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The Son of Man Came to Seek and Save the Lost

St. Matthew 13.44-52


Pentecost 6, Proper 12, series A
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Jul 24, 2011 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 In St. Luke's gospel, we hear our Lord say:

[St. Luke 19.10]

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.

In our gospel for today, we hear Christ explain just what that means with three stories, or parables.  The first two go like this:

[St. Matthew 13. 44-46]

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

2 These parables of Christ, like all parables, are earthly stories with a heavenly point.  We can all relate to someone who finds a buried treasure and then keeps it secret until he can gather the necessary resources to bring it home.  Likewise, we can all relate to a person who seeks out nice jewelry, and when he finds the most beautiful gem of all, does whatever it takes to secure it and bring it home.  Very earthly ideas.  The heavenly point is this: Christ our Lord came to seek and save and the lost.

3 In these stories, the man who uncovers the hidden treasure, and the merchant who finds the pearl of great price none other than Jesus Christ our Lord.  The hidden treasure, the pearl, those represent us, the children of God.  Christ came in search of us when he took on flesh from the blessed Virgin.  Christ came in search of us as he walked through Judea and Galilee with his disciples.  When Christ cured the sick and healed the lame, he was digging up his buried treasure.  When he drove out demons and raised the dead, he was buying his pearl of great price.  And as he died on the cross, he gave up everything he had, to make sure each of us, who are his prized possessions would be brought safely home into the glorious kingdom of heaven.  In the kingdom of heaven, the king goes out in search of what has been lost, and when he finds them, he gives up everything to make sure they come home, for he has come to seek and save the lost.

4 The pattern of Christ's' work still applies to us today.  No, we do not live in the time when Christ first walked the earth and brought the kingdom into the lives of his disciples and so many others.  But Christ does still come in search of us today.  By his holy Word, like the parables we heard today, Christ comes searching for us who are lost.  In his holy sacraments, Christ comes among us and offers us the same gifts he gave to those he healed and exorcised and raised from the dead.  Through the Word and Sacraments, Christ gives us forgiveness of our sins, life that never ends, and the salvation of our souls, just as he did those whom he touched some 2000 years ago.  Why?  Because as our Savior, Christ has come to seek and save us, who are lost.

5 What a blessing it is that he does so, for we stand in need of being found, just as sure as anyone.  Like a treasure hidden in a field, we lie underneath the weighty burden of our sin.  Like a precious gem, hidden in a jewelers closet, we sit separated from our God who longs to have us with him, instead of hidden away.  Ever since Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, we have been separated from our God.  And only Christ can bring us back home.  So the Holy Spirit holds up these stories of our Savior today and reminds us that Christ is searching for us, calling for us, and ready to reveal everything he has done to bring us safely into his heavenly kingdom.  For these stories reveal that Christ came not just for the lost of 2000 years ago, but to seek and save the lost among us, here today.

6 These stories give us a glimpse of what we pray for, when we pray, "Thy kingdom come."  Luther tells us what this means:

[Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer: The Second Petition]

the kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.

How does god's kingdom come?

God's kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

7 Once Christ finds us, he gives us his Holy Spirit.  The same Holy Spirit who is at work through the Word of Scripture this morning; revealing the work of Christ as he searches for us; is at work among us as well.  By the Holy Spirit, Christ reveals what he has done for us.  By the Holy Spirit, we learn that Christ has found us.  By the Holy Spirit, we learn that Christ has given his very life upon the cross for our sake.  By the Holy Spirit, we learn that Christ has brought us safely into his kingdom, just as he has brought the glory of his kingdom into our midst.  And by the Holy Spirit, Christ grants us faith.  Faith that sees him as the one who seeks us out and brings us out of sin.

8 Just as he brought Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, Christ brings us out of our bondage unto sin and brings us into his grace.  This is how God has always worked, and how he works today.  Thus we heard Moses earlier today:

[Deuteronomy 7.6-8]

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.  the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

9 Because he loves us, Christ has chosen us to be his treasured possession.  Not because we are great in number or accomplished in good works.  But because he has promised on oath to bring us out of our slavery and bondage to sin, he seeks us out and finds us.  All in love for us.  When Christ told these stories about the kingdom, surely he intended to bring this promise of God the Father to mind in his hearers.  So today we recall that by his love, Christ seeks us out.  By his love, Christ redeemed us by giving up all he has, even his life.  And by his love, Christ has promised to lead us out of this vale of tears and into the promised land of heaven above.

10 That's exactly the point of the last parable he tells in our gospel for today. 

[St. Matthew 13.47-50]

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.  When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.  so it will be at the close of the age.  the angels will come out and separate the the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

11 While we live this life, we live among danger and evil all the time.  But as those found by Christ we are sustained by his grace and his Holy Spirit.  At the close of the age, we will experience fully our deliverance into the kingdom of heaven.  Until that time, we give thanks that Christ has sought us.  We give thanks that he has found us.  And we give thanks that by his grace, we have been brought safely home in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that Christ our Savior, indeed has sought us out, saved us from certain death and damnation, and redeemed us, so that we are lost no more, but forgiven and restored children of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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