Reflections: The Third Sunday after Trinity

Today’s Reading: Luke 15:1-10

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 8:1-28; Acts 11:1-18 

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
(Luke 15:1-2) 

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord is surrounded by the “wrong” type of people. That is what the “right” type of people think, anyway. And, if truth be told, those “right” types of people make a lot of sense. If I took the time to think about it, I would assume that Jesus would spend the majority of His time with those who lived an upright and holy life, those who have shunned the things of the shadows, where shame and humiliation lurk about. The most rational thing would be for the shepherd to stay with the flock, the woman not to spend the day looking for a nickel, and the father to forget about his prodigal son and focus on the one who stuck around. 

But Jesus doesn’t do that, because to be honest, there is no flock, no purse with nine coins, no perfect son who continuously does his father’s bidding. I would like to think that I am all of those things. I would like to pat myself on the back for never running off in the country or getting lost in the couch cushions. That’s not me, and it’s not you, either. But that certainly doesn’t keep us from pretending that we’re the perfect ones. 

What is meant to be an insult from the “right” type of people is really a compliment, and Jesus takes it that way. For if a savior isn’t dining with sinners then he isn’t a savior. And no, forgiveness does not mean that when Jesus receives sinners, He grants them permission to remain in their sin. Haven’t you read the parables? Jesus is bringing the lost ones back from their sin, back from their danger, back from their deaths. 

A shepherd isn’t worth his weight in wool if he doesn’t go and track down the silly sheep that lost its way. Because if he didn’t do that today, tomorrow he would find himself with two lost sheep, and then three, and then the whole flock. Sheep don’t stay in their pens: The shepherd places them there each and every day. And so, of course Jesus receives sinners and eats with them: They are the only type of people there are. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

O God, the protector of all who trust in You, without whom nothing is strong and nothing is holy, multiply Your mercy on us that, with You as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Third Sunday after Trinity)

-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.

Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.