The following are excerpts from two sermons by Martin Luther that Pastor Grabenhofer translated from their original German. Both sermons are from the 13th Sunday after Trinity.
28. The man who here lies half dead, wounded, beaten and naked, is Adam and all us people. The thieves are the devils who robbed us and wounded us and left us lying half dead. We still fidget a little; but there stand horse and man, we are unable to help ourselves out, and thus where we are left lying, there we must also die in great anguish and languishing. Maggots would grow in our wounds and it would be misery and distress for us.
29. The parable stands powerfully there and skillfully paints for us what we are and are able to do with our great reason and free will. If the poor wounded man would have wanted to help himself, it would only have gotten worse for him; he would have injured himself had he scratched open his wounds and caused misery and distress. If he would have remained lying there it would soon have been like that. Thus it is when we are left to ourselves. It is lost for us if we undertake it how we want to. Until now it was done like this: many paths and ways invented of how we would come to heaven and improve our lives. One found this way, a second another way. Thus so many orders arose, as well as indulgences and pilgrimages, but it all made the evil worse. This is the world; and how it lays in sin above its ears and cannot help itself is finely painted for us in the wounded man…
32. But Christ, the true Samaritan, takes care of this poor as Himself, goes Himself there, does not summon him to Himself—for here is no merit but rather pure grace and mercy—bandages for him his wounds, well cares for them and pours for him oil and wine in them. This is the whole Gospel through and through. He pours in oil when grace is preached, that is, when one says: “See there, you poor man, there is your unbelief, there is your damnation, there you are wounded and unhealthy, stop, I want to heal everything for you with the Gospel. See, keep yourself with this Samaritan, with Christ the Savior, who will help you, as nothing else either in heaven or on earth will. Oil, you well know, softens; thus the sweet, soft preaching of the Gospel, that I gain a fine, gentle, soft heart toward God and the neighbor, thus that I may the life of my body stretch on it for the sake of the Lord Christ and the Gospel, if God and necessity require it.
33. But wine is sharp, and signifies the holy cross which soon follows. A Christian cannot look around for the cross; it is sooner on his neck than he thinks, as Paul, 2 Tim. 3:12, says: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.” That is the court color in this kingdom; whoever will be ashamed of the color, does not belong to this King.
34. Then the Samaritan places the wounded man on his animal. This is now He Himself, the Lord Christ, who carries us; we lay on His shoulders, neck and body. There is hardly a more loving example in the entire Gospel than when the Lord Christ, Luke 15, compares Himself to a shepherd who carries the lost sheep on His shoulders back to the flock. He still carries to the present day.
35. The stable or inn is Christendom here in this world. We must remain here a short time in it. The innkeepers are the preachers of the Word of God and the Gospel who must nurse and attend to us.
36. Thus this is the summary of the Gospel: Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom of mercy and grace where there is nothing else than constant carrying. Christ carries our afflictions and sicknesses, our sins He takes on Himself, and has patience when we err, we still always lie on His neck; yet He never tires of the carrying, which should be the greatest comfort to us when we are stuck in the trial of sin.
37. The preacher in this kingdom should comfort the consciences, deal kindly with them and feed them with the Gospel, carry the weak, heal the sick and should know how to finely divide the word and to present each one what is necessary. This is the office of a proper bishop and preacher; it is not one carried out with force; as our bishops now do who are stuck and complain and cry out: “Aha! Up! Up! Whoever doesn’t want to, must.” This must not be; rather a bishop or preacher positions himself as one who waits on the sick, who treats them gently, gives good words and does it with all diligence for them. Thus shall a bishop or pastor also do and think of nothing than that his bishopric and parish is a hospital and infirmary in which he has many and various sick. When, then, Christ is preached, faith and love meet, which then fulfills the law of love…
[St. Louis ed., vol. XI, pg. 1545.28, 29, 32-1548.37]
38. By making the Samaritan out as the neighbor of the one who had fallen among the robbers, Christ especially wants to show that He Himself is and wants to be the neighbor who rightly fulfills the commandment and show His love toward the poor, miserable conscience and heart of all people which are wounded and ruined before God. And with it also gives the example that His Christians should do the same, as He does, who before the whole world, especially the great saints, His own Jews, was regarded as a Samaritan; and because other people do not do it that they, do the same thing, namely, that they take upon themselves the misery of the poor, forsaken, helpless, and know that what they do for them, they have done to Christ as their neighbor.
39. By this Samaritan Christ now pictures and shows the blessing, help and comfort that He now gives in His kingdom by the Gospel, which is precisely this of which He at first said to the disciples: “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see…” [Lk. 10:23]. He portrays in a most comforting way what faith in Him has, and He has until now amply said how far removed His Gospel is from the doctrine of the Law that the priests and the Levites also have. Yet, let us—who have fallen into sin against God’s commands, lying under God’s wrath, must die eternal death—see in this picture that we are again helped by Him, that we receive God’s grace, comfort and life of conscience and also begin to keep the Law.
40. This is our main article of the doctrine of faith which tells us that we are unable to help ourselves—nor can any work or doctrine of the law. Instead, He must begin it in us; but He does not urge us on with the Law, lest we feel our sin and misery. That belongs to the secure spirits, like these scribes who did not want to be scolded as sinners. Rather, He heartily had mercy on us, to that He is kind and comforting through His word, and even bandages the wounded, lays him upon His own animal, cares for and attends him. For alone by Himself He had to obtain our salvation and for us had to go carrying our sin and misery on His body. He even also announces it to us and gives the comforting word by which we are bandaged and healed.
41. Both wine and oil poured into the wounds is good medicine to the wounded. Wine keeps the flesh clean and fresh so that the wounds do not putrefy and fester. Balsam, which is the noblest and costliest oil and above all things beneficial for all kinds of injuries, is especially granted to the Jewish land. This is the preaching of the holy Gospel, which both parts do: it keeps the penitent conscience in the knowledge of its sin and weakness so that it does not become secure nor cease desiring grace; and at the same time grace and forgiveness comfort it and thus also always improves the person until he is again healthy and then again begins to do a healthy work.
42. For this He now also needs the office and service of the Church, which He commanded to look after and to nurse through that office and Spirit, thus He gives and bids her to do with such diligence everything that serves for the strengthening and improvement—comforting, admonishing, urging, rebuking, etc. and says to her that what She does and works in regard to it, He also wants to reward.
43. Behold, this is the doctrine and power of the Gospel, and the treasure from which we are saved. In addition it induces us to also begin to fulfill the Law. Where the great, free love and blessing of Christ is recognized and believed, there also streams forth love both to God and neighbor. Through such knowledge and comfort the Holy Spirit moves the heart that it is kind toward God and also gladly gives Him praise and thanks as it should, guards itself from sin and disobedience, and willingly sacrifices to serve and help everyone. Where it feels weakness in itself, it fights against flesh and devil by invoking God. And so it always keeps itself with Christ in faith; where it does not do enough for itself according to the law, it comforts itself that Christ fulfilled it, and comforts itself that He fulfilled it and gives and imparts to it His fullness and strength, and so He always remains our Righteousness, Redemption, Sanctification.
[St. Louis ed., vol. XI, pg. 1566.38-1568.43]