In Nomine Iesu!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Prayer in Pulpit before Sermon:
O Gracious Lord Jesus Christ, Who camest into the world to seek and to save that which was lost, and art not ashamed of the company of sinners, we thank Thee for Thy goodness, and beseech Thee, grant that we may daily be found walking in sincere repentance, and there be joy in Heaven over every sinner that repenteth; for Thy Name’s sake, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior + Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Pharisees and scribes were indignant that the Lord + Jesus received sinners and ate with them. They had forgotten one important thing: they also were sinners. They were sinners for no one can keep the Law of God perfectly. Even with all of their so-called “good works” the Pharisees and scribes were just as sinful as those upon whom they looked down their noses. Indeed, they were even a greater kind of sinner, for they did not regard themselves as sinners at all. They viewed themselves as good and holy. They trusted in their works, and held them up before the Lord God. These good works the Lord God did not accept or even want. The Lord God did not want the filthy rags of the scribes and Pharisees. He does not want our miserable, dirty-rag works, either.
The Pharisees and scribes forgot that they were descended from Adam and Eve. Their first parents, and our first parents, disobeyed the Lord God in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit which they were not permitted to eat. Ever since then, all of Adam and Eve’s children, all of mankind, is full of sin. No distinction can be made between one person and another based upon sin. We have all inherited original sin from our first parents. A distinction can be made, however, based upon repentance.
Some sinners do not repent of their sins. They do not consider themselves to be sinners. They only see the good things that they do. They may even believe that they are not that bad of a person. Of course, they can only determine this by comparing themselves to other people. It is too often in our estimation of other people that we are the better person. This is how it is with these people. If someone does not consider themselves to be sinner—if he cannot see his sin—there can be no repentance in him, and therefore, there can be no salvation.
Repentance, as we learn in the Small Catechism, is made up of two parts: first, that we are sorrow for our sins. This is called contrition. When we acknowledge the sinfulness in us; when we confess that we are indeed poor, miserable sinners, and that all of our good works are not going to earn us salvation, we are contrite, that is, we have sorrow over our sins and wish to amend our sinful ways. The second part of repentance is faith. Faith clings always to something outside of itself. People can certainly put their faith in many things, and many people often do. We, as poor, miserable sinners, are also prone to putting our faith in many different things. Faith is always directed at the thing outside of ourselves from which we expect comfort, help and protection. We can wrongly place our faith in many earthly things, just as the unbelieving world does. Our family, our jobs, our social status, our spouses, our children, and even our money can all receive our faith. This is what sinners tend to do.
When we place our trust in such things, we become lost. We become no different than the scribes and Pharisees who put their trust in their works. We are no different than the unrepentant of this world, who look to every false god for help and comfort. For like them we have also been descended from our first parents Adam and Eve. We all have inherited the corruption of sin. This is also why we will remain lost until someone seeks us out and brings us back into the fold. This is why our Lord + Jesus came down from Heaven to be one of us. He came to seek and save those who were lost. He came to receive sinners and eat with them.
These sinners are the second group of sinners, unlike the scribes and Pharisees and the unrepentant sinners of this world today. These sinners have indeed placed their faith in many different false gods, and have found them all lacking. We turn in faith to the works and merits of the Christ. We turn away from our own works, because we see how futile such works are. We turn to the Christ because we know that salvation is found in Him alone. Our faith clings to the promises found in our Lord + Jesus.
Our Lord tells us two parables today from the Evangelist St. Luke. In the parable of the lost sheep, it is our Lord + Jesus Who goes into the wilderness—this sinful world—to find those who are lost. There is only one sheep, for we are all one body, even as we eat of one bread and drink of one cup. This one sheep is all those who are in the Church; who cling in faith to their Lord and Shepherd. This sheep, this one sheep, is lifted up upon the shoulders of the Christ. The one sheep that strayed through the sin of Adam, is placed upon the shoulders of the Lord and Savior, Christ. On the tree of the cross He lifted us up upon His shoulders. On the cross He bore us and our sins. He paid the penalty of our sins, so that we would no longer be lost. He paid the penalty of the sins of the whole world—He atoned—for the sins of the whole world. Now all those who believe on Him—who forsake their false gods and their false works—will have everlasting life. The angels of Heaven rejoice over this one sheep who clings in faith to its Savior + Jesus Christ.
Because our Lord and Savior + Jesus Christ came and found the lost sheep—because He found the sheep who is under one faith, and eat one bread and drink one cup and carried us upon His shoulders to His holy Church—the woman in the second parable was also established so that she might sweep the whole house of the world to seek the valuable silver coin that was lost. The Church, the woman in the second parable sweeps the world looking for the silver coin through the means of grace. We seek the lost silver coin through the pure preaching of the Gospel, and the right administration of the Blessed Sacraments. The Church rejoices—we rejoice—when the silver coin is found; when the sinner turns from his sin, and in repentance clings in faith to the Lord + Jesus.
Our Lord tells a third parable to the scribes and Pharisees on account of their complaining that He received sinners and ate with them which is not a part of our Propers for today. In that parable we hear about the Father who receives His prodigal—that is, wasteful—son. Therefore, my dear friends, in these three parables we have the Christ, the Church, and the Father all carrying, seeking, and receiving sinners and eating with them. In all three parables a feast was prepared. During this feast the angels of Heaven rejoiced over the one sinner who repented; who was sorry for his sins and clung in faith to the one and only source of salvation, the Lord + Jesus, the Christ.
We poor, miserable sinners have also had our sins lifted up by the Christ on the tree of the holy cross; our sins have been atoned for. The Church has also sought us through the pure preaching of the Gospel, and the right administration of the Sacraments. The Father has also received us back into His house, and clothed us with the righteousness of the Christ through the washing and renewal of the Holy Ghost through the waters of Holy Baptism. We now enjoy a feast in this house. We join with the whole Church on Earth and Heaven in eating and drinking this meal of our Lord’s Body and Blood given in bread and wine. In this meal we remember and proclaim that our Lord + Jesus carried us and our sins on the tree of the holy cross. We remember and proclaim that the Church has swept the world to find us and bring us into this house to rejoice together in this meal that we have been found. And we remember and proclaim that our heavenly Father has washed us in the Blood of the Lamb.
Therefore, my dear friends, the angels of Heaven rejoice over us poor, miserable sinners every day we live in repentance. The angels in Heaven sing praises to the Lord God every day we confess our sins, and cling in faith to the works and merits of the Christ. For in Him alone is our salvation. He has come down from Heaven to find us and carry us back into the sheepfold of the Church. He has come to us to receive us poor sinners, and to eat with us the meal of His Body and Blood given in bread and wine, so that we might rejoice with the saints and angels of Heaven that we have forgiveness of all our sins, and will one day enjoy eternal life with all those whom our Lord + Jesus Christ has saved by His precious death, burial, and resurrection. Thanks be to God! In the Name of our Lord + Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer in Pulpit after Sermon:
Almighty God, be pleased to accompany Thy Word with Thy Holy Spirit and grant that Thy Word would increase faith in us; bring into the Way of Truth all such as have erred; turn the hearts of the unrepentant; and for sake of Thy Name grant succor to all heavy hearts and those who are heavy-laden, that they may through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ be relieved and preserved so that they succumb not to the temptation of despair but rather that they gain the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with the Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria!