Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sermon for 9/14/14--Trinity XIII



Brought to the Inn

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

The young master of the Law knows he should love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Jesus even commends his answer as the right one! But he wanted to justify himself. Imagine that! He wanted to make it seem like he really could love God and his neighbor, and he thought to impress God and earn eternal life. What does it mean to justify yourself? It means to show someone else why you're right, why you are allowed to do what you do. We know all about that. We try to excuse ourselves, to explain why we had to do what we’ve done. This law expert wanted to justify himself. He wanted to prove to Jesus that he knew the content of the Law, and he also wanted to assert that he could actually keep the Law.

When we think we can somehow talk our way into God's good graces, that we can fool the Lord into believing we're worthy, then the Law does what it always does: it accuses! Like a bandit it comes to strip us naked, rob us of our supposed worthiness, beat us up, and leave us within an inch of our lives, naked and bleeding in a ditch. The law always accuses us. That is all the Law can do. It robs us of any notion that we can actually earn God's favor by what we do. When we are laying beat up and robbed by the Law, who do we want to save us? The Law! We want to figure out some way to obey the commandments and work ourselves out of our sin and punishment.

But the priest and the Levite just pass by on the other side. They represent the Law. The Law, the neighbor we lift our bleeding hands toward, ignores us. We are unclean, unworthy. So who comes to save us? It is a Samaritan, someone the Jews would never even want to touch them! Our Samaritan is Jesus, the God nobody wants. The world wants a glorious God. But this is Jesus, God in the flesh. This is the One who was nailed to a cross to shut him up and make Him go away. Jesus comes to save us by giving us His goods to rescue and take care of us. By His death on the cross, Jesus allows Himself to be the one numbered among the criminals, hung there in our place. And this death and His triumph over death are our rescue from the ditch. He heals our wounds by pouring in the oil and wine of the Holy Sacraments. He washes us clean in the waters of Baptism and feeds us with His body and blood. He takes us to the inn, His holy church, where He provides His gifts to the innkeeper, the pastor, who administers care and comfort to sinners. We who could do nothing to save ourselves are rescued by Jesus, our neighbor and good Samaritan.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, blessed are your eyes and ears! You have learned something the world doesn't care to know: You don't have to try to get on God's good side. You are already on His good side in Christ. And more than that, you have learned what it is to love your neighbor, not because it benefits you, but because it benefits them. This notion that we need to be saved by Jesus alone and that our good works are only for our neighbor—these are the things the world doesn't know anything about. But you, as you heal from your wounds in the inn that is the church, as you savor the comfort and healing Jesus gives in His holy sacraments, rest easy. Rest easy knowing that you are safe in Christ. And when the opportunity comes for you to help and do good to other people, don't worry about making God happy. Jesus has already done that for you. Instead, when you see your neighbor in need, just go and do likewise. Jesus is neighbor to you, and you are neighbor to others. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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