INI + AMEN.
What do you do with the parables? Well, we think we’ve already got the answer. They’re earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. The problem is that “heavenly meaning” so often means some moral lesson at the end, and this is especially true with the Good Samaritan. But Jesus doesn’t tell the Good Smaraitan as some sort of Christian version of Aesop’s fables, as if Jesus fits in with all other religious teachers, saying, “Treat your fellow man with love and respect no matter who he is.” What sort of heavenly meaning is that? Everyone knows that already! Besides that, there’s always something that doesn’t quite fit. We’ll get to that in bit. But, another problem is that we think that Jesus tells the parables so that people can understand them. This doesn’t fit with what Jesus Himself says to His disciples in Luke 8, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'” You see, Jesus reveals Himself in the parables, and He suffers Himself to be missed and overlooked by those not looking for Him.
((2. Jesus is the Samaritan.))
So, what do you do with the parable of the Good Samaritan? Jesus reveals Himself in this parable. He preaches Himself and His salvation. It’s all seen in one word that reveals the true nature of this parable: one little Greek word that’s translated as “had compassion.” “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.“ That little word is only used in the Gospels, and it’s only used to talk about Jesus. Not only that, but, as I said before, there’s something out of place in the parable, something or rather someone who doesn’t fit. It’s the Samaritan! The Samaritan in our parable isn’t where he’s supposed to be. Jerusalem and Jericho are some distance from Samaria, and no self-respecting Jew would travel to Samaria, and vice versa. God isn’t where He’s supposed to be. He’s supposed to be in heaven, in the Holy of Holies. But He’s been born. He’s living among sinners. He’s come to have compassion, to save sinners struck down by sin, death, and the devil. He’s come to die: to be stripped and struck down, killed by the enemies of His people but rising again on the third day. That’s your God Jesus in a nutshell.
((1. Jesus is Your Samaritan.))
This parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable of salvation. The priest and Levite pass you by, leaving you lost and spiritually dead. No works of the Law save you. Nothing YOU do saves you. The Law will only leave you to die. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Do this 100% perfect all the time, and you will live. Put God first always; always put your neighbor, your enemy, someone you don’t even like before you—not just in what you do, but even in your heart and with pure motives. Perfection is God’s scale. Nothing else will do. And if it’s not perfect, well, God has this to say to you, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law and do them.” Besides all that, what can a person left in the ditch do? Nothing. Jesus, your Samaritan God, must save you. Jesus is Your Samaritan. He comes FOR YOU and has compassion. He dies. He returns on the third day. The Samaritan left enough money for two days, He would return on the third. Jesus hints at His resurrection! He entrusts you to the care of His innkeepers, His pastors, who deliver that death and resurrection to you in the Samaritan’s oil and wine, His Word, His Sacraments that bind up and heal the wounds you suffered at the hands of sin, death, and devil. These innkeepers—no matter who they are—care for you until Jesus the Good Samaritan returns in glory.
JESUS IS YOUR GOOD SAMARITAN WHO SAVES YOU.
He has compassion on you because that’s who He is: the compassionate one. He bears you up. Binds your wounds. Gives you over to the innkeeper to care for you. So, who’s your neighbor? Jesus is. He’s already been your neighbor, and He’s neighbor for your neighbor through you to them. “Faith toward God and fervent love toward one another”—that’s yours in Jesus. He delivers that to you in His Supper. The oil and wine of His body and blood strengthen you in body and soul to life everlasting. The Supper strengthens your trust in God; the Supper increases your love toward one another. All because Jesus was the Good Samaritan FOR YOU, and He still is today.
INI + AMEN.