Rogate Sunday (Sixth Sunday of Easter)

13Your name, O LORD, endures for- | ever,*
         your renown, O LORD, throughout
all | ages.

14For the LORD will vindicate his | people*
         and have compassion on his | servants.

15The idols of the nations are sil- | ver and gold,*
         the work of | human hands.

16They have mouths, but | do not speak;*
         they have eyes, but | do not see;

17they have ears, but | do not hear,*
         nor is there any breath | in their mouths.

18Those who make them be- | come like them,*
         so do all who | trust in them!

19O house of Israel, | bless the LORD!*
         O house of Aaron, | bless the LORD!

20O house of Levi, | bless the LORD!*
         You who fear the LORD, | bless the LORD!

21Blessèd be the LORD from | Zion,*
         he who dwells in Jerusalem! | Praise
the LORD!
         —Psalm 135:13–21

Additional Psalm: Psalm 60

Old Testament Reading:
Numbers 3:1–16, 39–48
The Sons of Aaron

1These are the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the LORD spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai. 2These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests. 4But Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron their father.

Duties of the Levites

5And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 6“Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. 7They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. 8They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle. 9And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel. 10And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.”

11And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12“Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, 13for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.”

14And the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, 15“List the sons of Levi, by fathers’ houses and by clans; every male from a month old and upward you shall list.” 16So Moses listed them according to the word of the LORD, as he was commanded.…

39All those listed among the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron listed at the commandment of the Lord, by clans, all the males from a month old and upward, were 22,000.

Redemption of the Firstborn

40And the LORD said to Moses, “List all the firstborn males of the people of Israel, from a month old and upward, taking the number of their names. 41And you shall take the Levites for me—I am the LORD—instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the people of Israel.” 42So Moses listed all the firstborn among the people of Israel, as the LORD commanded him. 43And all the firstborn males, according to the number of names, from a month old and upward as listed were 22,273.

44And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45“Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. The Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD. 46And as the redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the people of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites, 47you shall take five shekels per head; you shall take them according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel of twenty gerahs), 48and give the money to Aaron and his sons as the redemption price for those who are over.”

Additional Reading: Numbers 4:1–8:4

New Testament Reading:
Luke 14:25–15:10
The Cost of Discipleship

25Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Salt Without Taste Is Worthless

34“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15:1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3So he told them this parable: 4“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? 5And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

We cheerfully hold the old traditions made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and peace. We interpret them in a more moderate way and reject the opinion that holds they justify. … Among us many use the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day. They do so after they have been first instructed, examined, and absolved. The children sing psalms in order that they may learn. The people also sing so that they may either learn or pray. … Among us the pastors and ministers of the churches are encouraged publicly to instruct and hear the youth. This ceremony produces the best fruit. … In our churches all the sermons are filled with such topics as these: repentance; the fear of God; faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, the comfort of consciences by faith; the exercises of faith … the cross.… From this condition of the churches it may be determined that we earnestly keep Church discipline, godly ceremonies, and good Church customs.

We teach this about the putting to death of the flesh and discipline of the body. Just as the [Augsburg] Confession states, a true and not a false putting to death [mortification] happens through the cross and troubles, by which God exercises us. In them we must obey God’s will, as Paul says, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). They are the spiritual exercises of fear and faith. In addition to this putting to death, which happens through the cross, there is also a necessary, voluntary exercise. Christ says, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation” (Luke 21:34). And Paul says, “I discipline my body and keep it under control” (1 Corinthians 9:27), and so on. These exercises are to be accepted not because they are services that justify, but because they are assumed to control the flesh, should overindulgence overpower us, and make us secure and unconcerned. This results in people indulging and obeying the tendencies of the flesh. This effort [at mortification] should be constant because it has God’s permanent command.
         —Apology of the Augsburg Confession XV (VIII) 38, 40–41, 43–47

Jesus sinners doth receive;
         Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live
         And from God and heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve:
Jesus sinners doth receive.
         —Jesus Sinners Doth Receive
(LSB 609:1)

Prayer of the Day
O merciful Lord, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all. Grant us courage and strength to take up the cross and follow Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (C76)

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord VIII 88–96

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.