Sermon Recording for Last Sunday of the Church Year – November 22, 2020

+ Last Sunday of the Church Year – November 22nd, 2020 +

Series A: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 2024; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Last Day is all about Jesus”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

When the End Times come up in conversations, movies, or stories, it’s depicted as a frightening event. Zombie apocalypse. Alien invasions. Doom and gloom. Death and destruction. Or like the Allstate commercial says…mayhem.

 

And at first, it might sound like Jesus’ teaching of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 is no different. But it is. Matthew 25 is all about Jesus. And if it’s all about Jesus, it’s meant to bring you comfort as we live in the End Times; as we come to this Last Sunday of the Church Year.

 

If we get our End Times theology from the world around us, all we’ll have is despair, dread, and death.

But, if when Jesus gives us His End Times theology, he fills us with joy, hope, and life. On the Last Day, as today, everything depends on Jesus.

 

To be sure, Jesus’ teaching on the sheep and the goats features the same two important ingredients all of his end times teaching: warning and promise. But don’t lose sight of Jesus promise. You are His righteous, beloved sheep. You have inherited a kingdom that God prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.

 

As we hear Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25, he calls us to be like a driver, keep our eyes on the road; like a hiker eyes on the trail ahead; like Luke Skywalker in his x-wing fighter…stay on target. In Matthew 25, Jesus keeps our ears, eyes, hearts, and minds fixed on him and his promises.

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 

 

Right away Jesus reveals something important here. Notice that Jesus the Shepherd King doesn’t separate the sheep and goats on the basis of works, on what they’ve done, but rather who they are. Their identity and relationship to the Shepherd. The good works aren’t mentioned until later.

 

Jesus’ end times teaching always reveal something important. Last week, Jesus revealed himself as the good and gracious master. This week he reveals himself in three Old Testament images. Jesus is the Son of Man of Daniel 7, the promised Messiah who receives an everlasting dominion through his death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus is the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 and Ezekiel 34 who lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus is the King who is crowned with thorns and enthroned on the cross and then rose and ascended to bring you into his kingdom, his good and gracious reign.

 

Matthew 25 reveals who Jesus is for you. Son of Man. Shepherd. King. And just as important as who Jesus is, is what he does for you. As my English teacher used to say, look at the verbs and the subject.

 

And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 

 

Did you hear the verbs Jesus is doing? Jesus gathers. Separates. Speaks. Blesses. And gives. inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. You don’t work for it. You don’t earn it. It’s a gift. A free gift of life and salvation prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.

 

Remarkable if you think about it. All the way back in Genesis 1, God had one eye on creation and another fixed on the new creation he is giving you in Jesus. So that when Jesus comes again on the Last Day the judgment will already have happened on the cross. And it did. Jesus was judged in your place. Jesus died the death we had coming. Endured the punishment we deserved. Was separated from the Father as the scape goat for our sin. You are sheep of the good Shepherd-King Jesus- baptized, forgiven, fed, and free.

 

But what about all that talk about works that the sheep had done and the goats left undone? Notice how Jesus reveals the sheep. For I was hungry, thirsty, naked, and imprisoned and you fed, gave me drink, clothed and visited me. “For” is the key word there. It’s not a cause and effect, as in you did X so God will do Y. But a description of who you are as a member of God’s family, as a sheep in his flock. As a good tree that is rooted in Christ’s tree of life, and so bears good fruit.

 

Remember, Matthew 25 is all about Jesus. So when we focus on our works, we tend to lose sight of the work of Christ for us. When we focus on the work of Christ, however, the good works will follow. Jesus promises that.

 

That’s the fundamental difference between the sheep and the goats. That’s why there’s a separation. It’s not about behavior, but belief and unbelief. Whether or not there is faith in Jesus’ promises or rejection.

 

And that’s where Jesus’ warning comes in. To the goats on his left, Jesus says Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. You see, hell was never meant for people, only for Satan and his angels. God never wanted hell and judgment, which is why he sent Jesus. Sadly, however, some will reject Jesus. Refuse to receive his inheritance. As C.S. Lewis said, there are those who say to God thy will be done, and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.” He gives the goats what they wanted. A life without him as their shepherd. And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

Jesus quickly follows up his warning with the promise. You, his righteous, beloved sheep, will enter into eternal life.

 

On the Last Day, just as today, everything depends on Jesus. In Jesus you are his beloved, righteous sheep. In Jesus there is no condemnation for you, only blessing, life, and salvation. In Jesus you receive the inheritance prepared for you before the foundation of the world, won for you on the cross, and given to you in water, word, body and blood. In Jesus you also do good works prepared by the Good Shepherd. In Jesus we long and pray for his second coming. In Jesus we receive the King’s promise: Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 

 

Come, eat, drink, and be forgiven. Come, pray, praise, and give thanks. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

 

A blessed Last Sunday of the Church Year to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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