From the Word
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Luke 10:30–35, RSV
The man who lies here half dead, wounded and stripped of his clothing, is Adam and all mankind. The murderers are the devils who robbed and wounded us and left us lying prostrate and half dead. We still struggle a little for life; but there lies horse and man, we cannot help ourselves to our feet, and if we were left thus lying we would have to die by reason of our great anguish and lack of nourishment. If the poor wounded man had desired to help himself he would only have done harm to himself and irritated his wounds. Had he remained lying quiet, he would have suffered all the same. This parable pictures us perfectly.
Thus we are when left to ourselves. We are always lost, we may lay hold where we will. Hitherto man has thought out many ways and methods how he might reform his life and get to heaven. One invented this way, another that; therefore there arose the many kinds of orders, the letters of indulgence, and the crusades; but they have only made evil worse. The world is thus finely portrayed in this wounded man; it lies in sins over head and ears and cannot help itself.
But the Samaritan, who is our Lord Jesus Christ, has fulfilled the law and is perfectly healthy and sound. He comes and does more than both priest and Levite. They saw the wounded man lying helpless and half dead, but they could not help that. He who lay there half dead saw it too, but could not improve matters. The dear sainted fathers saw very well that the people lay in their sins over their ears, and felt the anguish of sin, but what could they do to remedy it? But Christ, the true Samaritan, goes to him and does not require the helpless one to come to him; for here is no merit, but pure grace and mercy; he binds up his wounds and pours in oil and wine. This is the whole gospel from beginning to end. Cling firmly to this Samaritan, Christ the Saviour, he will help you, and nothing else in heaven or on earth will.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 341–42.