Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
Our readings for today continue the theme of past Sundays: The difference between saving faith, true faith in the heart, and outward acts.
Many people, perhaps most people in the world, have an backward idea of the relationship between the state of the heart and good works. They think that good works are evidence of faith and love of God within. The Bible tells us it is the other way around. Outward actions are not necessarily evidence of the state of heart, because many people do good works for selfish reasons. However, if we have faith and love in God, good works will be the result.
In our gospel for today (Luke 10:21-37), Jesus Christ our Lord shows us the difference between true and false piety through the parable of the Good Samaritan. "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And there came down a certain priest that way: and seeing him, passed by on the other side . And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed to where he was and saw him, he had compassion on him, and came and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, Take care of him, and whatever more he spends, I will repay you when I return. "
The priest and Levite were religious men in the eyes of the community. But it is easy to perform the rites of worship and generous deeds when they win the admiration of others. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, there were no crowds of admirers and there was the threat that the thieves would return who left their victim for dead. Then the men of false piety would not get involved in the rescue of the victim. Only the Samaritan showed the genuine mercy that God wants to plant in our hearts.
In our epistle, Paul delves more into the relationship between the hope of eternal life and obedience to God's Law. God expects obedience to the Law, but nor by such obedience can we earn the hope of eternal life. God gave this promise to Abraham before the Law was given to Moses.
"Now to Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." This refers to Genesis 12:1-3, 7, among other verses. "The covenant confirmed before by God in Christ, the law which was 430 later, does not annul, or make void the promise. For if the inheritance be of the law, it would not be by the promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. "
God knew in advance that all nations would be justified by faith as was determined in His eternal and immutable will, for He is the God who justifies by faith. Therefore the Gospel message, which was included in the promise to Abraham, proclaimed a blessing to be given to all nations.
"Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made, and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. "
Because the Law exposes transgressions, it as added to the gospel message. As the children of Israel grew in number, they gradually lost sight of the great prophecy of their spiritual heritage, and became guilty of many violations of the will of God, so they were in danger of losing the treasure of which they once had been assure. And so God gave the Law to show them their transgressions, to keep them alive in the consciousness of sin, so they would feel the need of a Savior at all times.
As it was with the people of God in the Old Testament, it is much more so for the New Testament church. Abraham and the patriarchs of Israel had the promise of the Savior. As the church we have the fulfillment of the promise in Christ Jesus. The Savior has come and has risen from the dead! This is the sure foundation of our hope.
However, as the Israelites, little by little, we may forget this treasure and fall into sin. Therefore, we must hear the law to recognize and repent of our sins. Thank God, sin can not annul the covenant with God sealed in baptism. The law is subordinate to the gospel. God does not want our condemnation, but our redemption. Therefore, we can always repent and receive absolution and the body and blood of Christ to grow in faith and true piety.
May the peace that passes all understanding be with you forever. Amen.
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