Summary: This is an invitation to trust in him. This is an exhortation to preach about him.
“Clariza, have you seen my keys?” And then the search begins: under the couch, in the kitchen, in my office, in the laundry. We look like crazy because as always, I am running late. Then I hear those glorious words: “Here they are.” What a relief.
This morning our Savior Jesus Christ is going to tell us two parables: one about a lost sheep and the other about a lost coin. Now, I want you to pay close attention to see how important it was to the shepherd and woman of the parables to find their lost possessions and then how they felt after finding them. We read from Luke chapter 15...
Today we are going to meditate on the following theme that we just sang: Jesus sinners does receive. Jesus sinners does receive. This is an invitation to believe in him. This is an encouragement to preach about him.
I. An invitation to believe in him.
Let’s take a quick quiz:
– Do you know what a pharisee was? They were the religious leaders of the Jews, very “holy” men in the eyes of the people, but also “holier than thou”. Men who trusted in their own works instead of the God’s mercy. Men who wouldn’t except the fact that they needed a Savior.
– Why were tax collectors considered sinners? Because they had betrayed their own people to work for the Romans. They were almost always corrupt and thieves.
– What is a parable? An earthly story with a heavenly meaning. An illustration to teach us about God and his kingdom.
OK. Very good...
Now the pharisees, in order to keep themselves pure and holy in the eyes of the people, never went near a tax collector, prostitute or any other “sinner”. So the fact that Jesus talked with them, ate with them and even stayed in their homes was more than they could take. In our text for this morning, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time to die for all people on the cross. And along the way, some tax collectors and “sinners” come up to talk to him... And well, after three long years of the same thing, the pharisees had had enough. They muttered: “How can this supposedly holy man hang out with the dregs of society?”
So Jesus tells them the two parables of our text. In the first, a shepherd who had 100 sheep loses one. Now, that one sheep was so important to him that he left behind the other 99 in the open country to go and find it. And when he found it, he was so happy that he invited all his friends and neighbors to celebrate with him.
The other parable is about a woman who had 10 silver coins. These coins were dracmas, Greek coins worth about a day’s wages. When this woman lost one of her coins, she looked throughout the house, just like we do when we lose our keys or wallets. And when she found the coin, she was so happy that she invited all her friends and neighbors over to the house to celebrate.
And Jesus tells us the point of these two illustrations. “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent... There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Jesus sinners does receive. In fact, Jesus joyfully receives sinners. He throws a party in heaven every time one sinner repents and comes to believe in him. He did not come into this world to save the righteous, but the sinners. And that’s good, because that means that he will accept even us.
We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of the pharisees from our text. We need Jesus. We are all born lost in sin, but Christ searched us out in our baptism and made us his dear children. And they threw a party in heaven.
We all have gone through periods in our lives when we have become lazy in our faith or even lost it. But through his Gospel, Jesus has sought us out and brought us back to the flock. And they threw a party in heaven.
Even though we attend church, even though we are Christians, we still lie, get angry, worry, talk bad about others, all kinds of other junk. But Christ through his Word calls us to repent and trust in him. He joyfully receives us sinners. And each time, they throw a party in heaven.
Paul tells us in our second reading for this morning: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” But Paul was the greatest missionary of all time. He suffered imprisonment, insults, whippings and death instead of denying his Savior. He’s got to be exaggerating a little, doesn’t he?