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Trinity 26/Second-Last – Matthew 25:31-46

by pastorjuhl ~ November 10th, 2008

Gently revised from 2003.

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

The end is near. Jesus Christ will return visibly soon. Our future came from our lips a moment ago:

The day is surely drawing near

When Jesus, God’s anointed,

In all His power shall appear

As judge whom God appointed.

Then fright shall banish idle mirth,

And flames on flames shall ravage earth

As Scripture long has warned us.

The world as we know it will disappear when Christ appears. Many will be surprised at His seemingly unexpected return. Others will rejoice to see the end at hand. How will things happen on that great day?

The final trumpet then shall sound

And all the earth be shaken,

And all who rest beneath the ground

Shall from their sleep awaken.

But all who live will in that hour,

By God’s almighty, boundless power,

Be changed at His commanding.

When Jesus returns there will be a separation. Sheep go at His right hand and goats go at His left hand, just as a shepherd separates the protected flock from their enemy. Those who placed their trust in Christ alone and showed the world their trust in Christ through works of mercy are the sheep. Those who scorned Christ and let their works speak as their way to salvation, as well as those who were thought to be Christians yet were merely hypocrites who refused to do good works or did good works merely to please God, will stand as goats.

The books are opened then to all,

A record truly telling

What each has done, both great and small,

When he on earth was dwelling,

And every heart be clearly seen,

And all be known as they have been

In thoughts and words and actions.

The prophet Daniel saw this day. I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated…the court was seated, and the books were opened. Everything we have ever done, are doing, or will do, will be declared openly. Everyone will hear each other’s works. Everyone will hear each other’s shortcomings. No stone will be left unturned. Souls will be laid bare.

Then woe to those who scorned the Lord

And sought but carnal pleasures,

Who here despised His precious Word

And loved their earthly treasures!

With shame and trembling they will stand

And at the judge’s stern command

To Satan be delivered.

When Jesus speaks to the goats, He calls them cursed. Unlike the sheep they are not blessed. But what is more important is what is not said. The goats are not described as cursed of My Father. God did not create evil. God created all things good. The goats brought the curse upon themselves, as our first parents Adam and Eve brought the curse of sin, death, and hell upon themselves. Their disobedience brought the curse. The goats remain in that curse because they purposely avoided anything to do with Jesus Christ. Those who want no part of Jesus also want no part of God the Father. Jesus says He who hears you (the disciples’ preaching) hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me.

Our works will be judged, but we will not be judged by our works. That’s a very tricky sentence. What we do in this world will be exposed by Jesus when He returns to judge the living and the dead. He will judge us according to what we have done and what we have left undone. Works ALONE do not save us! If works alone saved us, Judgment Day is a hopeless day where Christ announces no one is worthy of eternal life and leaves us all eternally dead.

There is comfort in judgment as we sang a moment ago:

My savior paid the debt I owe

And for my sin was smitten;

Within the Book of Life I know

My name has now been written.

I will not doubt, for I am free,

And Satan cannot threaten me;

There is no condemnation!

May Christ our intercessor be

And through His blood and merit

Read from His book that we are free

With all who life inherit.

Then we shall see Him face to face,

With all His saints in that blest place

Which He has purchased for us.

When the accusation of condemnation comes streaming into our lives, we no longer have to answer based on our own works and deeds. Saint Paul writes for all the promises of God in [Jesus] are yes, and in [Jesus] amen, to the glory of God through us. Jesus takes the accusation of condemnation on Himself to suffer and die for our sins. His death and resurrection on our behalf is our yes and amen to Paradise.

What about good works? Good works ALONE do not earn Paradise! Good works show others the proof that faith in Jesus is living and active in us. Good works are Christ working in us toward our neighbor. Good works ALONE do not put us with the sheep. If it were so, then Jesus is robbed of His glory. His death and resurrection become examples of what we should do for God rather than what God has done for us. No other god or man could serve as judge, jury, executioner, and executed on behalf of the guilty party. That’s what the one true God does for the sake of His sheep.

We are sheep because God made you a sheep through the preaching of the Word. The Holy Spirit working through the Word drew us to the font where sins were washed away through Baptism. The Word with bread and wine feeds us with Christ’s True Body and Blood in the Supper. We leave this earthly sheep pen ready to show the world the proof that Christ dwells in us and we dwell in Him. We don’t know how we do good works let alone know that we do good works most of the time. We go about our business wherever God puts us. Serving diligently in our various vocations is the greatest good work done on behalf of God and neighbor.

Now that the pressure is off of us to earn eternity, we sing with great joy:

O Jesus Christ, do not delay,

But hasten our salvation;

We often tremble on our way

In fear and tribulation

O hear and grant our fervent plea:

Come, mighty judge, and set us free

From death and every evil.

Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.

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

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