3rd Sunday after Trinity + Luke 15:1-11 + July 2, 2017

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn # 1 Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty
Hymn # 387 Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice
Hymn # 384 Oh, How Great is Thy Compassion

Introit

TURN YOUR- - || self to me, and have | mer- | cy | on | me, *
            For I am desolate and af- | flict- | ed.
|| Look on my affliction | and | my | pain, | - *
            And forgive all | my | sins. (Psalm 25:16, 18)
|| To You, O Lord, I lift | up | my | soul. | - *
            O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be | a- | shamed.
|| For You are the God of | my | sal- | va- | tion; *
            On You I wait all | the | day.
|| My eyes are ever | to-ward ∙ | the | Lord, | - *
            For He shall pluck my feet out of | the | net.
|| Keep my soul, | and | de- | liv-er ∙ | me; *
            Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust | in | You. (Psalm 25:1–2a, 5, 15, 20)
GLORIA PATRI (From Hymnal)
|| Turn Yourself to me, and have | mer- | cy | on | me, *
            For I am desolate and af- | flict- | ed.
|| Look on my affliction | and | my | pain, | - *
            And forgive all | my | sins. (Psalm 25:16, 18)

Collect for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity
O God, the Protector of all that trust in Thee, without Whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase and multiply upon us Thy mercy that, Thou being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. 

Collect for the Visitation (July 2)
Almighty God, Who hast dealt wonderfully with Thy handmaiden, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and hast chosen her to be the mother of Thy Son and hast graciously made known that Thou regardest the poor and lowly and the despised, grant us grace in all humility and meekness to receive Thy Word with hearty faith and so to be made one with Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord; Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. 

Readings

Sermon

In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

1)         Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.” Who are these folks and why are they flocking to hear Jesus? Luke calls them tax collectors. These are men who on the Roman payroll and their job it to collect duty, tribute, and taxes from the people of Israel. Generally, these men were not content with their wages so they abused their office and collected more than necessary, so that what was Rome’s went to Rome and anything over that went into their own pockets. They were a greedy lot, driven by the love of money and that love of money led them to abuse their position and demand more tax than was actually necessary. No one liked the tax collectors. In Matthew 18:17 Jesus says that those who refuse to repent of their sin, after several admonitions, “let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector,” meaning, don’t have anything to do with them. Luke also calls them “sinners.” These aren’t people who sin out of weakness though. These are the people who willfully sin, who choose to sin, and who make a lifestyle of sin. These are the folks who flock to Jesus to hear Him.

2)         So why did they draw near to Him to hear Him. What was Jesus saying that pricked their ears and drew them in so that they drank deeply from His instruction? It wasn’t a message of tolerance. Tax collectors and sinners were masters as tolerating sin already. Jesus’ words were not: “God doesn’t care about your many sins and your wicked lifestyles. He loves you and accepts you just the way you are.” That is what these people already believed in their hearts. For a person to continue to willfully sin they have to believe that God will not punish their sins and those sins aren’t that bad anyway. Jesus clearly was not tolerating their wickedness. What then? Was Jesus preaching self-improvement? A message of soft-law that says: “Yes, you’re rough around the edges, but with a little work you can be better. God will be pleased if you just try a bit more to be better people.” But there was no need for tax collectors and sinners to hear that from Jesus. The ones that had wanted to improve would have already thought such thoughts about God and themselves. There’s no need to flock to a teacher to hear that sort of thing. That’s what their sinful nature was already telling them. Neither toleration nor self-betterment actually deal with sin. Toleration and self-betterment are only cosmetic changes to the sinner. So what was it that Jesus was teaching that sucked these tax collectors and sinners in and held them?

3)         Repentance. In Matthew 9:11 a Pharisee said to one of Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” “Why does He socialize with the dregs of society? He’s not much of a teacher, much less a Messiah, if He doesn’t understand exactly who these people are.” When Jesus hears that He replies: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:12-13). It seems odd that these tax collectors and sinners were gathering around in droves to hear Jesus speak about repentance. The ideas of toleration and self-improvement saturate our societal thinking to the point that even the word “repentance” sounds high-handed and harsh. Yet that is precisely what Jesus was speaking about. And that was precisely what these tax collectors and sinners had gathered around Jesus to hear. Repentance is not the sole-property of the fire-and-brimstone preachers who demand a change in lifestyle or else the sinner will burn in Hell. That’s not what repentance is. Repentance is a sorrow over sin and the desire to be rid of it. To repent of sin means to lament your sin and confess that what you have done is wrong deserves death and Hell, and that the promised condemnation is just and true. Jesus was very much condemning these tax collectors and sinners for their willful, open sins, as well as the sins in their hearts, those hidden from everyone except God and themselves.

4)         The reason the tax collectors and sinners drew near to hear Him was because Jesus dealt with their sin head on, called it what it was, and then offered a solution far better than the cosmetic remedies of tolerance or self-betterment. He offered them the Gospel. To repent is not only to turn from your sins. You have to turn toward something else. The Gospel is the ‘something else’ to which they were to turn. He says to them, “You, dear tax collectors, are sheep who have strayed from God’s fold by your sins of thought, word, and deed. You cannot find your way back to the sheepfold but continue to wander further into the darkness of your sins. You, dear sinners, are a coin that has been lost and is unable to do anything to let yourself be found. But in spite of your straying you are still a sheep. In spite of your lostness you are still a valuable treasure to Me. Since you cannot find yourself back into the fold, since you cannot creep out of the darkness and back into the treasure box, I will seek you. I am the good shepherd” (John 10:14). I am the one who seeks you out to find you, to put you on my shoulders and carry you back to Father’s sheepfold. I am the one who lights the lamp and sweeps the house and searches carefully for you. Your sins are mostly certain terrible, heinous, and damning. All of them. But I have come to make atonement for your sins because “The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus offers Himself upon the cross in place of every sinner and every sin. He dies the sinner’s death. He suffers the sinner’s condemnation. He “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25), that is, He died for our many sins and was raised to life so that He might justify all who believe in Him and trust His promise of forgiveness.

5)         The message of Jesus that drew these tax collectors and sinners in was the message that Jesus preached at all times, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Sorrow over your sins, lament them for the Psalmist says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). The Lord had said through His prophet, “For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). To those broken by the knowledge of their sin, to those who feel the guilt of their transgressions against God and their neighbor, to those who tremble at God’s commandments and acknowledge that they have sinned grievously, Jesus offers them something the world cannot give: the forgiveness of every sin. The prophet Isaiah rejoiced in the promise of forgiveness and says “You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38:17). The prophet Micah wrote: “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). This is the gospel that Jesus speaks to tax collectors and all sinners who repent of their sins and look to God for mercy because mercy is precisely what God promises.

6)         Jesus ends both of these parables in today’s Gospel lesson with similar words. In both cases the Lord rejoices over one sinner who repents and believes the Gospel. Not only does Christ rejoice in their salvation but “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). The Lord rejoices, and not only the Lord, but all the heavenly hosts rejoice with Him because this is His good and gracious will: that all men be save and come to the knowledge of the truth of repentance and forgiveness. But not all will do this. Luke 7:30 says that “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves.” In today’s lesson they grumble against Jesus for instructing tax collectors and sinners in repentance and faith. Their example shows us that there are many who reject the Gospel because they think they don’t need the gospel. The Pharisees thought they were righteous in and of themselves so they didn’t need Christ’s righteousness that He won and then offered to all who believe the Gospel. The Scribes and doctors of the Law thought they were spiritually healthy so they paid no attention to the medicine the great physical of souls freely offered. In this they rejected God’s will for themselves and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. So it is in our day as well, that many reject repentance and faith because they love their sin and think they are they are righteous. Still others imagine that God tolerates their sinful behavior and winks at it, while others vainly think they can please God with their own paltry works. Jesus condemns all of these thoughts as sinful in Matthew 21:31 when He says: “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.”

7)         Jesus receives penitent sinners who acknowledge their sin and grieve their sinfulness. He forgives the sins of all who come to Him with penitent hearts, who wish to be rid of their sin. And He deals with it, not by tolerating it, not by offering tips to try harder next time, but by absolving it and removing it as far as the east is from the west so that it is no more. He says to all the penitent in Jeremiah 31:34, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” He is a gracious God to give us what we truly need to deal with sin: His perfect life, His atoning death on the cross, repentance and faith to believe His Gospel so that the angels in heaven rejoice over us.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. 

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