The Third Sunday after Trinity
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #292 Lord Jesus Christ 1.2
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 1 Peter 5:6-11
The Gospel Luke 15:1-10
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
God Pursues the Lost
The Hymn #339 All Hail the Power 1.57
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 #9 O Day of Rest 1.89
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.
God Pursues the Lost
This Gospel passage is famous by itself, and it is also the introduction to the Prodigal Son. So we have three easy-to-remember examples in a cluster:
The first is the lost sheep. Any farmer could identify with that one.
The second is the lost coin. Any woman could place herself in that story.
The third is the lost, prodigal son. Any person could see himself as the Prodigal Son, perhaps as the elder brother. And it reveals to us the nature of our loving heavenly Father, who rejoices in what is found.
We have tender feelings toward our animals. They depend on us, showing us love and affection, especially when they are hungry. They get themselves into trouble in various ways.
The Bible is lavish in comparing our relationship to Christ as that of the Good Shepherd (John 10) caring for the sheep. We are the sheep (Isaiah 53) who have gone astray, and He is the sacrificial, spotless Lamb who has paid the price for our sins. He is both Passover Lamb and the Good Shepherd.
Sheep easily get into trouble. If one heads into the corner of the pen, all the others will line up and crowd into that corner and stay there for a while. We knew a family with a sheep farm, and the son showed us that tendency. Once they were all lined up and pressing into the corner, I tried to get the crowd broken up. The farms kids laughed. They said, “You can’t change their minds right now. Later they will break up.” I could picture four parents saying, “Who did that to the sheep?” But later, they milled around as usual. It was easy to imagine them following each other off a cliff.
We all know animals that can take care of themselves fairly well. I heard about cats that live in luxury in a house, with loving owners. The cats have also tunneled under the fence where a supermarket of mice and other creatures live in a field. It’s hard to imagine a cat being totally dependent, since so many can live on their own if they have to.
Luther had the greatest comparison to remind us of our relationship to Christ, and this little story reminds us of it – He is as anxious for us as we are for Him.
Jesus was accused of welcoming sinners and eating with them. This accusation came in various ways from the Scribes and Pharisees. We should remember that this was historically true but also a hint at problems to come in the visible church.
Jesus attracted huge crowds because they heard and saw something completely different. He spoke with divine authority. He confirmed His divinity with miracles. And He taught that forgiveness came from Him, not from the works we do ourselves.
Those who had no hope for forgiveness from the Scribes and Pharisees were drawn to Jesus. They were open sinners. In other words, everyone knew they were scoundrels. Jesus said, “Righteousness comes from Me, not from your works.” That enraged everyone who trusted in his own goodness, so they hated Jesus and sought to accuse Him this way and that way.
The Lost Sheep addresses God’s attitude toward sinners. Jesus addressed the critics by asking them a question. Who among you would not leave his 99 sheep to look for the lost one?
That would be hard to answer with “I would!”
Now the entire audience is viewing the question of Jesus befriending the sinners in a different way. But there are more details.
Any herd owner search for that sheep until he is found.
Notice how the Enthusiasts turn this around? They want everyone to identify with this parable but they get the basic message wrong. The 99 do not search the woods, the ravines, and the ditches to find their lost companion. The Shepherd does.
How does God pursue the lost? He provides many different ways for people to hear about His gracious love, His mercy, and His forgiveness. Throughout the Scriptures there are hundreds of statements about His desire to forgive, His efforts to provide a Savior for us all.
We do not just have one Means of Grace, but many, if we count them all up.
If you have ever called for a lost animal, you know about this. They do not answer the first call or come on their own. So God pursues us all with many different Means and always in a way that we can understand and trust in His Promises.
Infant baptism is one way in which God draws people into His Kingdom. It is the surest sign of God’s grace and love. Infants have nothing to offer – no works, no money, no merit. They do have the purest trust in God, which is planted within their hearts by the Gospel. As infant believers, everything they do glorifies God, even when they soil their didies or have green stuff coming out their noses.
Enthusiasts jumped on Luther and said, “How can this be? Infants do not have a mature understanding.” Luther responded, “You do, but still you do not believe.”
So Jesus taught repeatedly that we must believe as children to enter the Kingdom. He picked up small children and blessed them to show what He meant. That naturally means that small children, even nursing babies, have faith.
Some are converted as adults, so they are baptized—as Jesus was—because this Sacrament carries with it so many blessings. Are we in His kingdom? We only need to look to our baptism, whether as children or adults.
We have the preaching and teaching of the Gospel as another Means of receiving God’s grace.
Jesus provided, through the apostles, a learned ministry so people would hear the Word of God from men who were well trained in the Scriptures. Jesus taught publicly but also explained more to His apostles. He gathered 500 together before His Ascension and taught them.
Preaching and teaching must be important to God, because that is mostly what Jesus did for three years. He performed miracles to confirm the Word, but most of His time was spent in distributing the Word, like the Parable of the Sower and the Seed.
Holy Communion is another instrument of God’s grace. The hardest work is to focus while listening. Luther commented on how a sermon can fly right past us as we think about other things. One study showed that people think at least 5 times faster than anyone can talk. One distraction can take away an entire audience. I worked for a pastor who had a bat fly above the congregation. No matter what he said, the heads moved around watching that bat. And we think it’s funny when the dog says “Squirrel” in the movie Up. People are just as easily distracted. So Holy Communion gives us the visible Word, which we receive individually. Adult education specialists say, “We should involve the senses in education.” God thought of that a few years ago. It is impossible to ignore what Holy Communion is when we come forward as individuals to receive the body and blood of Christ.
What do Enthusiasts complain about? The Word – they do not trust in the Word alone.
They also rail against the Sacraments. The Enthusiasts do not accept God granting us forgiveness through Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
Lutherans who study with Enthusiasts begin to be embarrassed, so they get rid of the altar and hide the baptismal font.
What happened to the Shepherd leaving ninety and nine in the wilderness, and going after that which is lost, until he find it?
And yet there are more Means of Grace, if we count everything taught in the Book of Concord.
Absolution is definitely God’s instrument, because the announcement of forgiveness to believers is God’s grace.
The mutual consolation of the brothers – that is how people share the Gospel in their daily lives, forgiving and being forgiven.
Ordination is listed as a sacrament once in the Book of Concord. That is naturally part of the preaching and teaching of the Word. Certain men are set aside to preach and teach. Ordination, the laying on of hands, shows that God offers special blessings and responsibilities to those who serve in this capacity.
So Jesus helps us identify with God’s attitude toward us when He says that someone finding a lost sheep will carry it home rejoicing and celebrate with his neighbors. God is far more willing to forgive than we are to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin, in just a few words, once again reveals the attitude of God toward us. If only one item is lost, we search the entire home and engage in massive clean-ups to find it. One of my worst episodes was finding the tickets to Disneyland. I searched everywhere and even began cleaning out the filing cabinets finding them. I was ready to confess, on the day of the trip, that they were completely lost, when I sank into my chair near the computer. My eyes fell on the tickets, two feet away. The happiness was overwhelming.
So there is great rejoicing in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and believes in the Gospel.
"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"
John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, 1934, p. 447. SA, IV, Concordia Triglotta, p. 491. Matthew 18:20.
"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."
The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #54, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417.
"The second argument is that 'God desires all men to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4), and He gave His Son for us men and created man for eternal life. Likewise: All things exist for man, and he himself exists for God that he may enjoy Him, etc. These points and others like them can be refuted as easily as the first one. For these verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10 'everything for the sake of the elect.' For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: 'This is My blood which is poured out for you' and 'for many'He does not say: for all'for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28)
Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 25 p. 375.
"No more splendid work exists than receiving and hearing the Word of God."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 302. Luke 10:38.