Thanksgiving November 22, 2023
“How About Some Good News?” Luke 10:25-37
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
About a month ago I was listening to an economist speaking about our current economic outlook. He felt that we are in a better place than we were 6 months or a year ago. The indicators, he felt, were trending in a positive way. He looked at 2024 with optimism.
But then he added a word of caution. He mentioned that there is a negative attitude in the minds of many Americans and many across the world. He said the problem was not so much with the economy but with everything else that is happening in the world. The wars that rage in the Middle East and in the Ukraine cause concern. When Washington seems to have more than its share of troubles it rubs off on how people view other things. Issues such as homelessness, violence, border security and addictions to drugs or alcohol will influence how people think about the economy.
There is a lot of news out there. And some of it is quite disturbing. Within a few months we will be in a campaign to elect a President for our country. You had better be ready. Negative attack ads have already been written and filmed and we’ll be seeing them soon.
I guess I’m tired of bad news. I’m tired of people doing bad things to each other. I’m tired of people having no regard for God and the ways that He wants us to live.
I’m ready for some good news. You know the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It starts off with some pretty bad news. A man is traveling from the road from Jerusalem, that sits on top of a mountain, and he is heading toward Jericho, a town that is below sea level. The way from one place to another is windy, has quite a few switchbacks and is a haven for thieves. Around every curve you don’t know what you may face. No one should travel the road alone.
But one man did and the thieves did a job on him. They came out of the bushes and surprised him. There were more of them than he could handle. They beat him up, bloodied him, took everything that he had on him and left him for dead. Who could do that? Who could ever look themselves in a mirror after such actions? Bad news.
But he wasn’t dead. Yet. If he could get some help – if someone would show some kindness he might have a chance for life. But two different guys committed the same sin. It is called the sin of omission. As James writes, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17) James also gives the picture, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16)
Two men, a Priest and a Levite, both religious men, did nothing for this man. They ignored him. I guess he was invisible to them. They didn’t want to get involved. They saw him and made sure they stayed far away from him and his problems. More bad news.
But then the good news came. It came in the form of a person. “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 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.’” (Luke 10:33-35)
Good news came from the least likely source. It came from a Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans and Samaritans hated Jews. They were told that is how it had to be. And their parents before them heard that same curse from their parents. And on and on and on. “A Good Samaritan?” Those two words would never be uttered in the same sentence by a Jew.
Do you want some good news? Sometimes you are the person who has been beat up and left for dead. Sometimes you are the person who has been forgotten by others. You’re pretty darn sure that you are invisible to the rest of the world. You’re going to have to repair the unrepairable alone. But then God sends someone to you. You aren’t alone. You aren’t forgotten. You’re not going to have to fight the fight with your own two hands.
And this compassion and kindness comes from someone you may never expect. They go well beyond simply doing the minimum. They bandage the wounds and then do even more. “Look after him and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” They have been sent to share your problem. Good news.
Here is more good news. Maybe you’re not the one who is injured but you are the person who comes upon the one so deeply hurt. God places someone in your life who needs you. They need your listening ear, your helping hand, your embracing hug. They might even need your pick-up to help them move some stuff to their new place!!
Have you ever wondered why God put some folks in your life? You may have little in common with them. You might be as different as night and day but there both of you are. You’re in their life and they are in yours. Mere coincidence? How about Divine Providence? That Good Samaritan didn’t know who he was going to run into when he turned the corner, but God introduced one person to another. When that occurred neither of their lives were ever the same. As Jesus spoke, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
Thanksgiving should be the time of good news. We thank God for the people in our lives, for the blessings of health, the abilities He has bestowed upon us, and of course the joy of being able to sit in front of the TV for 9 straight hours watching football games. God is so good!!
When I read this parable I believe the good news is this – Jesus is the Good Samaritan. You and I are the severely injured man by the side of the road. We are in a mess. And the problem isn’t just our body but our soul. We are burdened by our sin. We have remorse over choices we have made. We have injured others and self and God. We know that we are a long way from the wonderful design that God has placed upon our lives.
But Jesus stops at the point of our need and attends to us. He provides His word that we take into our soul, He gives us abundant love and favor, He takes us to a place of safety. Can you see it? Have you seen it over and over in your life? Jesus is the Good Samaritan and He comes to you at the right moment – in the time of your greatest need.
On this Thanksgiving thank God that Jesus didn’t look past you but He knows your name. Your body and mind and soul are made whole by the death of Jesus. That Good Samaritan went into his own pocket to pay for that man to stay in the inn. Our Good Samaritan? Out of His own pocket, as well. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (I Peter 1:18-21)
Today listen to the Good News. When you are in the worst place God gives you others who truly love you. When others are in their worst place God uses you to bring light into their dark. And we all have Jesus who spared nothing in order for us to know the full and eternal love of God. That is Good News. Amen!!