Monday of Easter 6

6The LORD works | righteousness*
         and justice for all who | are oppressed.

7He made known his ways to | Moses,*
         his acts to the people of | Israel.

8The LORD is merciful and | gracious,*
         slow to anger and abounding
         in | steadfast love.

9He will not | always chide,*
         nor will he keep his anger for- | ever.

10He does not deal with us according | to our sins,*
         nor repay us according to
our in- | iquities.

11For as high as the heavens are a- | bove the earth,*
         so great is his steadfast love toward those who | fear him;

12as far as the east is | from the west,*
         so far does he remove our
transgres- | sions from us.

13As a father shows compassion to his | children,*
         so the LORD shows compassion to those who | fear him.

14For he | knows our frame;*
         he remembers that | we are dust.
         —Psalm 103:6–14

Additional Psalm: Psalm 70

Old Testament Reading:
Numbers 8:5–26
Cleansing of the Levites

5And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 6“Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. 7Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. 8Then let them take a bull from the herd and its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. 9And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. 10When you bring the Levites before the LORD, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, 11and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the LORD. 12Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the LORD to make atonement for the Levites. 13And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as a wave offering to the LORD.

14“Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. 15And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. 16For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. 17For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, 18and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel. 19And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary.”

20Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them. 21And the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the LORD, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.

Retirement of the Levites

23And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24“This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”

New Testament Reading: Luke 15:11–32
The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Our election to eternal life is founded not on our godliness or virtue, but on Christ’s merit alone and His Father’s gracious will. He cannot deny Himself [2 Timothy 2:13], because He is unchangeable in will and essence [Hebrews 6:17–18]. Therefore, when His children depart from obedience and stumble, He has called them to repentance again through the Word, and the Holy Spirit wants by the Word to be effective in them for conversion. When they turn to Him [Jeremiah 31:18–19] again in true repentance by a right faith, He will always show His old paternal heart to all who tremble at His Word and from their heart turn again to Him, as it is written:

If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; [yet return again to Me,] declares the LORD.
(Jeremiah 3:1)

Furthermore, the declaration in John 6:44 is right and true, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” However, the Father will not do this without means, but has ordained His Word and Sacraments for this purpose as ordinary means and instruments. It is not the will of the Father or of the Son that a person should not hear or should despise the preaching of His Word and wait for the drawing of the Father without the Word and Sacraments. For the Father draws indeed by the power of His Holy Spirit. However, He works according to His usual way. He works by the hearing of His holy, divine Word, as with a net [Matthew 13:47–48], by which the elect are plucked from the devil’s jaws. Every poor sinner should therefore attend to the Word, hear it attentively, and not doubt the Father’s drawing. For the Holy Spirit will be with His Word in His power, and will work by it. That is the Father’s drawing.
         —Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord XI 75–77

A feast of love for us You are preparing;
         We who were lost, You give an honored place!

“Come, eat; come, drink, and be no more despairing—
         Here taste again the treasures of My grace.”
         —As Rebels, Lord, Who Foolishly Have Wandered (LSB 612:3)

Prayer of the Day
Lord God, our heavenly Father, You stood afar off, waiting to see Your prodigals appear at the gate. Then, running to us, You overwhelmed us with grace and invited us to sit at table, to rejoice at our homecoming. Help us to repent of our sins and strip us of every thought that we might merit Your salvation. Then bring us home to be with You at the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (1021)

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord IX and X 1–4