Summary: A sermon on welcoming back the sinner
The title of my sermon today is “Let us rejoice!” Even though it may be under somewhat different circumstances, rejoicing is a common theme throughout the 15th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. In our gospel reading for today, we read of two different parables that Jesus is telling to the Pharisees. As we know, the Pharisees were criticizing Jesus for mingling with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees were grumbling about this because in their mind, how could someone who claimed to be the Messiah be keeping company with the less desirable among the population? So, in order to explain to them what his intentions are, Jesus tells them a couple of stories.
The first story, which is Luke 15: 4 speaks of the lost sheep. He said that the shepherd had 100 sheep in the field. The shepherd noticed, however, that one of his sheep had wandered away from the flock and had become lost. The shepherd cared so much for that one sheep that he left the other 99 sheep and went out to search for the one that was lost. When the shepherd found his lost sheep, he was so happy that he called his friends and neighbors together and said, “let’s celebrate” or “rejoice with me”, for I have found that which was lost!
Then, we read beginning in verse 8 of a woman who had ten silver coins and she lost one of them. She lit her lamp and started cleaning her house. She swept her floors and searched and searched until she found that coin. Finally, the coin she had searched for so thoroughly is found. Like the shepherd, she calls her friends and family together and says, “rejoice with me” for I have found that which was lost!
These stories are very similar. We can see the similarities on the service, without even digging too deep into the parables. The similarities are that in both cases, the shepherd and the woman had lost something that was important to them and they searched diligently until they found what they were looking for.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. Let’s focus for just a moment on the subjects in the stories, the sheep and the coin.
There are a multitude of differences between a sheep and a coin. For example, a sheep is a living, breathing thing. It can see, it can hear, it can feel pain, it can get scared, it has emotions. In fact have you ever owned sheep? How many would agree they are about the dumbest animals in the world? You can push on them, yell at them, but more than often they will not move for you, unless of course you’re their shepherd.
The coin is just a coin. It cannot see, hear, feel and it has no emotions.
Both the sheep and the coin represent two different types of sinners.
Like the sheep, there are sinners who are lost in our world today who know they are lost. They can feel that they are not where they are supposed to be. They can hear the shepherd calling to them from far away, but they just cannot find their way back to him, back to the fold. The sheep could represent a sinner who perhaps used to be in the company of the flock or in the company of the church and got lost somewhere along the way. Even though the sheep got lost, even if it was because it wandered away on its own, it wants to be found. The sheep feels the need to be back with the shepherd because it knows the shepherd and trusts the shepherd to care for it. In turn, the shepherd needs to the sheep because the sheep is very valuable to him in many ways. The sheep is so valuable that he will leave all the others to search for that one that is lost.