“THE GOOD SAMARITAN SAVES SAMARITANS”
Saint Luke 17. 11-19
14th Sunday after Trinity: 1 September Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
“For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” [Heb. 4.12]
In the fullness of time, doing God’s will, the Nazarene journeyed to Jerusalem. The Trinity’s will was that the Son obey the Torah and do all that Adam and his spouse failed to do. The design of God’s salvation was that the flesh and blood Messiah, the true Israel, would restore fallen man by suffering and dying for all trespassers. And on the journey of buy-back and liberation the God/Man would reveal to some just Who it was marching freely to the tree of death and the resurrection of family and life. God in the flesh would heal and restore many during His brief visible Palestinian ministry.
Ethnic rivalries and Jewish theological politics aside, to get from northern Israel to Jerusalem in the south, one had to walk from the region of Galilee through Samaria as one headed up hill to Judea and King David’s ancient city. Jesus was in an area that had a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, a mingling of pedigreed and “correct-thinking” Jews, heterodox half-breed Samaritans, and pagan syncretistic Greeks/Gentiles. As Jesus entered a “certain village, there met Him ten sinners.” These ten men, by the way were lepers. Let us Lutherans deliciously borrow from Thomas Aquinas and correctly note that by essence, by true inherent ontological nature, the ten men were sinners…their incidental “accidents,” i.e. form and outward appearance just happened to be that of leprosy. For you see, all sinners are flawed, broken, decayed, dying, and horribly disfigured. Some are deaf, some are mute, some are dead 12-year old girls, some are women with unceasing flows of blood; some are cheating tax-collectors; some are “fallen women” with alabaster flasks of spikenard, and some are Samaritan women at wells with collections of husbands. And some are you: every one of you with your moral leprosy of disfiguring and ugly sins of daily omission and commission.
The John 3.16 of “for God so loved the world” is because of the Romans 5.11 of “all have sinned.” The wages of sin is death for you and every human since the sentence was first pronounced on Adam. And along the way there’s heartburn and heart disease; astigmatism and blindness; bad backs and ALS; baldness and leprosy. With the lepers--
He heals all ten of physical decay—but that’s NOT the point. Earlier in Matthew’s Evangel Jesus speaks the truth that The Father “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Mt. 5. 45]
And while it’s true that re-born Christians are still simul iustus et peccator (simultaneously sinners AND saint) what our text shows is that good things happen to Greeks and Jews, pagans and believers, Muslims and Lutherans. They were all healed by the Word of the Lord. They had all cried out to Him in anguish and heart-felt need “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” and He did. Whether they were all sincere in their Old Testament confession of Genesis 3.15 and following is NOT the point. Their cry is not why He healed them, in so far as their desire to be healed (their faith) is not what healed them. Cancer wards are packed to the gills with old and young who desire to be healed AND who still love Jesus. The point is always and ONLY about the Christ of God, Who He is and what He does! Jesus can do miracles upon anyone He chooses to but ONLY His gift of faith by the Holy Spirit can create a living man out of dead man. Only Jesus finds lost sheep, a lost Samaritan leper and gives Him back a beating heart that can receive a transfusion of eternal Godly Blood and fresh + live-restoring water.
Yes of course good works and an attempt to strive for a sanctified life of obedience ALWAYS follows faith and regeneration…but the word is “follows.”
It’s not that the Samaritan who “turned back” was not going to subsequently “go shew himself unto the priests,” sure he was…but first things first. JESUS.
The nine who left, who did not return are the fallen and rejecting Jewish nation, a picture of all who driven by works righteousness and glory to seek to show others themselves and have others recognize them for their deeds, good fortune, and glory. The returning Samaritan is the blood-bought saint found and created by God to receive all that the Son can bestow—yes, health, but so much more by faith: LIFE ETERNAL in the forgiveness of sins. For only in forgiveness does Jesus then bestow more of His words of Peace and His banquet of rest and love.
In this encounter with Jesus the God/Man, Saint Luke gives you your own family history and your daily diary, including what you’ll be doing now, and in a few short minutes at the communion rail.
To be sure, perhaps the nine, or some of them were later to seek Jesus out (but BY THE POWER of JESUS—His Word and Spirit) and that too is Grace filled joy for all of us. But the crux is that true worship, true servanthood, is not what you do but Who you receive. As Melanchthon notes in the Apology, true worship is to receive the gifts of Jesus. Receive your king with the Samaritan, you my fellow Samaritans. Receive Him on bended knee. Fall with your face at His pierced and scarred feet and give glory to God by eating and drinking the God/Man. The very content of Jesus-given faith: JESUS—has made you whole, and Holy.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost