Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having allowed ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh. We beseech You graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ; and enliven our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that we may abide in Your Word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Your Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
5 “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them,`Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?
9 “And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying,`Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’
10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Lk. 15:1-10 NKJ)
These are Your words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Good News for Sinners
Dear fellow redeemed,
While “repentance” is something that all of heaven rejoices in, the same thing is despised by the world. The Greek “metanoia” literally means, “turn around.” It means to admit your sinful heart and the sins that flow from it, and to turn from them to Christ, who forgives you your sins.
The world wants nothing of this. Many will deny their sins; many wish to continue in their sins unbothered, and desire that sin even be embraced. We just got through June, which many called pride month, and we were bombarded with messages about embracing sexual immorality, perversions of God’s creation and so on. While they try to gather the world’s acceptance of their sins, they hate our stance on biblical morality, because the truth pricks their consciences. Many in the world will even admit their sins, but they think they can continue in them with no offense given to God, and they often bring up the passage we see in our text, “Jesus receives sinners and eats with them.” But they often don’t consider that Jesus calls these sinners “lost”. These sinners have a condition that is to be mourned over. What Jesus desires of them is that they repent of their sins. Besides these who deny or excuse their sins, there are many in the world that do have contrition over its sins, but to turn to a man that died on the cross as its solution is offensive. Therefore, they still lack true repentance.
But you and I can understand the world’s reaction to righteous judgments. We can understand it because we do not like hearing righteous judgments that expose our sins either. When your spouse, or friend, or parent point out the sin that your committing, I doubt that your first reaction would be of thankfulness and humble repentance. I’m guessing that it looks more like denial, defensiveness, or anger. Yes, that our prideful old Adam.
Our old Adam in us likes to be coddled doesn’t he? That old sinful Adam in us, our sinful nature, likes to go on its own way unhindered, and not just unhindered, but celebrated and encouraged. If you weren’t new creations in Christ, born again of water and the word, wouldn’t you have liked it if instead of committing your favorite sins under the cover of secrecy, you had a movement in the world that worked to gather acceptance and embrace your sin?
But the Christian message doesn’t coddle the Old Adam at all. The Christian message is about the death of the Old Adam and salvation from our sins. Don’t follow your heart. Deny it. Turn from yourself, from whom you are as a sinner. With contrite and sorrowful heart turn from the sinful mess you are. But that’s just half of it isn’t it. Turn to Christ, your Savior, who receives you and in whom there is forgiveness and righteousness. In Him, you are saved from your sinfulness, and are made into a forgiven, righteous people of God!
Now, God loves all people, “God so loved the world.” Jesus shed His blood and died for all people. But our text highlights Jesus’ love for “sinners.” Jesus received them and ate with them. The Pharisees were offended by it! If Jesus is a Jewish teacher, a holy man come from God, if He were the Son of Man as He claimed He is, He would not be in such despicable company. Why is He associating with such scum? Look there are tax collectors, traitors, and prostitutes with Him.
But you see, these are the ones for whom Jesus came. These were the people who were aware of their sins. The law had brought them to the knowledge of their lost condition. But then Christ had drawn them to His grace and mercy, and they found joy and peace in His word of forgiveness and salvation. The Pharisees thought that these sinners were beneath them. The Pharisees were holy, so they thought. The idea of repentance was offensive to them. They thought they have earned God’s grace. They weren’t lost. They weren’t broken. They had no need of being saved.
And so Jesus wasn’t for them. Of course, they were every bit as much sinners as the sinners sitting around Jesus, and they most definitely needed Jesus and salvation, but as long as they do not acknowledge their sinfulness, Jesus was of no benefit to them.
And so it is with the impenitent. With the holy people, with the good people, the nice people, the moral people, Jesus is of no benefit to them. There is no rejoicing in heaven over them. They are without salvation.
But to those who are lost and broken, those who are sinners to the core, who sorrow over who they are, those confess with their hearts, “we are by nature sinful and unclean and we have sinned against You by thought, word, and deed,” If that is you, someone is looking for you!
He is coming through thorns and briar, in the danger of wolves and bear, He comes even enduring ridicule and mockery, He comes even through cross and grave for you. He comes to cleanse you of your sins. With His pierced hands, and putting you upon His shoulders that bore your sins He exalts us in His forgiveness and righteousness, that our identity is no longer in our broken sinfulness, but our identity is in Him. We are Christians.
Though we, the world, and the devil rightly calls us sinners, we say, “Yes, I am a sinner, but I happily admit it, because Jesus receives sinners. He comes for me and saves me! He puts me upon His shoulders and takes me home. And all of heaven rejoices over my repentance!”
That’s the good news of Christ for us sinners.
But Jesus isn’t going just after you is He? He comes for every one of us. And in His great love He comes for other sinners, too! To your neighbors, loved ones and enemies alike. God desires all people to repent, to believe in Him and His Word and live.
Christ was willing to associate with such sinners, let us not do as the Pharisees and think ourselves above them. If we remember who we are and the saving love for us, that surely changes the way that we look at everyone else around us. There is no sinner, no scum, no wretch of the earth under us. But as Christ was willing to associate with me, even love me so much to come and find me, so shall we see the love of Christ for each person we come across every single day and we will show love and mercy toward them. And as Christ comes and seeks me out and guards and keeps me through His Word, through this message of good news for sinners, we shall let Christ loose on them through the proclamation of His gospel. God grant that we have this love and work and grant it fruit that by our neighbors repentance we may, with all the host of heaven, rejoice!
Repent! Turn from who you are! You are a sinner, and you have committed a multitude of sins! Yes, I will repent with sorrow of my sin, but I will also repent with rejoicing because Christ receives such as me. He puts me on His shoulders, there is room for us all. There we are at home with Him, until He finally carries us to our eternal home where we shall see Him face to face! Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.