This weekend Victory welcomes Guest Pastor Erik Sorensen to preach on the Parables of Jesus, in Scandalous Stories Pastor Sorensen will be focusing on Luke 15:1-10 and the meaning of the parables Jesus preached on in His earthly ministry.

Pr. Erik Sorensen

Scandalous Stories

Stand Alone Sermons
Luke 15:1-10
April 21, 2024
This weekend Victory welcomes Guest Pastor Erik Sorensen to preach on the Parables of Jesus, in Scandalous Stories Pastor Sorensen will be focusing on Luke 15:1-10 and the meaning of the parables Jesus preached on in His earthly ministry.

Good morning. Can you all hear me okay? Is the mic coming through? Okay, good, good. Our gospel reading for this morning and the sermon text for this morning is found in Luke chapter 15. We’re going to read verses 1 through 10. Luke 15, 1 through 10. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Him, Him being Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. Then Jesus told them this parable. 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? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. and over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent. Or, suppose a woman has 10 silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner.

This is the gospel of our Lord. Well, as Pastor Todd mentioned earlier, we have known each other for quite some time. Uh, as a matter of fact, uh, I won’t do the math for you, but we’ve, as he mentioned, he’s known me since I was 12 years old and I’m 46. So, uh, you know, you’ll, you’ll figure it out. Uh, and, uh, and, you know, Todd is, um, in many ways responsible for, uh, breeding in me a real desire to look not just within the church to love the people that are within the church, but to also look outside of the church and figure out creative ways that we can bring this gospel message to those who are outside. He’s always been like that. Matter of fact, the reason I, I met him when I was 12 is he, as a new pastor in the area at this church plant, was just trying to do everything he could to connect with the community. And so he actually agreed to sign up to be a camp counselor for junior high kids, uh, at a, at a island retreat center.And so I happened to be on that retreat, and he happened to be a counselor there, and that was the first time I met him. Uh, it wasn’t under necessarily the best circumstances, as the first time I met him, he was catching me and my friends trying to break into the girls cabin, but we don’t need to go into any more of that, uh, it’s fine, not a big deal, no big whoop, so, so yeah, Todd and I have a lot of history together, and I so appreciate what God is doing through him and through you here at Victory in Mesa.

Alright with that said, by way of introduction, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s message. Yeah. I think it’s pretty obvious when you read through the history of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels that it is a pretty common thing to read about all sorts of interesting and even odd people that are drawn to him. The language that Luke chooses to use in our passage, not just here, is tax collectors and sinners. Now, of course, tax collectors were despised by their fellow countrymen. They were seen as traitors, working for the empire that occupied them. extorting money from their neighbors. They were genuinely very, very hated. And then of course sinners were just a catch all term for anybody that was undesirable. And in the nation of Israel at the time, in Jerusalem at the time, there was a whole lot of people that qualified for that title of sinner and undesirable. On the other hand, the very next verse in our passage tells us That the most elite and most religious people’s response to this popularity of Jesus with sinners was not always good. The NIV has it they muttered. The ESV has it they grumbled. And why did they mutter? Why did they grumble? Because this man is always receiving sinners and eating with them. Now this was a big deal, and indeed it was scandalous. This was not something you were supposed to do. As a matter of fact, the word they use for welcomes these sinners is you receive them like a guest of honor. What is wrong with you? And you’re doing it all the time. If you’re really a Messiah to us, then certainly your standards for who you hang out with would be. And it’s in response to that complaint that Jesus tells the two parables that we just read.

So why is it that sinners and tax collectors and undesirables Would be drawn to Jesus. Well, I suppose the first thing we can see is he seeks them out while the religious establishment avoided them. The scholar William Barclay tells us at the time the Pharisees gave to people who did not keep the law a general classification. They called them the people of the land. And there was a complete barrier between the Pharisees and these so called people of the land. Here’s what some of their regulations said. Quote, So, entrust no money to these people of the land, take no testimony from these people of the land, trust them with no secret, do not appoint them guardian of an orphan, do not make them the custodian of charitable funds, do not accompany them on a journey, and if you can help it, have no business dealings with them at all. So you can see, there’s a pretty high wall of separation between these very holy Pharisees and all of these people of the land. Now, it’s easy for us to look back at the Pharisees with a sort of side eye of judgment. How could you be so exclusive? How could you forbid so many from hearing the message that God had to deliver?

But if we just think about it for a little bit, examine ourselves for a little bit, we realize that this same tendency can be found in us too. We’re prone to being tribal, whether it be over politics or Or religion, or denomination, whatever the case may be, it is very much ingrained in who we are. We like to determine who’s in, and who’s out. But that’s not how Jesus came. No, just look at the way he describes himself in the parables. What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety nine in the open country? And go after the one that is lost until he finds it. And again, what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin does not light a lamp and sweep the house seeking to find it. Now notice, please, a couple things here about Jesus approach. First of all, Jesus pictures humanity as lost. He does not seek to appeal to us by downplaying our condition. He does not say, well, you know, sometimes we do things against our better nature, or sometimes we just make little boo boos. No, no, he says it like it is. Humanity, every one of us, is indeed defined as lost in the Scriptures. Directionless, because naturally we don’t know what we’re meant for, so we are unable to find our way back to the fold on our own. Ironically, it was the Pharisees who had soft pedaled the true condition of mankind by making it seem as if they could somehow work their way back to God in and of their own strength.

That with enough work, with enough effort, they could somehow find themselves. And Jesus says, no, no, no, you’re You’re really lost and you need someone else to find you. You need me to find you. And that leads to the second thing I want you to notice in spite of humanity’s lostness, rebellious lostness, even. We are still extraordinarily valuable to God. Sinners are drawn to Jesus because He lets them know that. He has dinner with them. He invites them to become His disciples. He fellowships with them. When I planted the church in New York City, that’s how we began. I basically spent the first year and a half going out on the streets of New York City and talking to strangers virtually every single day. And as I talked to them and hoped to lead them to Jesus, I would invite them over to my apartment and we’d have a meal. What I found almost all the time when I would reach out to people and talk to them on the streets of New York is that about 75 percent of the time they were more than happy to have a conversation. You know why? Because they liked being listened to. It’s pretty remarkable how often we go through life not being heard. But when people genuinely feel like someone cares to hear their story, it’s kind of remarkable how much they tend to be drawn to those who want to hear their story. This is what Jesus did. Walker Percy once said, We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away. That is Jesus. That is Jesus. As he said in Matthew’s Gospel, I have come to seek the lost. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

So it makes good sense to me that sinners would be drawn to somebody that even though he knows all of their shortcomings and failures, still seeks them out and loves them. The second reason we see that sinners were drawn to Jesus in our parables is because Jesus saves them whereas religious people condemn them. When Jesus the shepherd in our parable finds the sheep, he doesn’t scold the sheep for his many wandering ways. Though it is the sheep’s own fault for straying from the rest of the flock, he doesn’t get down and lecture him first. He doesn’t make sure that he knows how much work it took for him to find him. Because the sheep is too weak, in fact, the shepherd takes the sheep upon his shoulders and walks him back to the fold. The shepherd is not full of anger, but merely rejoices that he’s found his lost sheep. Yes, this is, this is why sinners would be certainly open to having a meal with Jesus. This is the way He works. When He finds a sinner, He welcomes him or her with open and tenderly carries them home, even though they do not deserve it at all. Speaking of not deserving, I I love this story from one of the founders of the organization I work for, 1517. His name is Dr. Rod Rosenblatt. He just recently actually went home to be with his lord. Rod tells a story of a time when he was a teenage boy hanging out with some friends and he decided to take a joyride in his dad’s car. You know how this story ends, don’t you? It’s not good. It’s not good. Goes on a joyride, ends up in the ditch. On top of this, to make it even worse, Rod had been drinking.

Well, thankfully, no one was injured in the accident. Everybody was fine, but Rod was humiliated and ashamed and terrified of what punishments awaited him. Most of all, he was terrified of seeing his father. The worst fear he had was disappointing his father. Well, of course, the police show up and find out all the details of what he had done. And And Rod is bawling his eyes out, and his father shows up, picks him up, brings him in the car, and says nothing. And he continues to say nothing. That might be the worst punishment of all. I’ve experienced that. I’m like, I’ll gladly take a spanking over this silent stuff. Please! Nevertheless, Rod’s dad was They get home, Rod goes into his father’s study. He is still weeping. He is terrified and ashamed. And after A number of moments, his father walks into the study to his weeping son and says some of the most surprising words Rod had ever heard in his life. He said, how about tomorrow we go out and get you a new car? I’ve, I’ve got kids. I don’t know if I’d say that. Nevertheless, This illustrates how our Lord deals with us, his lost sheep. He looks at us in our mess and says, How about tomorrow we go and get you a new car? And you think about what the Father did here. He takes the cost of his son’s sins upon himself. He would be the one that had to pay for the wrecked car.

He would be the one that had to pay for the new car. For grace to be offered to one, The other must take an enormous sacrifice. That is precisely what Jesus does to give His lost sheep, to receive or retrieve His lost sheep and His lost coin. At enormous personal pain and anguish, He takes the penalty for our sin at His cross, and through His resurrection, gives us undeserved eternal life for free to us, but costly to Him, astonishing. Unbelievable grace. Of course, in contrast to this, the religious leaders of the day saw events like this not as an opportunity to extend grace, but to exert power. Punishment. According to one scholar, the saying at the time was not, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. No, no. But the saying at the time was, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who is obliterated by God. You see how revolutionary. Jesus’s words are. Now, to be fair, Rod said that every time he would tell that story, there would inevitably be some people that would come up to him at the end, and they’d say, you know, I just can’t believe your dad let you get away with that. He should have used that time to teach you responsibility. And in response, Rod would always chuckle. And he’d say, do you think I didn’t know what I’d done? Do you think it wasn’t the most painful moment of my whole life up to that point? I was ashamed. I was scared. My father spoke grace to me in a moment that I knew I deserved wrath and I came alive

Yeah, that’s that’s why sinners liked eating dinner with jesus. Thirdly. Jesus rejoices over sinners. Whereas religious people You may have noticed that word is used an awful lot in the ten verses we read. He finds his sheep, he rejoices. He calls his friends to tell him to rejoice with him. Same thing with a woman. Rejoicing, rejoicing, rejoicing, and more rejoicing! Why? Because it turns out that’s how God feels about his creation. Can you, can you believe what the scriptures say? That he sings over his sheep? His people with joy. Can you believe that about a holy and almighty God that his love for you is like that? And yet even as Jesus is telling this almost too wonderful to believe truth about God He is also implicitly saying to the religious leaders of the day. Why didn’t you tell them? Why did you present God as if he only hated? Everyone out there In Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew, he tells of a prostitute that had gone to a counselor friend of his for help. And in the process of her talk with the counselor, she had confessed all sorts of absolutely awful and terrible things that she had done, not only to herself, but to her child in order to support her drug habit. The counselor was dumbfounded as to what to say. And so he just kind of blurted out, even unconsciously, Have you ever thought about going to a church for help? And the woman looked stunned at the suggestion. And then after a little bit, she, she said, Church, I already feel terrible about myself. Why, why would I go there? I want, I want to grab this person, those people. I want, I want those who feel like, uh, most of the time, based on a very poor perception, but nevertheless, they feel Like, the church is a place where they’re not going to be welcomed, or they’re not going to be received, or they’re going to be too ashamed, and they’re going to be seen, and if they are really seen, then oh my goodness, what could happen then?

And I just want to say to these people, come here. Come to victory in Mesa. Come here. Yes, you have been lost, and you have done maybe terrible, terrible things. Yes, maybe you’re filled to the brim with regret, and yes, maybe it will be the case that. Not all of us are always going to know how to deal with some of the stories that you tell because it might be a little shocking. And so forgive us if we don’t always know how to receive everything but we don’t mean it because we know Jesus came to save sinners and only sinners. And believe it or not, He rejoices over you. God has a party waiting for you at His home. And through Jesus perfect life, death, and resurrection, He’s done everything necessary to bring you home. He has repented you. After all, the sheep and the coin can’t get found. Without him first finding them. Yeah, it makes all the sense in the world. With a messiah like that, why sinners and tax collectors would be drawn to having dinner with him. To coming home. I’ll close with this. I heard a story a while back from a pastor named Ray Cortese about a friend of his, who also was a pastor in Chicago. He had a son who was a really great kid. Up to about 19, 20 years old. He had always kind of done what he was told and got good grades, et cetera. But then right around 20 started distancing himself from the family. More and more, he was gone more and more. He seemed to isolate himself and have kind of a bad attitude. Eventually it became clear that he had fallen under the spell of addiction. He was fully into all of the drug culture. And so it didn’t take long before he decided to move out with his family. with his friends so that he could do drugs without getting the judgmental glare of anyone in his home.

Sure enough, he moves to like downtown Chicago, you know, in some kind of slum house and, you know, he’s able to just get high. One night, his dad, Saturday night, late into Sunday morning, gets a call from the local jail. Man on the other end of the line says, we have your son in jail, can you come pick him up? Dad rushes over to the jail, goes to the front office, asks for his son. And the person there says, we have no one here by that name. Well, the dad is panicked a little bit and doesn’t understand what’s going on. And he thinks, well, I haven’t seen my son in quite some time, but I do know the last address that he was at, and so I’m gonna go see if he, at least he’s safe there. So he heads to, into the city, in the middle of the night, and arrives at the house. And it looks exactly what you’d expect a, a house like that to look like. Broken windows, door wide open, um, Inside the house, there’s just mattresses kind of splayed out, all dirty, old mattresses, and there’s people laying all over, strung out on drugs. The father looks around in the room, and sees off in a corner, his son is sleeping. He quietly walks over to his son, over the other people that are in the house, bends down, and kisses him. Then he walks out without saying a word. A few months later, his son, out of the blue, suddenly starts showing up at the house again. The End Little by little and then again and again and before long he’s moving back in and he’s clean. He’s healed He’s no longer The dad, of course, wants to know why. What has happened? What has changed? But it takes him a little time to get there. And so finally, finally, he says, Son, what brought you home? And his son said, Dad, you don’t know? Dad, it was that night. You know, that night that you got the call about me being arrested, well, I’m ashamed to admit it, but that was a prank that my friends and I pulled on you. I remember laughing with them, thinking about you going to the jail and not finding me. I never dreamt in a million years you were gonna come to the house. I just happened to be looking out the window and I saw you walking down the street and I freaked out. I immediately laid down and pretended to be asleep. I never dreamt that you’d come in the house and then you came in the house. So I did my best to pretend I was asleep and apparently it worked. But nevertheless, as you got closer, I was certain you were going to kick me, but instead you kissed me. That’s what changed me. So whether you’ve been sitting in chairs like this your whole life, or whether you’re not even a Christian, the call today is the same from your Savior. Whether you come in here today, completely laid out by guilt and shame over your failures and over your regrets in life, I assure you, the call is the same. Come home. The door is open to all. In Christ, your sins are forgiven, and He has a party waiting. Amen.

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Follow Jesus

Whether you are new in faith or are seeking to deepen your walk with Jesus, we are eager to connect with you.

Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.

GriefShare

The GriefShare Program is a 13-week series of videos that we watch each week of the meeting. Each weekly GriefShare group begins with a 30-minute video featuring respected experts on grief-related topics and helpful stories from people who have experienced loss. Their insights will help you manage your emotions, gain clarity, and find answers to your questions as you walk through the grief process. We welcome everyone who has a loss; whether it be a child or a parent or spouse.

The videos are followed by discussion. Talking with other people who understand what you’re experiencing brings great comfort, normalizes the grief experience, and offers a supportive environment to work through your grief.

Each session stands alone, so you can join anytime. Consider a single session to learn about the program.

We meet every Monday from 12:30-2:30pm here at Victory.
Check out the schedule.

Sign up today!

Do you have more questions? 
Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.
Learn more about GriefShare at their webpage: www.griefshare.org.

WOMEN’S MINISTRY

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study.

Summer Schedule (May-Sept): 2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am

Winter Schedule (Oct-April): 2nd Tuesday of the month

Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am

Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)


Women’s Ministry

PURPOSE STATEMENT

As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Women’s Ministry

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    FAMILY PROMISE

    Four times a year we host families experiencing homelessness at Victory for a week at a time. Volunteers needed to set up rooms, preparing a meal, serve/clean-up dinner or stay as an overnight host.

    Upcoming Host Weeks: April 16-23, 2023 & November 112-19, 2023

    STEPHEN MINISTRY

    Stephen Ministers are lay congregation members trained to provide one-to-one care to those experiencing a difficult time in life. 

    GRIEFSHARE

    A grief recovery support group where you can find help and healing for the hurt of losing a loved one.

    13-week Program: Mondays, 12:30-2:30pm, February 13-May 8, 2023
    (No meeting April 10th)
    GriefShare.org

    LSS-SW

    Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW)

    I-HELP PROGRAM: We provide a safe and secure place for women who are currently experiencing homelessness the 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month.

    FOOD PANTRY: Food boxes distributed Mondays & Wednesdays, 9:00-11:30am.
    Utility & rental assistance by appointment only 480-654-4539.

    Victory Quilters

    We meet the 3rd Tuesday and Wednesday of the month at 8:30am. Come when you can, stay as long as you can; everyone can cut, sew, pin and tie knots. You do not need to be a church or circle member to attend. Bring a friend! The quilts are donated to Navajo Lutheran Mission, Orchard: Africa and Lutheran Social Ministries. We typically break for the summer. Please check schedule.

    MUSIC MINISTRY

    Ensembles at Victory practice weekly during the high season to prepare for weekly worship and special events. In addition, many people share their talents individually. Click here for our concert line-up!

    NAVAJO LUTHERAN MISSION

    Serving the Navajo community of Rock Point, AZ, a remote, isolated village near the Four Corners. The Mission campus includes a K-2 private Christian school, clinic, cultural center, water project and food bank.  (nelm.org)

    FAIR TRADE

    Victory Women support Lutheran World Relief (lwr.org) by selling Fair Trade hand-made crafts, jewelry, coffee and tea that generates income for small-scale businesses in third world countries. 

    OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

    A “shoebox ministry” of Samaritan’s Purse, delivering gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls around the world.

    ORCHARD: AFRICA

    To equip the church to respond to poverty & injustice, thereby caring for the vulnerable using four programs: Food & Agriculture, Care, Education and Ministry.  (orchardafrica.org)

    Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    WOMEN’S MINISTRY

    Welcome to the vibrant women’s ministry at Victory Lutheran Church! As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are committed to growing in faith, affirming our gifts, and supporting one another in our callings. Our purpose is to engage in ministry and action, promoting healing and wholeness in the church, society, and the world. At Victory Lutheran Church, our women’s ministry provides a nurturing and empowering space for women of all ages to connect, grow, and serve together. Through uplifting worship, inspiring Bible studies, enriching events, and impactful service opportunities, we equip women to live out their God-given purpose and embrace their unique gifts. Join us as we journey together, fostering fellowship, spiritual growth, and making a lasting impact within our church, our families, and our wider community.

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ,  and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

    • 2nd Tuesday of the month
    • Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am
    • Naomi Bible Study – 2:00pm
    • Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)