Kruiz edited
The Lost Sheep
Monday of Holy Week
26 March 2018
If Jesus is the good Shepherd, then we must remain the lost sheep found by Him. If we are finding the Shepherd, then we can no longer call Him the "good." We will be forced to call Him the lost Shepherd and ourselves the good sheep. This is a true transvaluation of values, in which the sheep become good and the Shepherd is called lost. Such a transvaluation of values is actually laughable when it is put in such stark terms. Could we conceive of the sheep being brought back to the fold, dirty, bleeding, bedraggled, in the arms of the shepherd, and then claiming to his fellows: "Look, I have found and returned that poor shepherd to the fold. If I hadn't gone out looking for him he would never have found his way back here, poor lost man. It was a good thing that I pretended to be gone astray and cast down so I would be able to rescue him from the wilderness." How his flock would laugh him to scorn and mock him for this ridiculous pretense.
 
This is the ridiculous contention of people who claim to have "found Christ." I was unaware that God had declared Him missing, or in need of our rescue. Such a contention is deserving of our gentle ridicule like the sheep who "finds" the shepherd. Satan tries to worm his way into the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd, so that just at the point in which God has worked His gracious will, there is the poisonous injection of work righteous talk on the part of the sheep found by Christ, who now crows, "I found Jesus!" Satan just loves it that you have taken the pride of place from the good Shepherd. While this may be a kind of weak or confused talk on the part of the saved person, it still turns the gospel onto its head. The gospel turned onto its head is the law and cannot save.
 
When people say to me, "I found Jesus," I reply as gently as I might, "Oh, I didn't know He was lost. Where did you find Him?" Usually, this elicits a self-deprecating smile. "No, of course. I did not find the lost Shepherd. The good Shepherd found me, the lost sheep." We must not turn over the values of the holy gospel with the false contention that we found the shepherd. To argue for our finding God is a breach of the First Commandment in which we have not just taken on the divine task of seeking and saving, but in the highest blasphemy, finding God Himself. If the Lord is my Shepherd, this I shall want to avoid. No, I want to be found by such a Shepherd!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"You lost sheep cannot find your way to the Shepherd yourself but can only roam around in the wilderness. If Christ, your Shepherd, did not seek you and bring you back, you would simply have to fall prey to the wolf. But now He comes, seeks, and finds you. He takes you into His flock, that is, into Christendom, through the Word and the Sacrament. He gives His life for you, keeps you always on the right path, so that you may not fall into error. You hear nothing at all about your powers, good works, and merits; unless you would say that it is strength, good works, merit when you run around in the wilderness and are defenseless and lost. No, Christ alone is active here, merits things, and manifests His power. He seeks, carries, and directs you. He earns life for you through His death. He alone is strong and keeps you from perishing, from being snatched out of His hand (Jn 10:28). For all of this you can do nothing at all but only lend your ears, hear, and with thanksgiving receive the inexpressible treasure, and learn to know well the voice of your Shepherd, follow Him, and avoid the voice of the stranger.
 
"If you wish, therefore, to be richly supplied in both body and soul, then above all give careful attention to the voice of this Shepherd, listen to His words, let Him feed, direct, lead, protect, and comfort you. That is, hold fast to His Word, hear and learn it gladly, for then you will be well supplied in both body and soul.
 
"From what has been said up to this point, one can, I hope, easily understand these words, 'The Lord is my Shepherd' (Ps 23:1), and indeed the whole psalm. The words 'The Lord is my Shepherd' are brief but also very impressive and apt. The world glories and trusts in honor, power, riches, and the favor of men. Our psalm, however, glories in none of these, for they are all uncertain and perishable. It says briefly, 'The Lord is my Shepherd.' Thus speaks a sure, certain faith, that turns its back on everything temporal and transitory, however noble and precious it may be, and turns its face and heart directly to the Lord, who alone is Lord and is and does everything. 'He and none other, be he a king or an emperor, is my Shepherd,' the psalmist says." 

 Martin Luther, Psalm 23, 23.1
Luke 15:1-7

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." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, grant that in the midst of our failures and weaknesses we may be restored through the passion and intercession of Your only-begotten Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
 
For all those before whose eyes Jesus Christ would be publicly portrayed as crucified during Holy week, that begun by the Spirit they might be completed by faith
 
For President Donald Trump, that the Lord would guard him and lead him in ways that are good and God pleasing
 
For all those who are suffering deprivation of the necessities of this life, that God would rescue them from poverty and starvation by using us
 
For those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior, that the Holy Spirit would use the preaching of Christ to bring them into the church
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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