a Sermon for 3rd Sunday after Trinity 20 JULY 2021 Anno Domini
the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“ 1Then 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? 5And 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? 9And 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.” (Luke 15:1-10)
The 15th Chapter of the Gospel of St Luke is an exposition of the lost and the varying degrees of being lost. We have, in the first seven verses of the Lost Sheep, an illustration of the fragility of the new Christian to have the proper knowledge of God and the maturity to follow closely the Good Shepherd. Though he may hope to follow, he lacks vision and discipline in the process.
The ‘Lost Coin’ (Luke 15:8-10) describes the utterly lost who have no consciousness (such as a coin) of being lost and no means of participating in their being ‘found’. A sinner is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-7) and, therefore, not even aware that he needs finding, or a Savior.
The third state of lostness, which is not included in today’s text (Luke 15:11-232), is of the Prodigal Son who launches out from the presence of his father into a “far country.” This last parable is about the willful and knowing estrangements of the child of God from His Father. (Trench). The last parable differs from the first two in that the first two (the Coin and the Lost Sheep) reflect the ‘seeking love of God’ while the last of the Prodigal represent the nature of God in His ‘receiving’ us back into the fold once we deliberately abandon it. Unfortunately, the whole sense cannot be gained by studying only these first two parables in Luke 15:1-10, but we shall proceed, nevertheless with the dish before us.
“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.” Those who need the saving Gospel most are likened to those who need the most urgent medical treatment. They flock to the Emergency Room of the hospital to save their lives. If Christ did not come for the sinner, for whom did He come? The sinner must draw “near unto Him” under the power and calling of the Holy Ghost. Being dead already, they have no consciousness to determine to come, but the Holy Ghost, working in their hearts and compelling them to draw near, begins to awaken a soul that has been dead from the beginning. He whispers in the sinners ear, “Draw near and hear!” “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God .” (Romans 10:17)
“And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” These are the same old faith-rejecters that have followed Christ everywhere trying to find fault in all that He does, and He only does good! They implied that Christ shared the like character to sinners and publicans and even had ‘sympathy’ with them. They were right regarding the latter. He has much sympathy for the sinner and even gave His life-blood for their salvation.
Christ now relates the parable of the Lost Sheep. Being the Good and Consummate Shepherd, He is well qualified to draw the parallel: “And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 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? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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. 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.”
The Scribes and Pharisees were deaf to the Gospel and Christ knew it! He speaks beyond them to those who can relate to the life of a poor shepherd. What does a shepherd do if he loses one out a hundred sheep? Does he simply say, “Fine, I yet have ninety and nine?” No, he does not, because he is a good and responsible shepherd. He actually has grown to love each of them and has even given them a name (true in the Middle East today). Though the other sheep may suffer temporary danger in the shepherd’s absence, the shepherd is compelled by love to seek the one lost. The church, too, suffers dangers in seeking the lost in most countries of the world today. But the shepherd’s intent is not to dessert the other ninety and nine, but to return to them in due time with an added member of their own kind. And what is the reaction of the shepherd, after searching rocky cleft and crevice, when he finds his precious sheep? He carries the lamb on his shoulders and boasts of his finding it to all who will hear. Question: Do you hear and rejoice at the event?
What means this parable? A sheep is like a baby Christian (whether of tender years, ort mature age) who knows little except His Shepherd (Christ). He has a very rudimentary knowledge of Scripture, but that which he has learned has led to his coming to Christ (the Good Shepherd) for protection and care. He has no vision beyond the grass alongside the trail upon which His Shepherd leads him. So he wonders away – not out of evil intent – but lack of vision and understanding. He has not been nurtured in the faith by the church. A simple ‘altar call’ as my Baptist friends love to aver, is not sufficient to feed the baby Christian to cause him to grow strong spiritual bones and muscles. He needs to be fed daily with the Bread of Heaven that he might grow and develop vision for the trail.
The ninety and nine represent those who have grown up strong in the Gospel and not subject to stray from the fold. The faithful brother of the Prodigal Son is represented in these ninety and nine. “In other words, much like those who have grown up from childhood in the fear of God and as the sheep of His pasture.” (JFB). The Pharisees were certainly not of this category. They were more like the lost coin which had no sense of being lost.
Christ now tells the parable of the Lost Coin. This Lost Coin represents those utterly lost who have no sense of need or purpose of a shepherd. They do not know they are lost and do not know they need finding. They are not even aware of what their proper place, in God, should be. “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?” The loss of even a valueless article of common use will often set my wife to searching everywhere for it. A good woman does not like to lose ANYTHING for she wishes to be a good steward of all that God has placed in her keeping; but a lost coin of silver adds much fuel to her diligence in seeking. Light helps reveal that which is lost. The Light of Christ illumines the soul to its own sin and helps it to be found. The woman lights the candle, searches all the known and familiar places first, and then even sweeps the house to find the precious coin. “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.” Just as the shepherd does in finding his Lost Sheep, the woman celebrates in discovering the Lost Coin and asks her friends (the church) to rejoice with her over it. Here Christ adds: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” May I ask you, “If the angels of God rejoice over the sinner that repents, should not you value them and rejoice as well?” In both instances (the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin) there is rejoicing in Heaven. Who are we to forego that same rejoicing?
We will conclude the lesson in the middle of its full meaning as the Prodigal Son is corollary to the first two entities that are lost. I will leave it to the reader to study the remaining parable and fathom its depth of meaning. Bear in mind that the substance of all three parables is a mounting depth of consciousness as to ones obligations and maturity to follow Christ.