Sunday, July 14, 2013

“Love Knows No Limit!” (Luke 10:25-37)

S-1373-8SAP/C 7/14/2013 Hymns: (O) #63 SOD; (S) #245; LS #392 LSB, #345; (C) #403 vv 1, 4

Texts: Leviticus 19:9-18; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37

Theme: “Love Knows No Limit!” (Luke 10:25-37)

Question: “To whom do you express love?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise (Luke 10:36-37).


Beautiful people of God, I once saw A Peanuts cartoon showing Lucy standing with her arms folded and a stern expression on her face. Charlie Brown pleads, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” Lucy angrily whirls around and knocks Charlie Brown to the ground. She screams at him, “Look, Blockhead, the world I love. Its people I can’t stand!”

I’m sure we all feel that way from time to time, and some of us feel that way most of the time. Maybe you feel that way right now. Loving the world in general isn’t that difficult; loving the people around us can be a major challenge. Yet, the Gospel account before us today challenges us to look with different eyes at the people around us. In this story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus bluntly and boldly tells us that in order for us to be like Him, our compassion should flow and our love should have no limits.

But how challenging is that for us saints in Christ? To be truthful, we do not always love. We do not always reveal the love of Christ in word and deed to others. Oh, yes, we love. But we only love those who reciprocate that love. We don’t love the unlovable. We don’t love the intolerant. We don’t love the obstinate. And we certainly don’t love the people who don’t love us. Even the people closest to you hurt you, like your spouse, family and close friends. When this happens it becomes difficult to demonstrate love even to those dearest to you! PAUSE.

This was evident in a couple of events recently. On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad along with 2 other believers in Jesus Christ were beheaded by Muslims in Syria. And in Egypt on the 6th of July, a Coptic priest, Mina Abud Sharween was shot and killed while walking in El Arish. These people had love only for their own kind—Muslims. These people have not known the love of Jesus. These people have not seen the love of Jesus in action. They have not hungered for His grace and forgiveness. But you have. And Christ asks you, ALL of you, to show His love to the world not to make it a better place, but to make His name known to many so that as we are privileged to do, the Holy Spirit brings about a change in their hearts and lives. The Savior through this Gospel story teaches us that indeed His love to the world knows no limit; but there is in unexpected cost to love.

The unexpected cost to love is demonstrated in this very familiar story we call the “Good Samaritan.” The action of the Samaritan in the story that comes from the lips of our Savior, and Master Teacher, is none other than the Gospel itself! Our Savior, through this story, is conveying to us the supremacy of love and compassion in the New Covenant over the legalism of the Old Covenant which emphasized ritual purity. It was not that God’s Torah, even the Mosaic covenant, was flawed or imperfect, but it was imperfect humans’ interpretation of it, as evidenced in the Jewish Levite and Jewish priest who did not want to get near the bloody half-dead man for fear of being ritually impure. What our Lord Jesus is teaching us through this story, empowered by God’s Spirit, is that God’s pure love in us will not lead us wrong or amiss. Love and compassion is greater than the externally fulfilling the requirements of the Law of God in the Old Testament.

Certainly there is a cost to love. The Samaritan, who was hated by the Jews because he was considered half breed and worthless, demonstrated this love by doing the unthinkable—he had compassion on the one who hated him, cared for him and paid for his hotel stay and any other expenses.

This parable is not about how to take care of the injured. It is not about taking on someone else’s burden. It is not about being a “good” neighbor.” The point of the story is the need for compassion, the need for gut-wrenching identification with another. Becoming a neighbor begins with compassionate identification that ultimately is carried out in love. PAUSE.

Did you know beloved in the Lord that the word “Compassion” in the New Testament is always used in reference to Jesus as He has compassion on people, except in this story of the Samaritan who carries out the unexpected love? But why does Jesus, the Savior and Master Teacher uses this word in this parable? Because, after all, this story is not about the Samaritan but about Jesus Himself; the One who gives the unexpected love.

After the failure of the listeners’ religious leaders the Agent of salvation breaks in from outside. Jesus is talking about himself. The Good Samaritan offers a costly demonstration of unexpected love. He risks his life by transporting a wounded Jew into a Jewish town and spending the night there. The wounded man neither can nor will ever be the same again. The Samaritan demonstrates costly love and Jesus is thereby a part of the meaning of His own passion.

The problem for us though, is that we don’t understand nor have a concept of what God’s love truly is—unconditional, unmerited and unearned. We don’t always treat other brothers and sisters as Christians with the kind of love we have received from God. We pray that the LCMS body and this blessed congregation would be Christ-centered, cross-focused, and loving as Christ loved us.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, to its age, language, time or status. Love knows no end to its trust, no stopping to its giving, no fading to its hope and no emptiness to its fulfilling. Love still stands when all else has fallen. Because love is Christ in action! We behold this love expressed, demonstrated and conveyed in the way the Samaritan showed love to the ones who hated him.

This story exhorts us to show love to others especially the ones who do not love us or believe in the same Savior. Because that is what Jesus has done for us and them. You have heard that you have a loving and compassionate Savior. You have been taught that the God of the universe knows you, loves you, and has rescued you from hopeless anonymity and aimlessness. Jesus took your pain and confusion; He carried the heavy load to the cross, and has His eternal, abundant life in store for you right now!

This is the Cost of Unexpected love demonstrated by Jesus to all people young and old. That is what John in His Gospel has taught: “For God so loved the WORLD…” (3:16).You see, Jesus didn’t die for the few, the proud and the chosen. He died for all. He wants all people—people of every nation, tribe, culture, and language—to be saved. Christ came to earth not just for some but for all. Jesus didn’t preach only to some. He didn’t die for some. He didn’t rise for a select group. Paul writes, “So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law” (Galatians 4:3-5). THAT IS ALL PEOPLE. THAT IS LOVE THAT KNOWS NO LIMITS. PAUSE.

Recently, I heard a story of a young boy and an alligator. The Animal had a hold of him. His father had a hold of the boy’s arms trying to save him. In the hospital the boy was asked to show his scars from the attack. He showed where the alligator had a hold of him. Then he said, “Look at my arms! This is where my Dad gripped me, and would not let go!” On his arms were deep gouges and severe bruises from his Dad keeping hold. That my dear friend is love that knows no limits.

The heavenly Father sent His Son to heal us, anoint us with His Spirit and pay for our salvation with His own precious blood. And because we have tasted this love, we want to do what the Samaritan has done—show compassion and love to others. After all, there are people in this world, and they need to see in us His love. Amen.

Now the peace…


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