by flesh and your family by faith. We walk the way of life because we are alive in the name of Jesus. Amen.