Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pentecost 17 C - Luke 15:1-10

I wonder if there was someone in the grumbling crowd who thought the carpenter from Nazareth would make a lousy shepherd. No one leaves the ninety-nine to fend for themselves in the wilderness to search for the one who is lost unless you don’t mind losing at least a few of the ninety-nine. But then with Jesus the point is always in the punch line. There is rejoicing in finding the one who is lost. So Jesus will lose more than a few Pharisees and scribes in order to find a lost tax collector or sinner. But that isn't the point either is it? I don’t believe Jesus is being sarcastic when he refers to Pharisees and scribes as righteous. No. If he meant to criticize he’d call them a brood of vipers or white washed tombs. Here he acknowledges the hard work of righteous piety that requires no repentance but in typical Jesus fashion I think it is a set up for what comes next. The story that follows the lost sheep and the coin is the one about two lost sons and a waiting father. The hard working stay at home first son who doesn't realize all the father has is already his and the lost and found younger son who didn't know what he had until he’d left it all behind. It is for these two lost children that Jesus comes. The righteous Pharisee who works so hard for what is free and the tax collector who gives away everything of value to get what is worthless. But of course the point is in the punch line and when the righteous ninety-nine find the lost sinner and the lost sinner finds the righteous ninety-nine then both are found by God because there is as much joy in being found as in finding.

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