Sunday, July 10, 2011
The Third Sunday after Trinity, 2011
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
Gracious Lost and Found
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.
Gracious Lost and Found
These two parables introduce the Prodigal Son. Four of the most comforting passages include these three parables and the Good Samaritan. (The Good Samaritan has been turned into a works-sermon by the law salesmen, but just the opposite is true.)
One of the best ways to read any given text in the Bible is to study the beginning and what follows. Although many sections stand on their own, as intended in the readings of the early Church, the context means a lot. I doubt whether people were so impatient then as they are now. A Gospel may be read out loud in two hours or so (Mark serving as a Broadway play).
Written manuscripts had great value because they were rare and expensive. That alone would make people treasure the written Word of God the way people treasure collectibles today.
For a time I followed the world of book collecting. First editions are rather rare, since no one knows if a book will sell. Moby Dick did not sell well, so the publisher did not replace the ones burned up in a warehouse fire. Demand makes a price go up even more. One Twain book was yanked and altered, so the very first printing, which I held in my hands, was worth $40,000. But the first Harry Potter was worth $160,000 – kept locked in a safe.
We should treasure the Word of God far more than ordinary books.
There is another parallel. First editions are almost always cheap editions, because little is expected in that gambling game called publishing. A row of first editions in a book store looks like a bookshelf in a Salvation Army store. The covers are rather ordinary and the slipcovers a bit worn.
Because the Word of God seems so ordinary to many, they overlook its value and pass it by, in favor of the latest soap opera novel or sports bio.
We should not pass by these two parables, since they emphasize the essential nature of the Gospel – Jesus welcomes sinners.
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.
Here we have two groups of people. One group consists of the tax collectors (publicans) and the blatant carnal sinners. The term used does not mean sinner in the sense that everyone is a sinner, but someone so obviously engage in carnal behavior that no one can miss it. They know they have no righteousness in them.
The second group consists of Pharisees and scribes, holy and pious men who are good examples to everyone. They are models of rectitude, good citizens, and devout in all their religious practices. They trust in their own righteousness. They really belong with the angels in heaven, as Luther said, and not here on earth with blatant, carnal sinners.
These two parables are meant to comfort all sinners and to disturb those who trust in their own righteousness. Both examples are best understood by those who feel crushed by their sin and suffer from the terrors of the conscience.
That does not mean that these parables are only for hookers, gamblers, and drunks, but also for those who feel the weight of sin for whatever reason, or are weighted down by depression. Those who grew up in an atmosphere of accusation, criticism, and verbal abuse often suffer terribly from an overly-sensitive conscience, from never hearing comfort or love from parents.
I was sitting with a successful salesman, who was suffering. He spoke a few minutes, and I said, “Your father was a big success, but he was very critical of you, wasn’t he?” That diagnosis hit the switch and he responded immediately. His father was far too strict and demanding, far too careful about expressions of love and concern. In such cases, the comfort of Gospel is there but seems blocked by a wall of experience, as if God is saying, “This is not for you, because you are not good enough yet.”
Those who suffer emotionally are often as despised as some poor tramp parked on a bench in the park.
We can hear the sharp tongues of the Scribes and Pharisees, murmuring among themselves that Jesus not only associated with open, carnal sinners, but even sat down to dine with them – the ultimate compliment. What happened to the shunning so carefully taught in Pharisaic Judaism?
Shunning is still the main practice today. People make sure that they are no friends with anyone on the outs with the elite. All it takes is one word or question and the steel door of shunning is activated. Former friends show discomfort when a friendly hello is said. Emails stop. Unfriending on Facebook begins. Suddenly people ask, abruptly, “Why are you being so….?” One man was leaving his synod. A famous Lutheran seminary professor gave him the finger, in front of other students. When the exile returned, a group of people were suddenly friendly again.
The Mennonites did not invent this, but they brought its practice to a new, low level. The Left practices it ruthlessly, but so does the Syn Conference. Self-righteousness is phony comfort – and only lasts a few years.
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?
Jesus knew what was in their hearts, so he rebuked them with a clear, obvious example. This kind of teaching can have two opposite effects. Someone who reads them as a works-promoting Pharisee will be offended and dismiss them. Someone who needs the comfort of the Gospel will dwell on their meaning and apply them.
The Gospel of forgiveness is healing and strengthening. When the doctor showed that I had high blood pressure, I received a sample of the medicine to treat it. The medicine tells the heart to stop working so hard. I took one pill with water and immediately felt the effect. It was almost instant.
With many medicines we forget to take the entire dose over a period of time. Antibiotics are like that. People start the regimen, feel better, and forget the stronger germs are just waiting for their moment to rebound. They do and the individual is twice as sick as before.
Obviously blood pressure medicine is needed every single day. Someone can skip a day or reduce the dose, but there is a lot of risk behind such denial.
The Gospel is a daily medicine. We remains sinners in need of it and will always be sinners as long as we are on this earth, but the Gospel Promises keep granting us forgiveness, received in faith, based upon the Atonement of Christ.
Jesus gave an example to stop the mouths of the Scribes and Pharisees. No one can refute the earthly example. We are attached to the animals we own and the pets we have. No matter how short-lived they are, and their less than perfect behavior, we worry about them. Precious has never adjusted to domestic life. She is a jittery Shetland sheepdog who will jump at the sound of paper rustling. She was in trouble for not going outdoors, and she displayed guilt for her behavior. Later, she got up on the bed and cuddled during a Columbo movie. It’s difficult to stay unhappy with rescue pets, when we look at their past. No one wanted Precious or Treasure, but they have given us lots of affection and laughter. Sassy is a legend in two areas (Phoenix and NW Arkansas) because of her intelligence, personality, and skills.
How many shepherds would stay with their 99 sheep when one is lost and in peril? Jesus knew the answer to that. A shepherd would leave his flock with a companion and go out to seek the lost sheep.
A sheep by itself will find itself surrounded by predators and difficult land to cross. Where is the water and the food? Soon it will be food for others.
The best touch of this narrative is the concise description of finding the sheep.
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.
He does not lead it home, but carries it home on his shoulders. Likewise, God does not drive us to the pastures where we belong, using a whip or a staff, but carries us in His love. Those good things which happen are the result of His Word and His will, not our great skills and talents.
In addition, the shepherd with the lost sheep invites his friends and neighbors to join him in the celebration. “Rejoice with me.” No word is said about the weakness or foolishness of the sheep. Everyone knows what they are like.
So Isaiah said, “All we, like sheep, have gone astray, each to his own way.”
But there is a second conclusion to this story, in case people miss the impact of the example given. Jesus Himself applied the Word, which we must grasp and keep close to us in our understanding of the Gospel Promises:
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.
Jesus is quite emphatic in saying that heaven rejoices more over a repentant sinner than over 99 righteous who do not need to repent. This is satire, because the Pharisees and Scribes are the worst sinners, sinning in their hearts for condemning Jesus and the open, carnal sinners. Doubtless the carnal sinners were filled with peace and comfort from believing in Christ and receiving His forgiveness, which did not mean Go and sin some more, but Go and sin no more.
The righteous (in their own minds) do not need to repent, so their hardened hearts do not see or comprehend the Gospel. They may say the words but the meaning is alien to them.
As I said before, the chief benefit of writing for the Net is re-uniting old friends. Some stay way in the background, because the Pharisees watch who associates with me. Others are routinely in touch with me. A little girl turned into a college student (overnight!) and we enjoy seeing that happen.
The true Gospel unites people and it also drives people apart. The Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword. It discerns all our thoughts, so some go by the wayside, content to cling to the familiar falsehoods. Others hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him.
Two advocates of Universal Objective Justification (Glende and Patterson) have excommunicated families for questioning UOJ. The families did what is expected. Hat in hand, they asked if they could please discuss some issues. The leaders avoided discussion. One DP (Englebrecht) even hid from the meeting. So they are left with this question, “If they were forgiven before they were born, why are they NOT forgiven now, for asking about doctrinal issues?”
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 7:15 AM