In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Ask a law question of God, get a law answer from God. For God has both messages in His Word: Law and Gospel. The Law says you can get eternal life IF you live perfectly, never faliling at one jot, tittle, or iota of God’s Law. The Gospel says the Law makes demands that sinful human beings can never live up to, thus ALL are damned to hell under the Law, and can only be saved by God’s free grace through the cross of His Son Jesus Christ.
Those two messages of God’s Word presuppose two different kinds of faith. The faith of the Law looks to the Law for salvation and therefore trusts in man, in kings, in governments, in social programs, in mankind’s innate goodness and ability to save itself in any and all predicaments he gets into.
Gospel faith trust in God and God alone for salvation. This is a message hidden from the human mind or wisdom, and is only revealed by Jesus to mankind. For He, His Word, must tell it to you. His cross alone delivers it to you through the means of grace He has specified.
Human, Law-based wisdom can understand the Gospel. But human wisdom can not trust in the Gospel, unless the Holy Spirit gives that trust to you. St. Paul uses a human example from the lawcodes of his day saying: once someone dies, once a will goes into effect, you can’t contest it. You can’t add to it. That’s basic law. Everyone knows it. God’s relationships with humanity are based on wills or testaments that He has set up with mankind. God is faithful, thus, these legal agreements can be trusted.
God’s 1st legal agreement with mankind was the promise given to Adam and Eve to send one of their own offspring who would save them from their own sin. God repeated that promise to Abraham. One his own offspring, his own seed, would bless all the families of the earth. Not just Jews, not just Abraham’s offspring, but all families. The Law of Moses, which came 430 years after the covenant with Abraham can not annul this testament previously put into effect. That’s just plain simple human logic, based on rules, based on order.
But come to God Himself with a Law question and He’ll give you a law answer. “Lord what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Well, pure simple human logic tells us something about inheritting doesn’t it? Firstly, you have to a have a relationship to one who you will inherit from. You must be their offspring. You can’t do anything to earn that. And secondly, they have to die.
Well guess what? Jesus has died. He has risen. He and His Father are one. He does not need anything that is His Father’s, because all of it is His, His inheritance. He gives all that is His to you, all His inheritance, all the wealth of the universe. He gives it to you: eternal life, freedom from the debt your sins owe, even things you need for daily life. Out of His grace and mercy He provides all this to you.
You can’t do anything to earn it. That’s one of points of the Good Samaritan parable. What must I do? Love God, and love your neighbour like the Good Samaritan did. Always pour out your wealth. Always help the one in need, any need, every need. Be there for all, for everyone, for even your enemy is your neighbour. Ask a law question and get the fullness of the Law for an answer. And what Jesus is saying to you is, “Stop trying to justify yourself by your own rightouesness, by your own actions. Admit it. Face it. You are full of sin, sinful from the day you were conceived. Repent and trust in Me. For your hard hearted reliance on yourself is repugnant to Me. It spits in my face. I fulfilled the Law and died for you because you can’t save yourself and you tell me, ‘No, no Lord, I can do it. Just give me a little more time, a little help, but I’ll do it on my own. I don’t need you.’”
But you know what? You do need Him. Even if you weren’t a sinner, lost in sin, dead in sins and transgressions, you would still need your God. For you were created for Him. St. Augustine said, “Lord, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” He is your creator. Just as a child longs to know His natural father, craves his love, affection, and attention, and will be driven to desperate lengths to please that father or fill the void in their lives that their father leaves by his neglect, abuse, or abandonment, so we will find no rest in our lives till we rest in the peace of His good grace and forgiveness that He has acquired for us through His beloved Son.
And this message can be found in the Good Samaritan parable. But it is hidden to all but the eyes of faith. Ask a Law question, get a Law answer. But ask a Gospel question and get a Gospel answer. For Jesus tells His own disciples the secrets of the Kingdom of God, but kings and prophets and any seeking Law answers will never find them.
So let’s ask the Gospel questions: where is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the saviour of world to be found in the Good Samaritan parable? Where is salvation for the poor, blind, beaten down by sin, laying dying by roadside? Where is the sinner? Who is the sinner? Where am I? I am the man beaten by robbers who wish to take my life. And who wishes to take your life? Who wishes you harm? Satan, your sinful-self, and the world. They are the robbers.
And who will save me? Will the men of the Law? The men living out law by not coming near to dying one, in case his blood, or possible death should make them unclean according to Law? No. The Law, though good and right, can not save.
So who will save you? Your enemy? A Samaritan, someone who is a foreigner to you? YES! For as a sinner, the God of justice is your enemy. You hate Him, for though His judgement of you is just, it condemns you. Yet, that very enemy, God your Father, will save you for He is the one who does mercy upon sinners who by their very nature are his enemies.
These are the secrets that Jesus tells to those who are His own: to His disciples, His beloved, to you and me who repent of our sinfulness, trusting in Him, clinging to His cross and the oil of His Spirit and the wine He pours on our wounds of sin, healing and strengthening us for eternal life.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock