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“The Parable of the Good Samaritan”
Luke 10:25-37


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost—July 14, 2013

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading is one of Jesus’ most famous parables, “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.”  One way to interpret this parable is as an allegory which symbolically tells the story of what Jesus himself has done for us and our salvation.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho.”  Jerusalem was where the temple of the Lord was located, in which the Lord’s presence dwelt.  So this man walking away from Jerusalem, away from the presence of the Lord, symbolizes sinful humanity turning away from God.  This means that the person going away from Jerusalem in the parable is actually YOU.  For according to your sinful nature YOU have turned away from the Lord and gone off on your own sinful path.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers.”  The “robbers” in the parable represent the devil, the world, and your own sinful nature.  For, like the man in the parable, you have fallen into the hands of these “robbers.”

“They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.”  Just as the robbers in the parable stripped the man of his clothes, in the same way the devil, the world, and your own sinful nature have stripped you of the right to be a child of God.  They have beaten you with temptation, and left you half dead, that is, physically alive but spiritually condemned to eternal death.

“A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”  The Priest and the Levite represent the sacrifices and worship and commands of the Old Testament.  They walk by on the other side to symbolize that all the sacrifices and worship and commands in the world cannot save you in your spiritual predicament from eternal death.  As Paul says, “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law. . . [We] know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”  The Samaritan is none other than Jesus Christ himself.  For he saw you in your fallen state and, being deeply moved, he took pity on you and came to rescue you.  Like the Samaritan in the parable, Jesus was indeed a stranger in a strange land.  For he, being true God, left his “homeland” of heaven and traveled to where you are at by becoming a true man here on earth.  He didn’t pass by on the other side or ignore you; he came right down to your level, taking on our flesh and blood.  On account of your sin and rebellion you had become to him like a foreigner, but he humbled himself to give you aid and comfort and healing.  Paul puts it this way in Philippians, “[He] did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

“[The Samaritan] went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.”  Christ brings healing to the pain and the wounds of sin, soothing you with his comforting Spirit, by pouring out upon you the oil and wine, which represent his Sacraments.

The oil stands for Holy Baptism.  In ancient times, olive oil was applied to those who were baptized.  Before Baptism, they would be anointed with oil as a symbol of the inner cleansing that was about to take place as well as to show that Satan had been sealed out and was no longer in possession this person.  Then, after the ceremony, the baptized would again be anointed with oil to show that they had become one with Christ, and like Christ, for the name Christ literally means “Anointed One.”  In your Baptism, Christ rescued you from the robbers, he washed away the wounds of your sin, and he made you one with him.  As Paul says in Titus, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

“[The Samaritan] went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.”  The oil in the parable represents the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, and of course the wine symbolizes the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  In his Holy Supper, Christ gives you his own body and blood, to strengthen and heal your soul.  As John says, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin.”

“Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.”  The inn represents the kingdom of God, the Church.  In this way Christ shows that it is through the Sacraments that he brings you into his Church and kingdom and causes you to remain there.

The donkey in the parable is symbolic of how Christ humbled himself in order to save you, for it reminds us of the donkey on which he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to die.  As Paul says in Philippians, “He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” 

“The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.  ‘Look after him,’ he said,’ and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”  The innkeeper represents the Pastor, who has been appointed by Christ to look after his Church and to care for his people who continue suffer from the wounds of sin.  The Pastor does this by continuing the ministry of Christ, pouring on oil and wine, that is, administering the Sacraments to the repentant and speaking to them Christ’s word of forgiveness.  The Samaritan promises to pay the innkeeper when he returns, which symbolizes that the faithful Pastor and other faithful Christians will be rewarded richly by Christ when he comes again on the Last Day, as he says in another parable, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

So, one way to interpret this parable is as an allegory which symbolically tells the story of what Jesus himself has done for us and our salvation.  The man in the parable is you, walking away from the Lord on your own sinful path, attacked by the “robbers” of the devil, the world, and your own sinful nature, stripped of your right to be a child of God, beaten with temptation and left half dead, physically alive but spiritually condemned to eternal death.

Like the Priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side, all the sacrifices and worship and commands in the world cannot save you in this predicament.  But, Christ the Good Samaritan, a stranger in a strange land, had pity on you and came to your rescue, humbling himself for your salvation by his death upon the cross,  showering upon you the healing oil and wine of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, bringing you into his Church, and commending you to the care of his appointed Pastor.

Christ, the Good Samaritan, fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures from Jeremiah which say, “‘I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.  I will bestow on you the oil of gladness, and give you wine to rejoice your heart.’” [Patristic Paraphrase of Jeremiah 30:17 and 31:12]

Amen.

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