Based on Luke 10:25-37
Like the Jewish lawyer, always wanting to justify ourselves, we often think we can be the Good Samaritan, loving God and neighbor perfectly, thinking we are actually able to “go and do likewise.” Martin Luther rejected this, always understanding this parable not as an exhortation to justify ourselves by keeping the Law, but as a description of Jesus. In a sermon on this parable, Luther wrote:
This Samaritan, of course, is our Lord Jesus Christ himself, who has shown his love toward God and his neighbor. Toward God, in that he was obedient to him, came down from heaven and became man, and thus fulfilled the will of his Father; toward his neighbor, in that he immediately after his baptism began to preach, to do wonders, to heal the sick. And in short, he did no work that centered in himself alone, but all his acts centered in his neighbor. And this he did with all his powers, and thus he became our servant, who could have well remained in heaven and been equal to God, Phil. 2:6. But all this he did because he knew that this pleased God and was his Father’s will. This is the Samaritan who came uninvited, and fulfilled the law with his whole heart. For only he fulfilled the law, and no one can deprive him of this honor. He alone merits it, and well maintains it all alone. But Christ, the true Samaritan, takes the poor man to himself as his own, goes to him and does not require the helpless one to come to him; for here is no merit but pure grace and mercy; and he binds up his wounds, cares for him and pours in oil and wine, this is the whole Gospel from beginning to end.
This Holy Week, let us focus only on Jesus, our Good Samaritan. Let us lay aside thoughts of our own goodness, righteousness, or striving and see Jesus and Jesus only.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being our Good Samaritan — for giving your life for us. Amen.
Holy Week response: Tell a family member, friend or acquaintance about your Good Samaritan.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 22:1–12
22:1 The residents of Jerusalem made his youngest son Ahaziah king in his place, for the raiding party that invaded the camp with the Arabs had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram became king of Judah. 2Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king and he reigned for one year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri. 3He followed in the footsteps of Ahab’s dynasty, for his mother gave him evil advice. 4He did evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab’s dynasty because, after his father’s death, they gave him advice that led to his destruction. 5He followed their advice and joined Ahab’s son King Joram of Israel in a battle against King Hazael of Syria at Ramoth Gilead in which the Syrians defeated Joram. 6Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds he received from the Syrians in Ramah when he fought against King Hazael of Syria. Ahaziah son of King Jehoram of Judah went down to visit Joram son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he had been wounded.
7God brought about Ahaziah’s downfall through his visit to Joram. When Ahaziah arrived, he went out with Joram to meet Jehu son of Nimshi, whom the Lord had commissioned to wipe out Ahab’s family. 8While Jehu was dishing out punishment to Ahab’s family, he discovered the officials of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s relatives who were serving Ahaziah and killed them. 9He looked for Ahaziah, who was captured while hiding in Samaria. They brought him to Jehu and then executed him. They did give him a burial, for they reasoned, “He is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the Lord with his whole heart.” There was no one in Ahaziah’s family strong enough to rule in his place.
10When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she was determined to destroy the entire royal line of Judah. 11So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s son Joash and stole him away from the rest of the royal descendants who were to be executed. She hid him and his nurse in the room where the bed covers were stored. So Jehoshabeath the daughter of King Jehoram, wife of Jehoiada the priest and sister of Ahaziah, hid him from Athaliah so she could not execute him. 12He remained in hiding in God’s temple for six years, while Athaliah was ruling over the land.(NET Bible)
91:1 As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the Most High,
and resides in the protective shadow of the Sovereign One –
2I say this about the Lord, my shelter and my stronghold,
my God in whom I trust –
3he will certainly rescue you from the snare of the hunter
and from the destructive plague.
4He will shelter you with his wings;
you will find safety under his wings.
His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall.
5You need not fear the terrors of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
6the plague that stalks in the darkness,
or the disease that ravages at noon.
7Though a thousand may fall beside you,
and a multitude on your right side,
it will not reach you.
8Certainly you will see it with your very own eyes –
you will see the wicked paid back.
9For you have taken refuge in the Lord,
my shelter, the Most High.
10No harm will overtake you;
no illness will come near your home.
11For he will order his angels
to protect you in all you do.
12They will lift you up in their hands,
so you will not slip and fall on a stone.
13You will subdue a lion and a snake;
you will trample underfoot a young lion and a serpent.
14The Lord says,
“Because he is devoted to me, I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he is loyal to me.
15When he calls out to me, I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble;
I will rescue him and bring him honor.
16I will satisfy him with long life,
and will let him see my salvation.(NET Bible)
10:25 Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” 27The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
29But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. 32So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. 34He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring olive oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ 36Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
On Good Friday, March 29 of the same year, Luther had completed his well-deserved coarse answer to Emser. Here he called the Holy Ghost the most lucid writer and speaker whose writings do not need the help of church and tradition in order to be under-stood correctly if they are only taken in their literal sense. (18–19)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.