Sermon for The 13th Sunday after Trinity

What Do You Do With the Law?

After defining love and defining neighbor, Jesus says, “Do this, and you will live.”

What do you do with the Law?  Every religion, including those people religion that claims no religion, must answer this question.  Every person must answer this question: what do I do with the Law?  What do I do with Jesus’ command, “Do this, and live.”

Rather than abstractly answering this, answer it like this: what can you do with the Law?  There you are, minding your own business in dingy, old car, going with the flow of the traffic, and you see it — bright, flashy, red and blue lights — you see it — the Law.

“What are you doing?  Do you know how fast you were going?”

Now you can reply to the Law in a number of ways.  You can excuse it.  “I was in a hurry.  I’ve got to get home before Matlock comes in.”

You can seek to justify yourself with the Law by comparing yourself with others.  “I was just going the speed everyone else was.  I even got passed by a 1986 Chevy Nova.”

You can appeal to generalities.  “I normally don’t speed, officer.  You caught me on this rare, unique, occasion.”

There’s probably more than 1,000 other ways to respond, because there is little that we are more practiced at than seeking to justify our mistakes and our sins.  There is little that we are better at than excusing ourselves.

One of the final things that you could do is the most dangerous one, with the Law of North Carolina and the Law of God, and that is ignore it.  You can see the lights and just keep going and hope that he gives up or runs out of gas before you do.  But you cannot outrun the Law.  You cannot ignore the Law.  It will only add more transgression upon your transgressions.

And the response to each of these, each of these excuses, each of these ways we seek to justify ourselves could be this: “I don’t care.  What were you doing?  Did you break the Law or not?”

“That guy treats me like dirt.  He’s a jerk.  He spreads rumors about me all the time.”  No, did you love him as you love yourself?  Did you forgive him even when he didn’t ask?  Did you stop rumors about him or did you start them?  Or just encourage them?  Who’s the selfish jerk?

“My life is full of reasons to be worried and anxious.”  No, do you love God enough to know and firmly trust that He will provide, that He knows better than you do?

“I was only looking at her.  Look what’s she wearing, she wants me to look.”  No, is she your wife?  Are you looking at her knowing that she is someone’s daughter?  Are you looking at her knowing that she is a body for whom Christ died for?

“I’m a pretty good person, most of the time.”  No, did you break the God’s Law or not?

What do you do with the Law?  The more important question is, “What does God’s Law do to you?”

It kills you.  It kills any thoughts of an excuse.  It shuts your mouth.  “For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin”

You’ve been caught, in every way.  There are no secrets.  You have been caught, and you have been tried, and the Law convict you, and throws you into prison.

You’re appeal is to the Judge.  So we better know who this Judge is.

He is the Good Samaritan.  He is the One who sees us lying on the side of the road, beaten and robbed by the devil and his lies, beaten and robbed by our sinful desires, and we are dying, and we know it – and nothing we can do can help us.  Our sin overwhelms us and our guilt from the past and the present rises up to claim us.

And then comes Jesus.  He is the Good Samaritan.  He sees us in our need and has every right, without having an excuse, to walk on by, but instead He comes to us and tends to our wounds.  He pours on His Holy Gospel, soothing our pain and bringing relief.  You are forgiven, dear saint, God is gracious and at peace with you.  He pours in the wine, the blood of His grace, to disinfect your open wounds and begin to heal you.  He lays on his donkey, that is, dear saints, He has brought you here, to His church, to give you His Word, to bring you comfort.  And he pays for our health.  Not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.

This is your Judge.  He is the one who loves His neighbor more than Himself.  He became your neighbor, became man, to love you to the end.  And don’t think that you’re that neighbor that He would be lucky to move next to, with beautiful flowers, and pristine yard, and you make cookies for Him every week.

We’re more like the neighbor whose yard is full of weeds, and from whose house you can hear the arguments and the yelling, and whom the police check in on just to make sure we’re not up to no good.

And He does, He becomes your neighbor, just to make sure you have Him as your neighbor now and forever, so that He can love you.

What do you do with the Law?  What do you mean, Jesus says, “It is finished.”  You have your healing.  You are alive.  He shows mercy.  “You go, and do likewise.”  Amen.


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