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Notes for Trinity 3 – Luke 15:1-10

by pastorjuhl ~ June 2nd, 2008

Pius Parsch, “The Church’s Year of Grace”

What does the picture of a shepherd with a lamb upon his shoulders symbolize?  Christ as the Redeemer.  A lamb has strayed from the flocks of God, has lost itself, has fallen among thorns.  That was mankind, which through sin lost paradise and grace.  Christ was sent into the world to fetch that lamb home.  He sought it, called it, yes, He placed Himself in the lion’s path to rescue it; He even was clawed to death.  But now with great love He is carrying it upon His shoulders into the heavenly corrals.  Thus the picture summarizes the work of Christ as the Redeemer of men.

In baptism the Good Shepherd found you and placed you upon His shoulders.  Baptism also was the occasion of which the Redeemer speaks in today’s Gospel, the great moment when the angels of God rejoiced upon one sinner [repenting].

Thus the Good Shepherd picture summarizes and reveals the fundamentals of Christianity concerning Christ the Redeemer – baptism, mystical union with God, the holy Eucharist.  And lastly, it tells of our blessed return home to heaven.  For the Good Shepherd carries the found sheep into the heavenly pastures.  This is the real reason why the picture was repeated so often in the catacombs, the burial places of the first Christians.  For it proclaimed to the faithful the glad tidings that after the afflictions of earthly life the Good Shepherd will carry the Christian soul into the great sheepfold of eternal beatitude.  This hope was so strong among the early Christians that they considered the sufferings of life, even the bloody death of martyrdom as trifling; they lived not only in faith and in love toward Christ Jesus, but with a glowing hope in eternal glory.  We modern Christians live all too much in the present and are too strongly attracted to things earthly.  May the Good Shepherd picture help develop in us something of the spirit of His primitive flock. (Vol. 4, p. 46-47)

Blessed Martin Luther

A truly Christian work is it that we descend and get mixed up in the mire of the sinner as deeply as he sticks there himself, taking his sin upon ourselves and floundering out of it with him, not acting otherwise than as if his sin were our own.  We should rebuke and deal with him in earnest; yet we are not to despise but sincerely to love him.  If you are proud toward the sinner and despise him, you are utterly damned. (Church Postils, Vol. 2, Part 2, p. 61)

Christ is both the shepherd and the woman; for He has lighted the lamp, that is, the Gospel, and He goes about in the desert, that is, the world.  He sweeps the house, and seeks the lost sheep and the lost piece of silver, when He comes with His Word and proclaims to us, first our sins, and then His grace and mercy. (op. cit., p. 63)

This Gospel contains the teaching we hold and boast of as our chief doctrine, which is called the true Christian teaching, namely, the doctrine of grace and forgiveness of sins, and Christian liberty from the Law. (op. cit., p. 67)

For when a man has lost this Shepherd and does not hear His Voice, it is with him exactly as with the lost sheep, which always wanders ever farther and farther from Him.  And though he even be allured and called by strange doctrines to run over to them and think it is coming to its shepherd, yet it does not find him, but always runs from one corner to another, and the longer it runs the farther it goes astray, and it has no comfort nor help, until it again hears the voice of its true Shepherd ringing in its ears. (op. cit., p. 85)

More to come….

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