Sermon – Pentecost 14 – September 15, 2019
Text: Luke 15:1-10 – “Jesus Seeks and Saves the Lost”
Have you ever lost something? Most people tend to lose things like TV remotes, cell phones, car keys, glasses, shoes, a wallet or purse – that kind of thing. According to the Pixie Lost & Found survey, the average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items. Can you believe it!? Of course, whenever we lose something we almost always remember having left it in a “safe place.” Evidently, the place we left it was safe even from ourselves!
It is statistics like this that make the parable in our Gospel reading today one of the most relatable parables in all of Scripture. The parable of the Lost Coin. It is of the woman who loses one of ten silver coins and sweeps the whole house until she finds it again. It is short, to the point, but it is memorable. It is almost like Jesus knew that people are inherently good at losing things and would still be for thousands of years in the future. We can all relate to having lost something, but have you ever been lost yourself?
I still remember one time I was lost. I was a young kid in Walmart with my mom. I wanted to go over to the next aisle to look at the toys while my mom needed to go the opposite direction for something else. I went my way and she went hers, both thinking the other was following them. When I finally turned back after looking at the toys, I realized I was quite alone. I wandered around the area hoping to find her nearby, but she wasn’t anywhere to be seen. My mind began racing. I thought I had lost her forever and I was never going to be able to get home. Who was going to annoy my older sister? When was I going to fix something with my dad again? Who would be there to play with my toys if I was gone!? I was going to be lost forever! I started to weep as I slowly moped around the area until a nice lady with a blue vest on found me crying and asked me what was wrong. She took me to a till to announce over the PA system “Denise Timm please come to the tills at the front of the store. Denise Timm.” My mom came to the front to get me. I was overjoyed. She was thoroughly embarrassed, relieved, and a bit annoyed at the whole thing. After all, the whole thing happened in about a minute and she hadn’t even realized I had wandered off until she heard her name being called to the whole store over the PA system.
Have You Been Lost?
Were you ever that kid lost in Walmart?
Have you ever been lost far worse? Have you ever been lost out in the bush?
Did you ever go through a phase where you wandered off away from the church?
Lost is Lost Until It’s Found
When something is lost, it stays lost until it is found. The coin or car keys stay lost until the owner picks them back up again, the kid lost in the store stays lost until their parent finds them again, the person lost in the bush stays lost until they find where they are on the map or can place themselves back in some familiar territory which they can use as a guide to make their way back home. A young person, a teen, can feel like they are lost in the world. They are lost until they find who they are and where they belong; or until someone else finds out who they are and shows them where they belong.
Home Is Where God Is
Home for humanity is with our creator. Until we are living with God, speaking with Him and acting like Him; until then we are lost.
When we hear about our neighbors who say there is no such thing as “God,” or those who say having abortions is normal and shouldn’t be stigmatized, or those who want to be able to kill themselves because they don’t think their God-given life is good enough to keep living, or those who say “follow your heart” if you love someone it does not matter who you have to divorce to achieve your happiness, or who take advantage of others just to get more money, or who mass murder each other over unforgiven disputes, the list goes on and on.
When we hear about these things that are so against who God is and what he is all about we ask the question, “How lost and far from home is the world?”
The Searcher Knows
When we investigate the details of the text this morning, we find something interesting. When the woman who loses the coin goes searching, what does she find? Does she find a paperclip? A neat looking rock? Last week’s paper? No! She finds exactly what she set out to search for! She finds the silver coin she lost.
Similarly, in the opening parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep, the shepherd does not go out to find his lost sheep and instead find a pig, or a goat, or even a different sheep. The shepherd finds exactly what he went out to find – his lost sheep.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “What is going on? Our new pastor has finally cracked from the pressure. He’s telling us that when somebody looks for something, they find what they were looking for. No Duh, they find what they were looking for!”
Hear me out. There is a purpose for laying out this point so clearly. God knows who is lost. These parables about the lost sheep and the lost coin are Jesus telling what God is like when He searches out the lost. In the Gospel of Luke, it is a constant theme throughout that Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost. God knows who is lost and when He finds them, he is ecstatic! All heaven is in a joy-filled uproar when a sinner, someone who was lost, is found, repents, and is brought home.
Ezekiel’s Good Shepherd
The Old Testament lesson for today from Ezekiel 34 tells us all about God as a Shepherd. This piece of text is God Himself talking directly saying He is the one who will search for His sheep himself. He will rescue them from all the places they have been scattered and bring them to a good, rich, pasture. God says “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.” God says He will be their God and He will establish His servant David (Jesus as David’s ultimate heir) as the prince among them.
God Seeks You Out
What have you done this week to stray from God? What has distracted you from Jesus and His way of life?
Right now, Jesus is calling you back to him. Right now, Jesus is seeking you out in this Divine Service and saying, “I’ve found you.” When we read the Ten Commandments, and then look at our lives, it’s all too easy to see how we have strayed from our Heavenly Father. It is all too easy to see how we keep on straying away from our home. In the Confession and Absolution at the beginning of the service, God in heaven and all the angels began rejoicing that one of His sheep who was lost has been forgiven and found.
God is constantly searching you out like a good shepherd. He is ruthless in His search for you. Because God knows who you are, He will keep seeking you out until He finds you. Maybe you have wandered away from the church, from God, in the past and were brought back. God never stopped seeking you out. Maybe someone from church came back into your life, maybe you heard something on the radio that made you remember God, maybe something you had memorized from church came to mind and you remembered that God loved you so much that He sent His one any only son so that you would have eternal life. Always God is calling you back through whatever means He can.
God Seeks the World
When we look at our church shrinking, when we stand on the sidelines watching as our children walk away from the faith, when we just cannot see how the church will be able to keep going, we are aware more than ever that there are many people who are lost. We wring our hands wanting to do something but not knowing what to do or how.
If you have ever been lost, you know how terrifying it can be when you realize you are lost – but you also know how sweet it is to be found. Many people in the world are lost. Many people are far from home. Many people are far away from Jesus.
God knows exactly who those people are. God knows who His lost sheep are. When we follow our mission statement, when we know, show, and grow in the love of Christ, we play a part in God’s seeking of His lost sheep. No matter how good or bad our efforts are, God uses them to seek out His people.
Jesus will be working in our feeble misguided efforts to reach out to the world. He governs our words and our deeds, no matter how awkward they might seem. Since He knows those who are lost, He can name and claim them in ways we will never fully be able to imagine.
Trusting in His reckless, never-ending love, we trust the ability to speak His word of love and forgiveness will come to us. We trust His word of love and forgiveness will take root in our own hearts and spill out into what we say and do. We trust that His word through us will show our neighbours just how lost they are – but it won’t leave them there. God’s same words of forgiveness will comfort them with the sweetness that they are found and forgiven. We speak our Savior’s Words and watch as He searches for those He has come, died, risen and ascended to Heaven for. We watch as God seeks out the whole world and works to give them a home here and in eternity.