But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The lawyer was really pressing Jesus in order to justify himself. “So tell me Jesus, who really is my neighbor?” The ambiguity of the word “neighbor” was working on the heart of the lawyer. The reality that all people could be the lawyer’s neighbors did not sit well with him. The lawyer was only looking at himself to fulfill the Law. His original question regarding what he must do to inherit eternal life showed that he was a man who was all about the Law. His salvation was up to him.
Jesus delivers to him the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a parable that many of us are familiar with and have heard throughout our lives. Often we are placed in the parable as the one who is helping and assisting. We are the ones working to demonstrate our validity before others. We see ourselves as the “Good Samaritan.”
Unfortunately, when we insert ourselves as the one doing the action, we usurp the work of Christ. The lawyer wants to know two things: What must I do to inherit eternal life, and who is my neighbor? With both of these questions he is seeking justification. It is the latter question that answers the first question. The Good Samaritan is not him! It is not us! Reading the text through the work of Christ we see that Christ is the Good Samaritan and we are the person lying in the road (half) dead because of our sins. We have been beaten down and left for dead by the world.
Christ comes as the person least likely to help us. In our sinfulness we despise Christ just as the Samaritans were loathed by the Jewish people. He is the neighbor who serves us and restores us to life. He pays for all our needs and then He is coming again to claim us. No longer are we left dead along the road. The Good Samaritan has washed your wounds in the waters of Baptism. He has restored you with the nurturing strengthening of faith in the Eucharist. You are in His everlasting care until He returns in the resurrection of the dead. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Christ has our host surrounded With clouds of martyrs bright, Who wave their palms in triumph And fire us for the fight. Then Christ the cross ascended To save a world undone And, suffering for the sinful, Our full redemption won. (“Christ Is the World’s Redeemer” LSB 539, st.2)
-Rev. Timothy Davis is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Athens, GA.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Over eight sessions, The Messiah: Revealing Jesus in the Old Testament will lead you through the entirety of the Old Testament with daily readings, questions, and discussion prompts. After a brief introduction that reviews Christ’s earthly ministry, you will dive into the heart of the Holy Books that have spiritually nourished God’s people from creation to today! Now available from Concordia Publishing House.