Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO\
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
᛭ INI ᛭
Today’s Gospel lesson is all about repentance. Now, “we attribute these two parts to repentance: contrition and faith… We separate from contrition those useless and endless discussions regarding grief from loving God and from fearing punishment… Contrition takes place when sins are condemned by God’s Word. The sum of the preaching of the Gospel is this: to convict of sin; to offer for Christ’s sake the forgiveness of sins and righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life… So Christ includes the sum of the Gospel when He says, ‘Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations’ (Lk 24:47).” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XIIa (V), 28–30)
“As the second part of repentance we add faith in Christ… [People] should believe that, for Christ’s sake, their sins are freely forgiven. This faith cheers, sustains, and enlivens the contrite, according to Romans 5:1, ‘Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.’ This faith obtains the forgiveness of sins. It justifies before God.” (Apology, XIIa (V), 35–36)
“Furthermore, the Power of the Keys administers and presents the Gospel through Absolution, which is the true voice of the Gospel. We also include Absolution when we speak of faith, because ‘faith comes from hearing,’ as Paul says in Romans 10. When the Gospel is heard and the Absolution is heard, the conscience is encouraged and receives comfort. Because God truly brings a person to life through the Word, the Keys truly forgive sins before God…” (Apology, XIIa (V), 39–40)
“In temptations faith is nourished in a variety of ways: through the declarations of the Gospel and the use of the Sacraments… So faith is conceived and strengthened through Absolution, through the hearing of the Gospel, through the use of the Sacraments, so that it may not give in to the terrors of sin and death while it struggles.” (Apology, XIIa (V), 42)
To put all of this another way, and it’s exactly what we see going on in our Parables today:
THE LORD DOES THE SAVING, AND YOU DO THE BEING SAVED.
((I. The Lord saves—active.))
The Shepherd saves His sheep. He goes after the lost one. The one that got itself lost. The one that keeps wandering far and wide. The Lord goes after the one. Without the shepherd going after the sheep, it would never be found.
The woman finds her coin. “Wisdom has built her house,” as we heard last week. The woman sweeps and cleans. Searches under every piece of furniture, in every nook and cranny. The coin does nothing to be found. It is only found because the woman looked for it. This is what Christ does, too, for Christ Jesus is “Wisdom,” as Provers 8 and 1 Corinthians 1 tell us.
The father goes after his sons. He loves them both unconditionally. Even when the younger treats his father as if he were dead already, he gives what he asks. He runs to younger. Puts the best robe on him, sandals on his feet, gives him a ring, the sign of sonship. He throws a big party. He goes out after the older son, too. “Please, come in,” he says.
Jesus is the going out of the father. “He eats with tax collectors and sinners.” “The sheep.” “The coin.” “The younger son.” He speaks with “the scribes and pharisees.” “The 99.” “The 9.” “The older brother.”
When the Lord Jesus does His saving, when He does His repenting, it’s all a bit over the top. Always more forgiveness than there are sins. “Far more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents,” is saved. The Lord would throw an eternal party even if just one person is saved! The Lord would save, would die for, just one, only one, even for you. What man throws a party for one sheep? What woman throws a party for a coin? (Wouldn’t that party cost more than the coin?)
And when Jesus saves, it’s all a bit unbecoming. It’s scandalous. Not just eating with sinners. “Suffering, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone-cold tomb.” So also the father in the parable does something a man would never do back then. He ran! It’s unbecoming. (Might see more than you’d bargain for.) But what else would you expect him to do for his son? “My son was dead but now he is alive; he was lost, but now is found.” So also Jesus, “by His wounds we are healed.” He was “a man from whom men hid their faces,” as Isaiah prophesied. What else would He do? He wouldn’t do anything else at all.
THE LORD DOES THE SAVING: “with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” There’s nothing left out of His saving. He returns sinners to Himself (saves them, repents them), like a shepherd with a sheep, a woman with a coin, and a father with two sons.
And you? Well, you’re saved. If the Lord does the saving, you don’t. Not even a little bit. For “if salvation were by the law,” by your works, “then Christ died for nothing.” And so, THE LORD DOES THE SAVING, AND YOU DO THE BEING SAVED.
((II. You are saved—passive.))
Being saved. Passive. We don’t like that. We like doing things. Making our mark. Accomplishing our goals. Accomplishing someone else’s goals. Working hard. Getting paid. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Being busy. Getting to work. Planting. Chores. Cattle. Harvest. Lesson plans. Deadlines. Due dates. Assessments. Grades. Performance reviews. That’s how the world works.
It doesn’t work that way at all with the Lord Jesus. Not one bit. Not even close. In the world your identity is wrapped up in what you do for yourself and others. Before God, your identity is wrapped up 100% in what God has done FOR YOU in Jesus Christ His Son. There’s no gray area here. It’s that black and white.
Jesus saves you. You are saved. That’s who you are: saved, redeemed, baptized, child of God, “born not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but born of God.” This is the chief article of our faith: “that Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification” (SA II, I, 1) before God. “Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered even though heaven and earth and everything else falls. (SA II, I, 5)”
This isn’t just for those who are unbelievers become believers. This isn’t just for new Christians. This isn’t just for babies who are completely passive in Baptism, who before Christ baptizes them are not saved. This isn’t just for evangelism or missions. This is the entire Christian faith: Jesus saves you, repents you, and because He is active you are passive. You receive. You are saved. You are Baptized. You are redeemed. You are justified. All Jesus’ action FOR YOU.
This is because “Christ does not stop being our Mediator after we have been renewed (AP V 38),” “washed, sanctified, justified,” saved. He freely saves all. He freely saves you. And you are on the receiving end of that. What He gives, you receive. That’s faith! That’s being His sheep, His coin, son of His Father.
And there’s rejoicing in heaven over all of this. “The angels and archangels and all the company of heaven” Over one. Over many. Over the younger brother. Rejoicing on top of rejoicing when the older brother comes, too! Rejoicing over you. Rejoicing over me.
THE LORD DOES THE SAVING, AND YOU DO THE BEING SAVED.
That’s repentance. Jesus returning you to Himself: sheep of the fold, coin in the bag, child of His Father. This is the Christian faith, this is the Christian life. Jesus saving you. You being saved.
When He does it, it’s done, finished. Calvary much. Empty tomb much. Banquet of the Father much! (Body and blood much.) When He saves you, you’re saved. When He finds you, you’re found. When He forgives you, you’re forgiven. When He feeds you, you’re fed. When He gives you life, you live forever.