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still a bit out of sequence

Luke 10:23-37

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Sep 8, 2019 

Christ our Lord says, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!  For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Thus far the words of our Lord.

The words “What you see” indicate Christ Jesus, His life, His words, His actions, His suffering, death, and resurrection.  These are the things the disciples were privileged to see.

Now, it is not that no one had ever seen the Lord at all before that time.  God appeared in human form at various points in history.  This was most likely the Son of God, whose destiny and resolve was to eventually become flesh.  So it seems to have been His business to appear as a man from time to time.  He appeared to our first parents in the Garden of Eden when He spoke to them as He walked in the Garden.  He came to Jacob, with whom He wrestled.  There are also Joshua, Daniel, and others.

But the Son of God did not become flesh until the womb of the Virgin Mary.  This is a distinct and new thing that He did.  Instead of only briefly taking on a human form and discarding it, instead He took the human form and nature into His being for all time.  He became flesh.  This is a permanent and awesome act of the Son of God, the mystery of the ages that has been revealed to us.

So the disciples were seeing unique events that no other time period would witness.  The Son of God became Man, and He lived in the form of a servant in order to redeem mankind.  Many fervent believers in many ages wished to see this, but they did not.

Some saw, not with their physical eyes, but with the eyes of faith.  With their spiritual eyes, many saw the coming of Christ from afar, that is, they trusted the promises of God and looked forward to the incredible events to come.  We look back in time with faith at the past events that are pictured for us by Holy Scripture.

Yet the disciples saw with physical eyes.  They witnessed the Lord face to face, in the flesh.

We do not see the same way, with physical eyes.  Yet “blessed are they who believe though they do not see.” Physical seeing is not necessary, nor does it make a person a better saint that they saw Christ face to face.  On the contrary, we have a distinct blessing they did not have, that we believe in what we did not see.

Yet we should realize that the physical seeing at the time of the incarnation and earthly life of Christ is not a small thing.  That was the crucial time of all history.  This cannot be emphasized too much.  The power and effect of sin and death for believers was altered.  The enemy of all mankind was defeated.  God flung wide the gates of heaven to all who believe.  He is also preparing a new heaven and a new earth that will be our home in absolute perfection and unblemished beauty. 

We have the fruits of that time, by grace through faith on account of the merits and work of Christ.  Although we are not the witnesses of those critical years, we benefit from them as much as any saint who ever lived.

But not all see.  Many eyes remain firmly closed. 

The lawyer, who studied the Law of God, came to Christ to test Him.  Now why would he do that?  Because he does not see.  The lawyer does not recognize Christ, although his physical eyes see Him.  The physical sight fails in that man because he does not have faith to discern who stands there.  So his physical eyes tell him that here is a man, just like any other man.  But faith, if he had it, would say, “Here is the Son of God and the Savior of the world!”

So this blind man who does not know that he is blind says to Christ, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He asks a salvation question, all the while that Salvation in human flesh is before his eyes.  Here is both God, to whom is owed all love of the lawyer’s being, as well as a Man who is his neighbor, to whom love and service as Brother are due.  Yet the lawyer tempts and tests the Lord, as if he owes no love, and as if he were better than Christ.  He wants to justify himself by judging Christ.  The lawyer wants to push down Christ so that he can be elevated.

How to get through the thick skull of the lawyer?  But let us not get too superior in ourselves as if we are better.  Our skulls are plenty thick.  If we have anything better than the lawyer, it is only by the undeserved gift of God.

Therefore, to the lawyer and to all us thick skulls, Christ sets forth the example of the Good Samaritan.

Consider the Samaritan, who is despised by Jews yet turns out to be the best model of love to be seen.  The Samaritan saves a man that is dying, helpless, without a hope.  Especially after the poor injured man saw both priest and Levite pass by on the other side, surely he must have thought, “If they would not stop, then surely no one will help me.” But the Samaritan stops because he is good, better than all other men.

The Samaritan who saves humans lingering at the brink of death is most of all Christ.  Who else fits that story better?  No man on earth.  Christ was despised by so many of the Jews, yet He nevertheless did not falter in showing tender compassion to all the men born in sin.  He could have passed by on the other side, since we all have deserved the death we have purchased with our sins.  Christ should have avoided us since we were by nature the enemies of God.  Still, Christ did everything for us who were helpless and dying.  He picked us up and gave us life.

Yet the lawyer cannot see Christ.  He cannot recognize his Lord in the story.  Surely the lawyer had heard Christ teach.  Surely He had seen graphic examples of Christ helping mankind, over and over.  Yet he could not see Christ in the story.

Do we see Christ?

Do we see Him in our neighbor?  Christ says that we do unto Him by helping those in need.  Or do we pass by on the other side?

Do we see ourselves as masks of Christ?  Although we are still sinners, unable to perfectly fulfill the Law in this life, we must begin at the works He has shown us.  So we are able to become the Good Samaritan by helping those who are helpless, even our enemies.

It is easy to love those who are our friends.  No problem.  They show appreciation.  They remember our kindness.  But those whom we might treat as enemies are hardest to love.  We want to think that we are so loving that we do not have enemies.  But we do.  They are, perhaps, the person who is not grateful when we are kind.  They are, perhaps, the person who does not remember that we have acted as a friend to them.  They are those who sin against us but feel no remorse.  It is not easy to show tender mercy to them.  Our hearts are not so easily moved with compassion when we see their needs.  But we should better train our hearts, because our neighbor needs our love.  Even those who are repugnant and repulsive need us to act like Christ.  They especially need it, because Christ wants them to see His love in our actions.

So the parable is not only about Christ.  He does not really answer the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” because it is the wrong question.  The lawyer was seeking to place boundaries around whom he should love so that he could do just enough to inherit life.  Instead Christ answers the question the lawyer should have asked, “Who acts like a neighbor?” Christ, the Samaritan, does.  So we should do likewise.  We should be Samaritans like Christ.  Be like Christ in His love for neighbor.

Do we see Christ in the work of the innkeeper?  The man who cares for us while Christ is “away” with the resources Christ has given is a steward.  Of course Christ is never truly away.  He has hidden His visible presence so that our physical eyes cannot see Him.  But He still wants you taken care of.  So He works through men.

Why do we need Him?  Because we are still injured.  We need the healing of God’s house, which is like an inn to which half-dead people are brought.  Sin still clings to us with its effects.  The weakness of the old Adam still clings to us.  So us weak sinners still need a servant to give us the gifts of Christ.

Do we see Christ in the Church?  Christ shows us His face by showing His redemption.  The mercy of the Lord is the clearest way of seeing who He is.  The sacrifice He was willing to make reveals the primary essence of His being.  So the crucifix is the best picture of what Christ is all about.  He is so filled with compassion that He was willing to shed His last drop of Blood for you and me.  Where the Gospel is, there we see Christ as He is.  And the Gospel is what makes the Church the Church.

We see Christ also in the Sacrament, where the bread is His Body and the wine is His Blood.  If we see Him there, then we cannot help but love Him there.  How could we not go to receive Him as much as we can, just as we should eagerly go to hear His voice?  Love does no less, and we who were rescued by our Good Samaritan cannot help but love Him.

Some come with a false heart, like the lawyer.  Some give an appearance of faith and piety and claim to understand the love that is due to God.  Yet they are hypocrites.  All hypocrites are by nature works-righteous.  They believe they are doing well and have heaven all wrapped up in a bow, and only a bad person would tell them there is anything wrong with them.

God protect us from that blindness.  Instead, He shows us that we are heirs.  We are not earners.  What we earned is condemnation, death, and hell.  We inherit, and there is nothing we pay or labor to get an inheritance.  We simply receive what the Lord’s kindness gives.  So we will freely inherit the new heaven and the new earth.  In Christ we inherit eternity and life.

God keep us in this faith forever and ever.  Amen.

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