Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus isn’t looking for the righteous. Jesus came to save sinners. After all, those who aren't sinners don't need a Savior. But wait! Aren't all people sinners? The Bible says so, but we tend to think we’re pretty good people. But we are sinners. Sinners don't fear, love and trust in God as they should. Sinners despise their neighbor and put themselves first. Those who confess that they are sinners recognize that they deserve nothing except the wrath of God. They know that they have nothing going for them but God's own mercy in Jesus. On the other hand, those who have no need of repentance don't think they're such bad people. They’re pretty sure they've got God all figured out and are pretty good at doing what He says. Jesus can't help those who believe they’re sinless. They will be on their own on the Last Day.
Those who are sinners crowd around Jesus to hear Him and His Word. Those who have no need of repentance complain that Jesus receives and eats with such people. But Jesus came to save sinners, to call them to repentance. And what is repentance? Repentance means being turned around. It means that the Spirit, by the preaching of the Word, turns you away from your sins to faith and trust in Christ. Repentance is the Lord's work. You can't repent on your own. You can't decide to turn away from your sins. Christ Himself calls you away from your sins by His Word and Sacraments.
The wasteful son lives a sinful life. When the bottom falls out, when he has to eat with the pigs, finally he realizes he can’t clean up his own mess. The only one who can fix his broken life, the only one who can love him, the only one who can restore him, is the same man against whom he sinned: his father. But he still thinks he can do it his way. He plans his fancy speech. He chooses his own position in the household.
But that’s not the way the father works. Before the son can approach the house, the father comes running to meet him. Before the son can do any more than confess his sin, the father restores him. He dresses him in the finest robe and prepares the fanciest of feasts—not because the son deserves it, but because the father loves his son that much. And our Father works the same way. The Lord comes to us through the water and Word of the font. Christ seeks us out and restores us by the preaching of the Gospel and the speaking of holy absolution. Christ provides His own body and blood as a rich feast for us to eat and drink. These things are His gifts for sinners. Those who have no need of repentance have no need to be baptized or absolved or fed with Christ’s body and blood. They may as well stay away. But you, sinners: if you have nothing going for you but Jesus, come to hear Him. Live in your baptism and feast at His Supper. That's what Jesus has for sinners.
If you don't have need of repentance; if you think you've got God all figured out; if you're convinced you're not perfect but you try hard; if you think you’re basically good—or at least, you're better than most other people; if you think God must be happy that such a person like you goes to church; then repent! Either weep and despair of yourself, or recognize that Jesus didn't come for you because you apparently don’t need His help. But if you know you are a sinner—if you don't love God as He commands; if you don't love your neighbor like you should; if you know that you deserve nothing from God but His eternal wrath and condemnation—then rejoice! Rejoice, because it is for such sinners that Jesus has come into this world. Through the merits of His Son, our Savior, Jesus, the Father runs to greet you with His hands outstretched to welcome you into His kingdom, to receive you with the fine baptismal robe of Christ’s righteousness, to welcome you to the rich feast of His own Son’s body and blood. What was lost, now is found! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.