Jesus finally gets around to something that is a little more palatable after spending weeks bashing on family, money, and all the other things I hold dear. I can finally preach the easier sermon about a good shepherd finding a lost sheep and this woman who rejoices about finding a lost coin. (Apparently, Jesus is not entirely against money!)
As usual, however, a deeper dive into the text reveals that what seems like an easy text has unexpected fangs. Jesus has two audiences in this week’s Gospel reading. There are the sinners and tax collectors sitting at his feet and there are the scribes and teachers of the Law who are grumpily standing on the fringe of this gathering. They are grousing about the presence of the sinners and tax collectors. Jesus speaks two familiar parables which feature lost things: first a sheep who is lost outside, in the fields, and then a coin which is lost inside the house. Apparently those outside can be lost and those who are inside. Is that me? I am inside the house, or at least I imagine that I am inside God’s household of faith. Jesus’ summations/interpretations of the parables are terrifying for the crabby bunch on the edge of this crowd. God is happy when the lost are found. The angels are happy when the lost are found. The scribes and teachers of the law are not happy. You can draw your own conclusions, but if God is happy and you are not happy, it is time to reassess your attitude.
Does this mean that the scribes who clearly think they are inside are just as lost as sinners who now gather at Jesus feet and rejoice at his gracious words? I think so. Can confident Christians, folks who attend church every week, folks who put offerings in plates, also be lost inside the house? Michael Gerson recently posted an op ed in the Washington Post. In it he brutally summarizes a number of issues with American conservative Christianity. You might want to read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/michael-gerson-evangelical-christian-maga-democracy/