Trinity 3 2011 Listen

Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011
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10 July Anno + Domini 2011
"Jesus Receives and Eats with Sinners”

Luke 15:1-10 (Micah 7:18-20; 1 Tim. 1:12-17)

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

It has been quite the spectacle to watch the reaction of many to the not guilty verdict of Casey Anthony rendered by a jury of her peers last week.  People are outraged.  Many are thoroughly convinced that Casey is responsible for her daughter's death and greatly angered that she will be going free in a week.  She is a sick, twisted, disgusting person in the eyes of many, who believe that she not only deserves to either rot in prison for the rest of her life or be put to death for her crimes, but also that she deserves to suffer eternally in hell.  "I hope she burns in hell for what she did” is the reaction of many.

But, our Lord Jesus Christ has a different hope for Casey.  He hopes that she will repent and turn to Him in faith, so that He can welcome her into His kingdom and the angels can rejoice over her repentance in heaven.  And make no mistake, my friends, if Casey Anthony was led to repent and turn to our Lord in faith, she would be most welcomed into His eternal kingdom and the angels would indeed rejoice.  For our Lord Jesus receives and eats with sinners. 

That's the scandal.  That's what led the Pharisees and scribes to grumble against our Lord.  He received and ate with sinners.  He kept company with tax collectors and prostitutes, liars and thieves, even adulterers and murderers.  The Pharisees and scribes didn't want that kind of Messiah.  They wanted a Messiah who would hang out with the righteous and avoid the sinful dregs of society, as they did.  But, Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners - even for sinners like Casey Anthony. 

Here is another scandal you struggle with, because you have a little self-righteous Pharisee and scribe dwelling within you:  On your own, you are no better than Casey Anthony.  That's a hard pill to swallow, isn't it?  It seems wrong to suggest that you're no better than the likes of Casey Anthony.  You are civilly decent, law-abiding citizens, after all.  What's more, you are church-going folks.  And so the self-righteous Pharisee and scribe in you try to convince you that you are better, that even though you may not be perfect, you are not as bad as many.  And that same self-righteous Pharisee and scribe in you loves to root on Nancy Grace and the rest of the Pharisees and scribes of today's mass media, who put sinners before you and hammer away at them with a vengeance, believing that they themselves are morally superior and without sin and guilt.

But, here is a saying that is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom YOU are the foremost.  Yes, YOU!  Repent! 

The world may be right.  Casey Anthony's jury may well have gotten things wrong.  She could very well be guilty of her daughter's death and deserving of life in prison or even of the death penalty.  I don't know.  But, what I do know is that Jesus shed His blood on the Cross for her sins and stands ready to absolve her and welcome her into His kingdom should she repent and turn to Him in faith.  And what I also know beyond a reasonable doubt and with full certainty is that what we witnessed this past week in the conclusion of the Casey Anthony trial serves as an illustration of how God deals with you for the sake of His Son Jesus.  You sit in God's courtroom as the defendant guilty of more sins than you could ever possibly number.  And while the prosecutor in the Casey Anthony trial may not have proven the state's case against her beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor in God's courtroom, His perfect and holy Law, leaves not one shred of doubt concerning your guilt.  You are guilty.  You are a sinner.  You have broken every one of God's commandments.  You have not loved Him above all else.  You have not hallowed His Name and kept the Sabbath purely and perfectly.  You have not honored your parents as you should.  You have murdered with your tongues, committed adultery with your eyes and in your heart, stolen from your neighbor, born false witness and lied more times than you could count, and you covet what doesn't belong to you.  The case against you is overwhelming.  You are, in fact, guilty.  You are a sinner.  You deserve both God's temporal and eternal punishment.

But, then steps in your Defense Attorney, who presents the scars in His hands, feet, and side as exhibit A, and God the Judge examines the evidence and renders the verdict, "Not guilty.”  Your case is decided in an instant.  No jury deliberations.  No further evidence or testimony is needed.  Those scars are all the defense you need, for those scars bear witness to the fact that all of your sins have been paid for in full.  You go scott free, as if you had never committed a single sin. 

The world will never understand this, my friends.  They follow the philosophy of the Pharisees and scribes, believing that righteousness is something achieved and earned by them.  But, our Lord's ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts.  His kingdom does not operate upon the principles of this dead and dying world.  In His kingdom, the first are last and the last are first, sinners go free and the self-righteous are convicted, the mighty are humbled and the humble are exalted.  He tends to His kingdom like a crazy Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine behind to go after the one lost sheep; like a loony lady who scours the house in search for the one lost coin.    

Jesus receives and eats with sinners.  He would readily receive and eat with Casey Anthony, or even the likes of Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Osama Bin Laden, were they to repent and trust in Him.  Scandalous, to be sure.  Crazy, even.  But, such is the way of our Savior, who is no respecter of persons and who desires the salvation of all. 

And this is the most glorious news for you, sinners all, for it means that Jesus receives and eats with you.  You don't have to prove yourself.  You don't have to earn your way.  You don't have to count your deeds or measure your faith.  He provides everything.  Jesus loves you.  He loves you perfectly, without conditions or fine print, without limit.  He loves you and forgives you because that is who He is and what He wants to do.  There is nothing left to pay.  He has made satisfaction for the sins of all men, reconciled them to His Father, put death to death and processed victorious out of the grave.  His perfect life is substituted for yours.  His perfect faith stands in your stead, pleads in His wounds to the Father and the Spirit on your behalf.  His perfect love fulfills all the Law for you.

Jesus receives and eats with sinners!  Blessed be His Name.  He provides the Food we need both for the support of this body and life and that which feeds and sustains the soul unto life everlasting:  His pierced Body triumphant from the tomb; His precious Blood shed forth to wash mankind clean, for you to eat and to drink.  Our Lord is the Lord of Creation and has joined Himself to creation in becoming a Man.  He took up our Flesh to make a physical and spiritual sacrifice of Himself for our sins.  He is still physical.  He rose from the dead in His Body.  He ascended in that Body to His Father's right hand.  Still, He comes to us in that Body.  For that Body, the Man Jesus, is united to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  He is true God.  He is not limited by time and space.  He comes to us here in this place as the exalted God-Man, our Savior, our Kinsman-Redeemer in the Flesh, alive out of death, crucified and risen.  He comes in this Body for us to eat, to be joined to Him physically and spiritually, for the washing of our sins and cleansing of our hearts.  In the Sacrament of the Altar Jesus receives and eats with sinners, changing them, transforming them, renewing them.  In the Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus receives and eats with you.

Come, then, dear friends, in repentance and faith, and dine with your Savior.  The feast is prepared, the Table is full-laden, ready to serve sinners like you.  Come, singing with joy:

Jesus sinners doth receive; Also I have been forgiven; And when I this earth must leave, I shall find an open heaven. Dying, still to Him I cleave: Jesus sinners doth receive.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.