6 September 2020 (Trinity Thirteenth Sunday Morning Prayer) Luke 10:23-37
Today’s sermon is based on the Gospel portion, the Gospel according to St. Luke, chapter 10, verses from 23 to 37. In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus appointed seventy people and sent them two and two into every city and place. He sent them as lambs among wolves. He gave them authority to heal the sick and commanded them to preach about the kingdom of God. The seventy returned with joy because the devils were subject unto them through Jesus’ name. But Jesus told them to rejoice because their names were written in heaven. When He was preaching, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Jesus saying, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus directed him to the Old Testament Laws given through Moses. The law says, “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 thy neighbour as thyself”. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But the lawyer wanted to justify himself and “said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” To answer his question, Jesus told him the Good Samaritan parable which is a familiar passage to everyone.
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell among thieves. The thieves stripped him of his raiment, wounded him and left him half dead. A certain priest came down that way. He saw him and passed by on the other side. Likewise, a Levite came, looked at him and passed by on the other side. Then a Samaritan came where he lay. When the Samaritan saw him, he had compassion on him. In verses 34 and 35 we read what he did: “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Jesus asked him, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”
We know that many people followed Jesus wherever He went. Some followed to hear the word of God, some followed expecting receive healing and miracles, some followed to witness miracles and some to find fault on Jesus. The scribes, pharisees and the spiritual leaders followed Jesus to find fault with Him. This lawyer asked questions to tempt Jesus and to justify himself.
I had a few questions when reading this passage: 1) Why Jesus did mention Jerusalem and Jericho? 2) Why did Jesus give more importance to Samaritans than the chosen people Israelites? 3) What is the real meaning of this parable?
Samaritans were half Jews and half gentiles. They were the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph. The race came about after the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel. Some people from the nation of Israel stayed behind. They inter-married with the Assyrians producing the Samaritans. Even though they were descendants of the tribes of Israel, they mingled with other faith and lost their integrity. Jews thought that they were superior to other tribes and did not have any dealings with Samaritans. Jews treated the Samaritans as dogs or untouchables.
Jericho was a city about 15 miles away from Jerusalem and was in the Jordan valley. It was a dense forest full of palm trees. Robbery was the most prevalent activity in the region. Jerusalem means city of peace and represents God’s blessing and salvation. Jericho was an attractive city that drew people to come. Jericho represents going away from God’s blessing. This certain man who left Jerusalem to Jericho represents those who are losing their salvation or God’s blessing. Jesus has mentioned about the thief many times. In John 10:10 He says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. When the man is tempted and yields to temptation, he is on the road to Jericho. The thief is the devil who is steals the eternal life that we have inherited from Jesus. When the chosen people, that is, the priest and the Levite saw the half-dead man, they did not help him but passed on the other side. But the Samaritan who was considered as a dog took care of him. The Samaritan administered first aid and took the man to the inn and entrusted him to the inn keeper’s care.
Let us self-examine ourselves with the context. All of us will be one of the people in this parable. Who are we? Are we are the man who travelled from Jerusalem to Jericho? The priest? The Levite? The Samaritan? Or the inn keeper?
In Matthew 7:13 Jesus says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”. Jesus said the road to salvation is very narrow and the walk is tough. But the destination is Jerusalem, which is peace and God’s blessing of eternal life. 1 Peter 5:8 cautions us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” The devil wants to divert as many as people possible from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jericho is attractive but it leads to destruction. If we are among the people who have turned our paths around to travel to Jericho, we are called to turn back to the narrow way that leads to Jerusalem.
When we look around us, many people are going away from salvation or from God’s peace. The worldly things attract them and pull them away from the presence of the LORD God and make them travel to Jericho. When they leave Jerusalem, the city of peace, they fall into the hands of the thief that is the devil. In Matthew 9:35 we read that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people”. After His resurrection, Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”. Before ascension, He commanded his disciples “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem”.
All those who want to be restored or saved have to put their trust on Jesus. We have to obey the word of God and follow God’s commandments. We must rend our hearts, repent and turn to God. We must follow the new covenant which is spiritually eating His body and drinking the blood of the lamb of God. Only then we can inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven with Jesus.
Today, we are His chosen people and disciples. We are the priests or Levites. What is our response to the people who have been robbed of their salvation? Are we helping them to be healed? Are we comforting them? Are we sharing the word of God? Are we helping them to grow in Christ? The Samaritan administered first aid to the man and carried him on his donkey to the inn. Are we willing to do the same? Are we a good neighbour to the other people? Do we love our neighbours as ourselves? Do we give the hungry meat? Do we give the thirsty a drink? Do we clothe the naked? Do we take in the stranger? Do we visit the sick and those in prison?
All of us have been on the road to Jericho. We were half-dead until Good Samaritan Jesus came looking for us. He bound our wounds and anointed us with the Holy Spirit. He has restored us to good health. When we needed a neighbour He took care of us. He has fed us with His Word. When we were thirsty, he gave us living water to drink. He clothed us with the robe of righteousness. He has welcomed us to live with Him in heaven. He has restored us when were sick. He has freed us from death. We must follow Jesus’s example and be a Good Samaritan and neighbour. We must reflect Him in our lives and be a good neighbour. May the Good Samaritan help us to prepare ourselves and our neighbours to inherit eternal and everlasting life with Jesus in the kingdom of heaven. Amen!