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Sunday, August 21, 2016

08212016 13th Sunday After Trinity - Jesus Put to the Test - Jesus wants us to take care of our neighbor!

August 14, 2016
Luke 10:23-37 – Jesus put to the test – Good Samaritan
Jesus wants us to take care of our neighbor!
School started Thursday for those who might not know.  For the kids it is a time to return to a ‘normal’ routine and schedule.  For parents it’s the opportunity to breath and not trip over nor be pulled in 25 different directions, taking kids to swim, the movies, friends houses, camps or even on vacation.
For the kids their new norm will become taking tests and earning grades on assignments.  Some kids will easily accomplish the goals and expectations that the teachers are measuring, but for others, they will struggle.  Personally I was a struggler.  I didn’t test well.  I didn’t like homework and I definitely didn’t like it when I had to copy definitions out of a dictionary as homework in Mrs. Jefferess 4th grade class.
From our Gospel this morning unlike the testing students and our kids will encounter, Jesus is being put to the test by a lawyer.  Can you imagine Jesus being tested in front of a crowd of people?  The Son of God, Who was part of creating the Heavens and the earth being put to the test with the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  To be a fly on the wall when this conversation occurred would have been life changing.  Why you might ask?  Simply, because Jesus turns the tables on the lawyer.  Instead of answering the question, Jesus asks the lawyer a question.  Jesus didn’t disrespect the lawyer, but simply revealed that the lawyer looked at this not from the perspective of serving others, but serving himself.  The lawyer was trying to trap Jesus with his human understanding of God’s law and how it was being interpreted in the Temple.  The lawyer squarely was searching for a way to trap Jesus and serve his own purpose and interests as well of that of his friends.
Jesus saw through the words in the question and the intent behind it.  Jesus was looking not from the perspective of Himself, but what would bring His Father the greatest Glory.  Jesus intent was to love all of mankind and be willing to sacrifice Himself, because of His love for us.
Bill Hull noted discipleship expert asks a question in his book, Conversion and Discipleship, which has at its core, Jesus same intent that He could and was able to fulfill.  Bill asks, “How are you doing loving the people God has put in your life?”  The story Jesus tells of the Good Samaritan demonstrates clearly the importance of this question, but also the application in the story with the Good Samaritan.
The Samaritan was seen as ‘enemy number one’ for a Jew, but as Jesus shows, the Samaritan was the only person who showed mercy.  The Priest and the Levite, good Jews did not demonstrate a love for their fellow man.  But this man, whom would have been avoided by any ‘proper Jew’, not only stopped, bound up the wounds of the man who had been beaten.  He not only put him on his own beast of burden, but pulled out two denarii and even promised to pay whatever more was required in order for this stranger, who had been beaten to within an inch of his life to be cared for at the inn.  Clearly for the Good Samaritan, he demonstrated what care and concern as well as love meant.
So I return to Bill Hull’s question, “How are you doing loving the people God has put in your life?”  If we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, come to worship in His house, receive His sacrament that gives us life and salvation, He, that is Jesus expects, no Jesus clearly says to us today, “Go and do the same.”  Jesus is calling us to go and show mercy to the least of these.  Jesus is calling us to reach out to the least of these and love our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus is calling we who come to worship, not to let this sanctuary be our destination, but for our church to be a stop or waypoint on Jesus call to “Go and do the same.”  Jesus intent is for us to be a sending church for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We the saints of Emmanuel are called to take care of our neighbor and as Bill Hull infers and even copies from this story of the Good Samaritan, to love the people placed into our lives.  We the saints of Emmanuel are called to tell what Jesus Christ did on Calvary for all of mankind.  We the saints of Emmanuel are called to love our neighbor, no matter the cost, no matter the inconvienence.
This summer, we here at Emmanuel clearly demonstrated this concept of loving our neighbors.  When Sky Ranch came this summer parents trusted us to take care of their kids.  And on Thursday night after our program, where the kids sung their hearts out and we heard the real meaning behind, “Come as you are!” I had numerous parents thank me for what the church had done.  I tell this for a simple reason.  Because it proves that God through the church of Emmanuel demonstrated clearly that we do love our neighbor.  We are capable.  The question for us today is since Sky Ranch is only one week out of the summer, “How are we doing loving the people God has put in our lives today?”

It is my prayer as we are put to the test by our culture by our community and as we join together in our church, we can answer the question boldly and honestly.  Not only with one summer activity, but intentionally engage one another in not just a weekly commitment, but a daily commitment to hear and heed Jesus call to the lawyer and to each of us today to love and take care of our neighbor.  For Jesus call to us today is to simply look to the Good Samaritan and “Go and do the same.”  AMEN.

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