Angels Rejoice Over Me
Angels Rejoice Over Me
A sermon based on Luke 15:1-10, delivered by Pastor David Russow,
Hope Lutheran Church, Andover, MN; October 6 & October 9, 2019
In the name of Jesus, who found us lost sheep and coins:
I had to take Buddy, our dog, in to the vet last week for an ear infection. It was the first time at this vet clinic so I had to fill out two information forms. The form asked for my name, but that was followed by a question about my preferred pronouns: “he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/their/theirs.” “They/their/theirs,” plural pronouns, are now considered gender-neutral pronouns for those who don’t consider themselves just male or female.
I suppose I/we shouldn’t have been surprised. Facebook recognizes 71 different gender identifications. Canada just recognized over 100. - Two. The Bible is so simply clear that there are two genders: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”
Jesus is so simply clear also that you and I need to apply, by the Spirit, when we hear, today, two short parables. The pronoun is: ME. Each of us must say: Jesus came to seek and to save me. And since angels rejoice over sinners who see their sin and the need for Jesus the Savior, repent, that means: Angels rejoice over me.
All the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3He told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, if you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that was lost until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls together his friends and his neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent. 8“Or what woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, would not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the lost coin.’ 10In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Angels rejoice over me, the lost sheep:
“Them.” That’s the pronoun the Pharisees and experts complained out loud about in criticism of Jesus. They couldn’t tolerate that Jesus seemed to tolerate, was a friend of, and welcomed and ate with sinners, with “them.” The Pharisees and experts in the law use “them” because they considered themselves not “them” not sinners. Too bad, because only those who see themselves as sinners need a Savior. They loathed Jesus because he didn’t loath “them.” The teachings of the Pharisees actually declared that,”…there is joy before God when those who provoke him perish from the world.” (Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.”) But Jesus loved sinners, including those Pharisees and experts in the law, so he taught ”them” this parable of the lost sheep. But the “them” he is also teaching in you and is I – sinful people who are called to see how lost they are, to be found, so angels repent over ME.
I am lost. I am the lost sheep, the sinner, that Jesus wants to welcome and eat with. And since each of us says, “I need to repent,” each of us can see what each of our sins has done to us and our lives. I am, you are, these words describe me: worthless, hopeless, screwed up, damaged, fragile, confused, unlovable, ruined, scarred, sad, hurt, flawed, helpless, invisible.
Speaking for all of us: I am the one who has wandered from the care and oversight of the Shepherd, Jesus, the One most interested in my welfare and safety. I have put myself at risk in the open country. He is the One who knows better than me that if I was left to myself I would starve away from him, suffer away from him, be at risk to any and every predator of my soul away from him. That’s where the wolf is – spiritually, the wolves in sheeps’ clothing, those who teach contrary to what the Shepherd gives the soul. If we aren’t eating what the shepherd gives we will take in something. And in the open country is the lion, the roaring lion, as Peter describes him (1 Pe 5:7) the devil who seeks to consume us.
Loving each of us individually the Shepherd leaves the safe sheep and seeks me out, the wanderer I am And when he finds me he doesn’t bawl me out, beat me into subjection, pen or chain me up. No he loves me, he embraces me, he holds me close to his heart, sets me on his shoulders – like on the cross – and brings me home. Honest repentance ends sin and lays it on the Shepherd who carries us and that sin on the cross. And angels rejoice over me. Christ, the Son of God, was not given into death for the righteous, but for sinners. If I had no sin I wouldn’t need Christ. I believe that. And angels rejoice over me.
You want an example of someone angels rejoiced over? My Civil War reading points out Harriet Tubman, ex-slave, smuggler of other slaves, spy for the Union. She told her biographer, “When I went to the horse trough to wash my face and took up the water in my hands, I said, 'Oh, Lord, wash me, make me clean.' When I took up the towel to wipe my face and hands, I cried, 'Oh, Lord, for Jesus' sake, wipe away all my sins!' When I took up the broom and began to sweep, I groaned, 'Oh, Lord, whatsoever sin there be in my heart, sweep it out, Lord, clear and clean.” Our whole life is one of repentance over our sin, Jesus dying for us, rising for us, seeking us out, carrying us back. Angels rejoice over me.
Angels rejoice over me, the lost coin:
Harriet saw a broom she thought repentance Jesus used the picture of a broom to teach repentance again, so that each of us sees the message again and “Angels rejoice over me.” It’s about a lost coin that a lady sweeps and searches for until she finds it.
Coins, like the sheep, are individually sought. You’re and individual, I’m and individual - what love of Jesus for me! Coins were made precious and valuable without doing anything. Coins can’t. The ore is mined. The ore is purified in fire. The molten precious metal is poured into form. The coin is even stamped with an identity.
Jesus did all that for me/us. Found me/us. Refined me/us. Stamped his name on me/us. Made me/us valuable. And if and when I/we go lost. He seeks the me/us, of each of us out. Coins can’t help the one looking for them to find them. Coins can’t call out. Coins can’t do the careful sweeping. Jesus did. I am too valuable to him to remain lost. And when I am found, angels rejoice over me! So I confess like the old confession (used still by our homebound when I visit) “I a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities (dirty sins), with which I have ever offended Thee, and justly deserve Thy temporal (in time) and eternal (in hell) punishment…but I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them…and of Thy mercy plead…the holy, bitter, innocent suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ…to be gracious and merciful unto me…” And angels rejoice.
Both as a lost sheep and a lost coin I learn that until I/we realize until I/we are bitter to ourselves, never will Jesus be sweet unto me/us. I am bitter to myself because of my sin, Jesus is sweet unto me because of the salvation he won for me. And angels rejoice over me.
Angels do many things for God and for us. They rejoiced at God’s creating power when he created the heavens and the earth. They rejoice when God’s people gather to worship and praise God’s might and grace. At death, angles carry the souls of God’s people home to heaven, see Luke 16. And they rejoice over one sinner who repents. Each of us rejoices that angels rejoice over me. Amen.