“I once was lost, but now am found” Trinity 3 2024

16. June 2024
Trinity 3
Luke 15:1-32

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 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.

 ‘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.”

It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

“I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.” So goes the line from John Newton’s favorite hymn. It’s not just a nice sentiment but can lead you to confess the truth of who Jesus is for you (despite the hymn forgetting to confess Christ and how He found you and gave you sight.)  The hymn echoes these three beloved parables of the Lost—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. These are beloved parables because we who have ears to hear learn of the dramatic lengths and depths Jesus has gone to search, find, and rescue us. 

They’re also each a bit different, developing the theme with nuance and comparison, like turning the precious jewel to see each of its facets. Remember that Jesus has two audiences in all three, so the parables can be heard in two ways. The lost–tax collectors and sinners–draw near to Him. The self-righteous–Pharisees and scribes–complained. For those who are lost, Jesus has found them and drew them near in repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This is the most incredible good news. For those who look for salvation in themselves, those who “do not need repentance” think Jesus is completely wrong. “This man receives sinners and eats with them,” they exclaim!

And so God’s Word always goes. For those who desperately need Jesus as their Savior, the Scriptures are full of redemption stories of the lost sheep, coin, and sons. For those who have ears to hear and thereby eyes to see, that’s the story of the Bible. God, the Holy Trinity, is bending all history towards seeking and saving the lost, or to say it another way, taking the dead and raising them to new life. That is our default position, whether we know it or not. We all bear the curse leading to death despite our desperate attempts to live. And even those accused by the parables, like the Pharisees and scribes, need Christ’s forgiveness, life, and salvation as much as the tax collectors and sinners. They don’t know it yet because the imagination of their hearts has blinded them to reality.

Some wander away from the Truth, Jesus, and get lost in this wicked world. Some forget or neglect Jesus where He’s promised to be and get lost. Some pursue their heart’s deceitful desires and wants and squander their lives. Some get caught up in their ideas of what it means to follow Jesus and a different Word while thinking they are faithful. There are plenty of ways to get lost, but only one way to be found. However you’ve gotten lost, Jesus never stops seeking to find, rescue, and save you. 

And right here and now, He’s restoring you again. He’s always bringing repentance for the forgiveness of sins. So, Jesus has already drawn out your confession. You said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” And then He said, “I forgive you!” And God the Father has prepared a meal that both gives this forgiveness, restores you to life, and brings you back in—the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Communion. With Jesus’s body and blood given and shed for you, you are found and made alive again. 

And here, we are given to rejoice and sing with all whom our LORD Jesus has found—our fellow sheep, coins, rebellious younger sons, self-righteous older sons, tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, scribes—or as we say it, “with saints, and angels, and the whole host of heaven.” We sing the song of the Lamb, clothed and fed with His righteousness, safe and sound in His loving embrace and secure in His home. 

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin