Second Sunday after Epiphany – Friday

This man receiveth sinners. – Luke 15:2.

This is a word of derision from the self-righteous Pharisees.  With us it is a word of praise and blessing. The following story is the origin of it.

All the publicans and sinners were drawing near to Jesus to hear Him.  And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying: “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”  And He spake this parable unto them, saying: “What man of you, having a 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 neighbors, 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 who need no repentance” (Luke 15:1-7).

Jesus receives sinners; He seeks the straying sheep.  Jesus Himself, in Matthew 18, declared that “the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (v. 11).  The Prophet Isaiah included himself and all other sinners when he testified that “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him [the Messiah, the Savior] the iniquity of us all” (53:6).  Every one of us, like sheep, have gone astray; we have sinned; we have offended God.  All of our sins and the sins of the whole world were laid on Jesus; “He died for all” (II Corinthians 5:15a).  God “made Him [Christ Jesus] to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [in Christ](v. 21).

Let us remember that even one sinner is important to Jesus.  What does the Apostle Peter share with us in his Second Epistle?  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [sorrow over sins and true faith in God’s forgiveness in Christ](3:9).  Is there joy in heaven over your repentance, your sorrow over your sins and your trust in God’s forgiveness for Jesus’ sake]?  Yes, most certainly!  And when Jesus has found a sinner, and that sinner is brought to repentance through “the Law” (Romans 3:20b) of God, Jesus takes that repentant sinner, assures him of God’s forgiveness through the Gospel of grace (built on Jesus’ substitutionary perfect obedience and work), comforts him with the real comfort of the Gospel, quiets his fears, and working in him saving faith in this marvelous grace of God in Christ’s vicarious atonement.

Is this not wonderful that Jesus receives sinners, one-by-one, and wants them to know Him, believe in Him, and follow Him.  O the greatness of the Savior’s love! O the magnificent grace of God in Christ Jesus!

 

PRAYER. – Dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, rich in mercy – who has come into the world to seek and to save those who were lost, and who is found conversing with poor sinners. I give thanks to Thee for Thy great mercy and grace toward me, and I beg Thee, keep me truly repentant, that I may continue to believe Thy precious Gospel, which tells me that God does not charge my sins against me because Thou hast once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (I Peter 3:18).  I thank and praise Thee, my dear, very dear Savior. Amen.

 

 

O Savior, precious Savior, whom yet unseen, we love;

O name of might and favor, all other names above;

we worship Thee, we bless Thee; to Thee, O Christ, we sing;

we praise Thee and confess Thee, our holy Lord and King.

O Bringer of salvation, who wondrously hast wrought;

Thyself the revelation, of love beyond our thought;

we worship Thee, we bless Thee; to Thee, O Christ, we sing;

we praise Thee and confess Thee, our gracious Lord and King.

Hymn 352, stanzas 1-2 (TLH)

 

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