The Third Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 652 I Lay My Sins on Jesus 1.24
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #436 The Lord’s My Shepherd 1.33
Rejoicing in Heaven
The Communion Hymn # 190 Christ Is Arisen 1:52
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 350 Jesus the Very Thought of Thee 1:53
KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Third Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having suffered ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh: We beseech Thee graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ; and quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may abide in Thy word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Thy Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end Amen.
Rejoicing in Heaven
“This chapter and the next one are Luke’s two immortal parable chapters which are filled (with the exception of one brief section) with parables, none of which have found a place in the other Gospels, the entire group being arranged in an obviously natural order, in the order in which Jesus spoke them.”
“Luke 15” – when we hear that chapter mentioned, we should immediately think of the three parables in a row, each one showing us how God reaches us, how God acts alone, how God shows us His lovingkindness.
If we ever doubt God’s mercy and forgiveness, Luke 15 answers those doubts in three specific ways. The Gospel for today offers two. As Lenski say, these are doubtless in the order they were given. One follows the other naturally.
I think of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin as the introductions for the Prodigal Son. The Lost Sheep engages the men, because it was their job to find the wandering sheep and rescue them. The Lost Coin involves women, because everyone has cleaned up an entire house looking for one lost item.
“Luke again offers only enough information to indicate how Jesus was prompted to utter the following parables. The time, the place, and the other circumstances are immaterial. Once before, in 5:30, the same class of men raised the same objection. See 3:12 on the publicans; the ἁμαρτωλοί (obvious or open sinners) were classed with them, being notorious sinners of various kinds in a society that was very different from ours, in which the Pharisaic, ostentatious type of holiness dominated the public and by contrast made men like these tax collectors, etc., practically outcasts.
One of the marked features of Jesus’ ministry was the attraction of these outcasts to him. The Pharisees and the scribes only scorned and damned them, but the holy Jesus had a way of salvation open for them, one that, indeed, condemned their sins in no uncertain terms but at the same time opened the divine way of remission for all sins. So they drew near to him in numbers (πάντες - all) and did this continuously at the present time as the periphrastic imperfect states. They kept drinking in his words eagerly, therefore we have the durative present infinitive.”
Only two forms of righteousness can be found in the entire world. One is righteousness from within, which we earn for ourselves. The other is righteousness from outside of us, which we receive through faith in Christ.
All world religions (except the Christian faith) teach righteousness from within, or works righteousness in one form or another. False teachers within Christianity also promote righteousness from within. It is our default attitude and so natural, in the bad sense, that we must be constantly warned against it.
The scribes and Pharisees had those attitudes and they surface again in the visible church.
In contrast, Jesus spoke God’s Word to everyone, showing them that righteousness came from faith in Him. This attracted enormous crowds to Jesus and made the religious leaders jealous. The religious leaders also feared losing their influence on the crowd, their pose of being super-pure examples of righteousness. They made everyone else feel inferior and loaded down with guilt, their only hope being a series of righteousness-earning works of their own. Loading works onto people burdened with sin only makes them feel more hopeless.
In Luther’s words, the only reason for the crucifixion was Jesus’ teaching that righteousness came from outside, from Him, rather than from inside, from works done to merit salvation. That alone caused the fury and the need for revenge among the religious opponents. That also drew the crowds.
Similarly, Luther taught the Gospel and repudiated the works righteousness of the Medieval Church. Everything by Luther was a best-seller all over Europe. The pope’s answer was, “Find him, kill him.” Luther had to be kidnapped and hidden away as if dead to survive the pope’s wrath. Even in 1530, 13 years after the Reformation started, Luther had to avoid the Augsburg gathering to stay alive.
The Lost Sheep
Many people know the characteristics of sheep. As one Lutheran wrote me, “If a sheep found a hole in the fence, the rest of the flock would follow him out that hole and get lost.” In contrast, our dog Sassy will come outside and wander around, but she comes back to the sound of my voice or just shows up at the back door, cooling herself in the shade.
The Bible describes us as sheep – “All we, like sheep, have gone astray.”
KJV Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
In this part of the parable, Jesus puts each person in the role of a shepherd with 100 sheep, 99 safe, one wandering away and lost. This is His way of showing us His role as the Good Shepherd, which is so clearly described in John 10.
KJV John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. 19 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
The response of the Good Shepherd is completely from God, not from the wandering sheep, who is lost and bound to die in its confused state:
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
1. He leaves the safe flock in the desert to find that one lost sheep.
2. He pursues the lost sheep until He finds it.
3. He places the sheep on his shoulders, rejoicing.
4. He invites his friends and neighbors to rejoice with Him.
The Law is all condemnation, but the Gospel is all forgiveness. The false teachers answer the problem of sin with more Law, as indicated by the key words – must, have to, in addition to. Some cleverly blend faith with works, the essential of Roman Catholic salvation: works must be added to faith, and those works are never enough, so plenty of work and suffering is left for Purgatory.
The true Gospel is God’s work alone. God comes to us through the Means of Grace. When we are lost, He pursues us until He finds us. Rather than meet us with even more condemnation, which we already feel, He rejoices. He gathers the invisible Church to rejoice with Him in this one lost sinner who is found again.
Each person can identify with the tender mercies of God because we have all found one of our animals in a pickle, one way or another. We see the fright and confusion. The animal hears our voice and feels calmer. We speak softly and happily, and we rejoice that the animal is safe. We even tell our friends.
How can we not see Jesus as the Good Shepherd when this is taught so clearly and supported by hundreds of Biblical passages? He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep, weak-willed and prone to wander. God does condemn our lack of trust in Him, but He also builds that faith with His repeated forgiveness and guidance. He rejoices in forgiving, which is the nature of God. “God is love.”
And yet this parable is not without the condemnation of the Law, because the scribes and Pharisees are justly condemned for their works-righteousness, which is not unknown today in the church –
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The forgiven sinner knows the mercy of God, while the works-righteous person has no concept of mercy and shows none.
KJV Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
The Lost Coin
The lost coin captures the same concept with another example. Here is some important background, children and adults. Homes were very dark, even in the daytime. In a barter society, cash was valuable. A coin today is just another hunk of metal. We can often find coins under the couch cushions and everywhere else. I just picked up about 60 cents in coins from a parking lot. A coin in Jesus day was quite valuable in comparison, and a candle would not be burnt in the day (or night) unless there was an emergency. The woman has lost one coin out of 10, but makes sure she finds it.
We all lose things and go through files and bookcases looking for the lost objects. This is not simply aimed at women, but it shows the feeling Jesus had for his audience that he would use a male oriented parable and a female oriented one, to include everyone.
The lost coin prompts the woman to do three things:
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
I once vacuumed a car, removing the entire back seat, because a little boy lost the black gun from Darth Vader in the black blackness of a black Fury III with black upholstery and black carpeting. After vacuuming I examined the dust bin of the Kirby and found the gun. We rejoiced.
Recently I have heard of two soothers lost in similar circumstances. One was described on Facebook as a tragedy in three acts.
The happiness and relief of finding the lost object is common to us all, so Jesus reminds us that justification by faith is not the cause for condemnation by God but a reason for heaven and earth to rejoice:
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.