Worship Helps for Pentecost 17

Artwork: Lost Coin
Artist: Domenico Fetti

Worship Theme: The believer loves the lost like Christ. The righteous live by faith; yet how easy it is for the righteous to slip into self-righteous judgment of other sinners, forgetting the grace that has been shown them. Today Christ calls us to love the lost like he does and rejoice over every sinner that “once was lost, but now is found.”

Old Testament: Exodus 32:7-14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” 11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

1. How did the Israelites sin against God and test his patience?

2. Summarize Moses’ prayer to God on behalf of the Israelites.

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 2:5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent-- not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven-- if there was anything to forgive-- I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

3. Paul had encouraged the Corinthians to exclude a man from the congregation for engaging in incest. Now he had to encourage them to do something else. What had this man done? What did Paul encourage the Corinthians to do?

4. Satan’s schemes can twist even the act of repentance into an opportunity to plunge a soul into the depths of despair. Before, Paul had to warn the Corinthians because they did not want to point out the man’s sin. What does Paul have to warn the Corinthians about now?

Gospel: Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

5. What was ironic about the statement that the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law muttered?

6. What do these two parables spoken by Jesus emphasize?



Answers:
1. As Moses is on top of Mt. Sinai with God, the Israelites sin against God and test his patience by building a golden calf. They then begin to worship it and offer sacrifices to the idol.

2. In asking for God’s patience, Moses reminds God of the promises he made to deliver his people from the Egyptians. If God were to destroy the Israelites, the Egyptians would be able to see that God didn’t keep his promises to his chosen people.

3. The man had repented. Paul advised them to forgive the man and warmly receive him back into their fellowship.

4. Paul does not want the repentant man’s heart trampled by self-righteous hypocrites. The congregation should show Christ’s love for the lost. Forgiveness and comfort are to be given to the penitent heart rather than heaping guilt over the sinner’s head and robbing the contrite heart of the joy of salvation. 

5. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were amazed that Jesus would eat with “sinners” like prostitutes and tax collectors. What they failed to see was that they were just as guilty of sinning against God as the other “sinners” were.

6. These two parables emphasize that value that God places on each individual soul. May we be led to value people’s souls just as much and share the soul-saving news of the free forgiveness that is found in Christ with all people!



Putting your faith into action
The Israelites were eager to exchange the Father’s presence for a non-God. Then they gave the statue credit for God’s grace (and consider how much they paid for it)! We shake our heads: How could they? But what if we change the golden calf into our own aspirations and achievements, or our own money, or the wealth we wish we had? God’s anger burns, but with amazing grace he is faithful to his promise and punishes his Son instead. The wealth we employ in his service isn’t wasted. Satan used Israel’s riches as a tool to draw them away from God. God uses our riches as a tool to draw us and others ever closer to him.




A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 17
The term repentance is not used in the Holy Scriptures in one and the same sense.  In some passages of Holy Scripture it is used and taken to mean a person’s entire conversion. For example, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).  And, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7).  But in Mark 1:15 and elsewhere, when repentance and faith in Christ (Acts 20:21), or repentance and forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:46–47), are mentioned as distinct, to repent means nothing other than to truly acknowledge sins, to be heartily sorry for them, and to stop doing them.  This knowledge comes from the Law.  It is not enough for saving conversion to God if faith in Christ is not added.  The comforting preaching of the Holy Gospel offers His merits to all penitent sinners who are terrified by the preaching of the Law.  The Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of sins, not to coarse and self-secure hearts, but to the bruised or penitent.  The preaching of the Gospel must be added so that the repentance may lead to salvation and not to the Law’s contrition or terrors.

Merely preaching the Law, without Christ, either makes proud people, who imagine that they can fulfill the Law by outward works, or forces them utterly to despair.  Therefore, Christ reveals His wrath from heaven on all sinners and shows how great it is. – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V, The Law and the Gospel (paragraphs 7-10)


Hymns: 304; 385; 388; 379


1  Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see.

2  The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures.

3  Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

4  When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.

Text: John Newton, 1725–1807, st. 1-3, abr.; John P. Rees, 19th century, st. 4.


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