Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sermon for September 17-18, 2011 Trinity 13

September 17-18, 2011           Trinity 13        Luke 10:23-37

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A certain lawyer sought to test the Lord with what he thought was superior knowledge. When that failed, he sought to justify himself. When that failed, which it must, for no man descended from Adam can justify himself, that lawyer either went to Hell, or by the Grace of God he repented and found in Jesus Christ, Almighty God in the Flesh, a Redeemer. For there is One who has kept the Law, who has loved God above all things, who being equal to the Father did not demand His rights, but humbled Himself to pay the ransom for our sin. He loved the lawyer perfectly, without fail, for mercy's sake. He loved him with all His heart, soul, strength, and mind. He loved him all the way to the cross. He kept the Law, doing what the Lawyer could and had not. And He let that Law do to Him all it should have done to the lawyer, in the lawyer's place. He was moved by compassion, compassion for that lawyer, that racist, self-righteous, proud lawyer, and compassion also for you. In Him, O Christian, you have a neighbor.

Some of your other neighbors wind up on daytime television. Jerry Springer and crowd display humanity not at its worst, but at its most brutally honest. There we see men acting according to their most debased instincts. Whoredom, sodomites, deviant perverts, the depraved and demoralized -these are the benchmark of fallen humanity. Those shows find an audience because unlike the other creatures inhabiting this planet, men rejoice in the suffering and abominations of their brothers. The pulsating Television screen provides a cheap, though disgusting, thrill: “I am glad I'm not like him! What a fool! How sick!” And even we, yes, we too, in our weak-minded pride, find in these poor souls someone to feel superior about. At times we stoop so low as to brag even about not watching, and thinking we are better than those who do! We behave and pretend that we are smarter, that we are kinder and gentler, more sophisticated, more innocent, more sanctified, and ever so much more wise. We dance about this petty life as though we were better than others. Repent.

Drunk on sin, blinded by lust, deafened by their own egos and agendas, mankind lies dying in the ditch unaware: unaware that they are in a ditch, that they are dying, and that there is escape through the Blood of Christ. Satan has bought us cheap, raped us while we thanked him. We have bartered away our souls for a few shiny beads and a pint of rotgut vodka only to discover that treaties with the devil are even more worthless than his trinkets. We deserve His worst. Repent.

But lest that ditch mire us in despair, Jesus told a parable about compassion, mercy, and rescue. A man on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho falls among robbers. That man was desperately in need of a neighbor. The Law, the priests, passed him by. They could not help. How could they? Can the blind lead the blind? They had no way of restoring him, of forgiving him. He needed compassion. He needed help. He needed mercy. Along came this outsider, a despised person, of questionable birth, an ethnic enemy, a Jerry Springer outcast. Despised though he was, he had compassion. Where the Law demanded payment and amends he was merciful. Though He had no obligation, driven by selfless love, He bound up the wounds, poured on oil and wine, placed the poor man on His own beast of burden while He Himself walked like a servant. He took him to an inn of rest and recovery. He paid for his care, and promised to come back and take care of any other debts incurred. Where the Law could not help, this Outsider, this One from outside the Law, rescued and delivered for mercy's sake.

What then must you, O Lawyer, O Loop-hole seeker, Jerry Springer participant in the ditch, what must you do to justify yourself? Nothing. You can no more justify yourself than a frog can grab his legs out of the frying pan and make himself well. You must be helpless and dying on the side of the road. You must give up hope in the Law and be pulled out of the ditch by the Promise made to Abraham and to you: God will be your God, give you His Name, take care of you, protect you, defend you, rescue you by undeserved Grace. He will deliver you into a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of promise and future, and, at last, you shall be free! You must be justified by Him who is just. How? Where? When? Now. Here. According to His Promise: in His Word, by His Body and Blood applied to your wounds, to bind up your broken heart, to ease the pain, to begin the healing, to increase your sanctification by removing your guilt, shame, regret, and past, by joining you to Him who is perfect and holy! And never, never forget that your dreadful time of sorrow and suffering in the ditch, your uncertain moments on the road, and even your peaceful respite here in the Inn of rest and recovery, is but temporary. He is coming back. He will pay all the debts incurred.

What kind of a God is this, who even loves lawyers? He is the God who loves shysters, scoundrels, and deviants, the slothful and lethargic, the addicts and abusers, the lonely, afraid, and depressed. He is the God loved the world by sending His only begotten Son to redeem mankind. He is the God of compassion, mercy, and rescue, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Bible. He is the God of those who believe, who trust in His Word, and they are His children. His Name is Jesus for He saves His people.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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