Theme: The Good Samaritan
Text: Luke 10:25–37
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
1. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verses 25 to 37 serves as our sermon
text for this morning, which reads as follows:
(25) And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying,
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
(26) He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
(27) And he answered, “You shall 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.”
(28) And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you
(29) But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my
(30) Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and
he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving
him half dead.
(31) Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him
he passed by on the other side.
(32) So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed
by on the other side.
(33) But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he
saw him, he had compassion.
(34) He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then
he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
(35) And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the
innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will
repay you when I come back.’
(36) Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the
man who fell among the robbers?”
(37) He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You
go, and do likewise.”
1. This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
1. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our heavenly Father and from our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
1. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
852 O God of Mercy, God of Might
O God of mercy, God of might,
In love and pity infinite,
Teach us, as ever in Thy sight,
To live our lives in Thee.
Teach us the lesson Thou hast taught:
To feel for those Thy blood hath bought,
That ev’ry word and deed and thought
May work a work for Thee.
1. In an illustration titled “EVER BEEN BOTHERED BY PEOPLE?”, Pastor
John Hermann writes:
1. Sometimes church and worship can keep us from the living water people
need and that we need.
1. People can actually hide behind church, the machinery of church
1. Recently I attended a Wednesday Lenten service with my wife in my
1. A stranger – a shabby and homeless man, walked in from the cold
and driving rain, smelling of feces and urine, but not alcohol,
and took a
seat way, way in the back.
2. I found it most annoying.
3. The smell drifted a third of a way into the large sanctuary.
4. Meanwhile the service just went on as usual; formal, classically
difficult Lenten Lutheran hymns, readings back and forth and so on.
5. The usual “let’s shorten this up a bit” kind of service.
6. Not wanting to visit much after the service, since we’d been
earlier to the soup supper, my wife and I left right away at the end.
7. But I couldn’t get the homeless man out of my mind.
1. Arriving home, I called the usher and asked what happened to the man,
but it went into voice mail.
1. An hour later, not because I was the pastor there, but because I
was compulsive, I returned to the church with some of the left over soup
I’d earlier made, wondering if the man might still be there somehow.
2. Sure enough, there he was, sleeping in his sleeping bag on the
concrete walkway right next to the side door we’d left from.
3. He smiled as I offered him the soup, though he’d been earlier
given a cup by the ushers, along with an umbrella when he was
4. I asked if there were anything else.
5. He said something about needing some gloves and some socks.
6. I drove the two miles home in the dark returning with those, as
well as a banana and a breakfast bar and a long piece of foam I
around for him to sleep on.
7. Keep it, I said.
1. No, he shouldn’t have been there, but what are you going to do?
1. I found out the next morning, the church administrator had called
the sheriff to have him removed since the church had their Christian
elementary and pre-school right there on campus, and “you just can’t have
these kind of people around.”
2. He’d gone to church to hear the Gospel, even if it was just to get
out of the weather, and now he got the Law.
3. I immediately felt guilty I hadn’t spared the secretary, the cops,
and the man himself the trouble by not arriving an hour earlier before
anyone got there and take him to a shelter a dozen miles away,
in spite of
4. I sort of felt like the Good Samaritan who didn’t quite finish the
5. At the same time, I felt annoyed there were people like this guy
in this world disturbing my own comfortable world and my time in God’s
6. Part of me wished I’d not even gone to church that night and I
wouldn’t have had to deal with my obsessive-compulsive side and
to have so
much to think about and bother with.
1. But aren’t we supposed to be “bothered” with people?
1. Isn’t that in the end what church and worship is?
2. Should we be surprised if God sometimes upsets the little patterns
we fall into — even that pattern of church as we know it?
3. Isn’t it about the living water that we and a tired and thirsty
4. Isn’t it that as Jesus was “bothered” about this woman and
“bothered” to visit with her, so he bothered to come to this earth as a
human being, for the moment, letting go of his divine position in the
universe, and join us, offering us through his life, death and
true soul refreshment?
1. (Oops) Yes, I do try to justify myself.
1. Ah, the stunts lawyers pull!
1. Right out of the gate, he’s sinning.
2. Jesus told Satan in the wilderness, “Don’t put God to the test.”
3. And even though the lawyer didn’t know he was talking to God in
person, the Second Person of the Trinity to be exact, he was
God to the test by looking for a loophole in the Law.
1. Jesus asked: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (verse
1. If you always love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your
neighbor as yourself, you will live.
2. “And [Jesus] said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this,
and you will live’ ” (verse 28).
3. It’s all true.
4. The Law promises eternal life.
5. All you have to do is keep it.
6. Jesus held that mirror up to the lawyer.
7. The lawyer should have looked in that mirror long and hard.
1. But he didn’t want to look in that mirror, not really.
1. He didn’t want to ask:
1. How could he be loving the Lord with all of his heart and not
know in his heart he whom he was testing?
2. How could an expert in the Law love God with all his soul and
think that there was anything he could do to inherit eternal life?
3. How could he love the Lord with all his strength and resist the
Lord with all his strength at the same time?
4. How could he be loving God with all his mind and play mind
games with God’s commands?
2. How could he quote Deuteronomy 6:5 in order to test God and ignore
Deuteronomy 6:16, which says “Don’t test God,” at the same time?
1. Some test God by teaching “self-esteem” from “love your neighbor as
1. They say: “You can’t love anyone else unless you first love
2. Talk about mind games.
3. Too bad the word love before yourself is not an imperative.
4. Jesus means to love others as if they were your dearest love,
5. Make believe your neighbor is you, then do your magic.
6. But people were looking for a proof text to justify their
self-centered existence and self-centered theology.
7. Yes, I do that.
8. You do that as well.
2. (Ugh) We’re all lawyers in that sense—and the Law shames our hollow
attempts to justify ourselves.
1. Just like this lawyer: “But he, desiring to justify himself . . .”
1. He’s a lawyer in the infamous sense of the word, too.
2. This conversation should have ended when Jesus said, “Do this, and
you will live,” but the lawyer wants a continuance.
3. He was hunting for a proof text.
4. He wanted just enough of God’s Law to justify his conduct.
5. We’re all lawyers in that sense.
1. Except that as Lutherans we don’t generally pull stunts with the Law.
1. We fear God’s Law because we’ve been taught that we can’t keep it.
2. So we awkwardly walk right past Mount Sinai and let the Law
3. We save our stunts for Mount Calvary, where there is only welcome
and no thunder, at least none aimed at us.
4. We wait for the Tender Mystery Crucified to unfold like a flower
in front of our eyes.
5. Then we say:
1. “I won’t be in church, because that would take all my strength,
and am I not saved by grace alone?
2. I won’t learn your Word, because that would take all my mind,
and don’t I live by faith alone?”
6. And we actually use the Gospel to justify our stone-cold hearts.
7. We lawyers got Jesus on a technicality.
8. Or so we think.
1. This lawyer thought he’d try his luck with the Law, so he said to
Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (verse 29b).
1. He was looking for a proof text to justify his definition of
2. What was that?
3. Well, has anyone here ever planned a wedding?
4. No doubt you’ve learned, maybe the hard way, that when you send
out invitations, no matter what size the party, you have to tear paper
towels on the lines.
5. You can’t invite some close friends and not others, some immediate
family and not others, some extended relatives and not others, some
6. Unless you want to make a statement . . . and you’d better know
they’ll hear it!
7. You’d better know you can live with the consequences!
8. Well, for lawyers, for Pharisee types, every day was like planning
9. Think of a “who do I have to love” dartboard with a bull’s-eye,
the inner circle, and then another, and another, until the outer circles,
and the outcasts.
10. Anybody got darts they want to throw?
1. Now as you might have guessed, other lawyers were the bull’s-eye.
1. Then, working from the center outward, Pharisees, Levites, scribes
populated the next ring.
2. Just outside of them, of course, other Jews.
3. Next, Gentile God-fearers, like the Roman centurion who built them
4. Next, other Gentile undesirables, like you and me.
5. Then, further out, “tax collectors and sinners,” traitors and
prostitutes to be exact.
6. Still further, out on the edge, the lepers, and thank goodness for
plenty of stones to throw.
7. Finally, off the dartboard entirely, the complete outcasts: Jesus’
enemies said, “Are we not right in saying that you are a
Samaritan and have
a demon?” (John 8:48).
8. That was the worst insult they could come up with.
9. As the woman at the well said, the Jews had no dealings with
1. Think of today’s Israelis and Palestinians, and you get the picture.
1. The northern ten tribes went into exile by the Assyrians first,
and they intermarried with the foreigners the Assyrians shipped in and
repopulated the region of Samaria as half-Jews.
2. Therefore not real Jews.
3. So it had been a hate-fest for centuries, and Jesus knew it.
1. “Now, teacher, who do I have to love?”
1. Jesus could have said:
1. “You say you love the Lord and your neighbor as yourself, so have
you not read the next few verses of what you quoted?”
1. “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns [resides] with you as the
native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, you were strangers
[aliens] in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
1. But the lawyer didn’t lack information.
1. So Jesus engaged him and said:
1. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among
robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him
Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he
passed by on the other side” (verses 30–31).
1. He blew it off.
2. Didn’t want to get involved.
3. No reason except the obvious: he didn’t love his neighbor as
1. “Likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by
on the other side” (verse 32).
1. Now the punch line: Who will be the hero of the story?
1. The priest and the Levite came up empty.
2. Perhaps a “lawyer,” one of us?
3. Yeah, it has to be one of us.
1. “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was” (verse 33).
1. Is this a joke? Worse.
2. Jesus made him admit who the hero of the story was.
3. Can you see the lawyer boiling in his own jealous rage against an
4. Jesus leans into him:
1. “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to
the man who fell among the robbers?” (verse 36).
5. The lawyer couldn’t even say the word: “The Samaritan.”
6. He just said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
7. He has the answer to his question, “Who do I have to love?”
8. Of all people, the Samaritan.
9. When you ask your Lord, “Who do I have to love?” just begin with,
“Of all people,” and you’ll have your answer.
1. Jesus used the Law on this man with what we call the “second use.”
1. The lawyer’s cold, hollow theories of love were shamed by the
Samaritan’s real love.
2. There were no boundaries, no limits, but:
1. “he went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and
wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an
inn and took
care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii”—that’s
wages—“and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and
whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back’ ”
3. He didn’t “do his part.”
4. He did everything.
5. He wasn’t keeping commands; he was fulfilling the Law with love.
1. Real love forgets that the victim, a Jew, would rather die than
accept his, a Samaritan’s, help.
1. Real love forgets that he could get mugged and beaten too.
2. He forgets himself.
3. The Gospel says a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came upon him,
and—literally in the Greek—his heart broke.
4. The original Greek is esplagchnisthe.
5. It means his guts fell out, or, in more polite language: “his
heart broke:” . . . and that sounds awfully familiar.
6. St. Luke used it to describe Jesus when he saw the widow of Nain
burying her only-begotten son and to tell what happened to the
he saw the prodigal son coming home: his heart broke . . .
3. (Aha) But Jesus didn’t tell the story with the Samaritan as victim and
the lawyer walking by on the other side.
1. . . . the way Jesus’ heart broke over this lawyer.
1. When Jesus began the parable, you saw him holding a mirror up to the
lawyer’s face to reflect his own hypocrisy, but he could have made the
Samaritan the victim in the story and let the lawyer walk by on the other
1. That certainly would have accomplished that mirror of the second use
of the Law too.
1. But that’s not how Jesus told the story.
1. The Greek text suggests that “a certain lawyer stood up putting
him to the test,” and the story begins, “a certain man went down from
Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,” the lawyer wasn’t the hero
in the story; he was the victim!
2. And when the story ends, you see Jesus heartbroken and holding the
mirror to a certain lawyer’s mouth to see if he was even breathing.
3. The lawyer was beaten and left for dead.
1. Not by Jesus.
1. Robbers, thieves did that.
2. Thieves stole his soul and told him he could keep God’s Holy Law
with his sin nature.
3. But when his own sin beat down his strength, those thieves
wouldn’t lift a finger to help carry the load; they walked by on
4. Jesus’ parable showed the lawyer his own condition:
1. stripped of his pride,
2. sore with mortal wounds—heart, soul, strength, and mind
3. left for dead,
4. and desperately in need . . . of a neighbor.
4. (Wow) Jesus ignores that the lawyer, as the real victim, would rather
die than accept his help.
1. Jesus ignores that the lawyer would rather die than accept his help.
1. He ignores that he could get mugged and beaten too.
2. He forgets himself.
3. He set his face on a dangerous road.
4. Nobody on that road to Jerusalem came from his inner circle.
5. In the very center is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
6. And outside are nothing but thieves and outcasts!
7. No widening circles of family, friendship, and acquaintances.
1. “There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God” (Romans 3:22c–23),
2. “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3),
3. enemies of God who have tested him since Adam and Eve.
4. The only neighbors God had . . . were enemies.
1. But that didn’t stop Christ from being our neighbor.
1. God Loved His Outcast Neighbors by Becoming a Human Outcast.
1. When Jesus saw this lawyer mugged by a code of hypocrisy and his own
sin, he engaged him.
1. And the closer he got to Jerusalem, the closer a neighbor he
2. And when he reached his goal, to get mugged:
1. crucified and left dead
2. even a thief on a cross had a neighbor close by, a blood
3. Jesus Christ was willing to be an outcast from his own inner
1. forsaken by his Father,
2. handing over the Spirit,
3. in order to be our neighbor.
5. (Yeah) What must you do to inherit eternal life? Just inherit.
1. You must take charity from Christ.
1. You must let this Neighbor pay the price for the Law you couldn’t
2. This Neighbor will take care of everything.
1. Jesus tells the famous parable of the Good Samaritan to clarify that
He expects His followers to do good to ALL people.
1. However, His concluding exhortation, “Go and do likewise,” reminds
us just how far away we are from the loving, self-sacrificing
Lord expects of us.
2. So it was that Jesus became the Good Samaritan for us:
1. He laid down his life,
2. befriended us while we were yet His enemies.
3. He promises us full restoration and life everlasting.
1. What about “Go and do likewise”?
1. You’ll have your chance, once the oil and the wine have done their
1. “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for
all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11) . . . here at the
1. Let us pray:
In sickness, sorrow, want, or care,
May we each other’s burdens share;
May we, where help is needed, there
Give help as unto Thee!
And may Thy Holy Spirit move
All those who live to live in love
Till Thou shalt greet in heav’n above
All those who live in Thee.
Text: Public domain
1. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.