Second to Last Sunday of the Church Year – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 25:31-46 “You are Blessed by My Father”
November 19, 2023 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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O almighty, eternal and merciful God, by Your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, You established the kingdom of grace for us in Your holy Church here on earth, that we might believe the forgiveness of our sins, since You are a God who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: We beseech You, graciously forgive us all our sins; through the same, Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, by Veit Dietrich, p. 165)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 25th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
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. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, who will judge the living and the dead and rule Heaven forever, dear fellow redeemed:
Many, many, years ago there was a nation that didn’t have a king. In their young, early existence, they had various leaders over the years, but they did not have a true king. There was a reason for that. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). Israel did not have a king for one reason and one reason only. They had God as their king. How great is it that they could have God rule over them. Given that is exactly what the world has. God is the ruler over all creation as it is recorded, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). He created the earth and, in the end, the earth that He created because of sin will be judged. We don’t know when this day will come, but it will, and when it does, we can be confident and rejoice as we hear the King proclaims to us, “you are blessed by My Father.”
The King. The great and glorious King. That is who Jesus is. The prophet Isaiah foretold His coming. He prophesied, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, and “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 7:14 & 9:6) The Jews knew of this great King. God wanted them to know and to remember that He keeps His promises. The Jews waited and waited for this coming King. How did they react? “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). God kept His promise, sending His One and only Son to be King, and from the beginning of Jesus life on earth, they tried to kill Him.
As the Jews continued to go after Jesus, thinking that He was the enemy, they would have it all wrong. He would carry out the will of His Father in heaven. It was not the will of man. He was never going to be an earthly king. He wasn’t going to
destroy the Romans. He wasn’t going to make Israel in a nation once more. Jesus Kingdom is not of this world. He persevered through all the trials and hardships because He is the glorious King. As Jesus triumphed over sin, death, and the devil, and ascended into heaven, His enemies now will see the truth. Jesus is the victorious King who will come with the angels and sit on the glorious throne.
Why is it bad for the world if Jesus is King and sits on His glorious throne? The world doesn’t want this to happen because this means that Jesus is going to hold them accountable to their deeds. Everything that we do, everything is going to be put under scrutiny. Is the world ready to be judged by God? Being that everyone wants to have a second chance, it is easy to see that there are times when we aren’t ready. Like the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law when we realize that we can’t fulfill the Law, why on earth would we want to be judged by it. God tells us we better be ready because He will hold us accountable and it’s to His standards, not ours. Our standards are easy to maintain because we make them. We can tell ourselves that we are doing a good job. God’s law and His standards tell us that we are not even close to His expectations. We have failed to hit the mark.
Now as we think about all the things we have done against God’s Law; Jesus tells us how we are judged. In our text, we don’t see people being judged, the verdict has already happened. This is where we now stand. Jesus has judged the world, and the world is panicked because there is a separation of two groups at the end, the sheep, and the goats. Everyone wants to be members of the sheep, but many will hear “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” When we try to fulfill the law on our own, or if we ignore it completely, this is what we justly deserve. This is not God being mean to us. He is right and fair with each one of us. If we can’t be perfect, then we are cursed. Jesus tells us how we failed to serve Him. As we attempt to make excuses, Jesus brushes them away. There is no excuse for what we believe and for how we serve and when we hear perfection, we know that we haven’t made God’s standards and are therefore cursed.
As man stands cursed before God, then how can anyone be separated into that of the sheep? To be a sheep, there must be a shepherd. In order to be blessed by the Father, someone had to be blessed by the Father in our place. The Jews thought that they were dealing with a man who wanted to be an earthly king. They did everything they could to stop Him. They went after Him when He was young and defenseless. When the man was older, preaching about His kingdom, they involved another government to get the job done. They executed an innocent man on a cross. According to the plan and will of God, the shepherd laid down His life for the sheep.
Jesus was blessed by the Father, winning salvation for the whole world. All of this happens because He is God in the flesh and as God blessed mankind sending His Son, being our Salvation, He promised before His birth that, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). Jesus the promised King triumphed over His enemies and He now rules, lives, and reigns forever.
Now that Christ lives and reigns as rules forever, the final judgement will come. Jesus will come in all His glory, and no one will be able to hide from Him. Many will be worried about this judgement, but for you, there is no worry. As the law laid down that curse on you, as it told you that you must follow it and that you failed, Jesus became a curse for you. Being God, Jesus did not have to become a curse but because He did, because He saw you and wants you to be with Him forever, instead of an earthly throne He was raised up on a cross. He forgives your sins. He does not count you as one of the goats. The King has a message for you. “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. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’” Jesus takes care of you and as the text states, He never left you.
You might be wondering, how have you helped Jesus, how have you taken care of your Savior when He is the one who takes care of you? You have been justified before God because of the work of Christ. He declares the world not guilty giving you assurance with His resurrection from the dead. This declaration of not guilty then comes to you through the Holy Spirit and as you receive it through the Word and Sacraments, you are born again, living a new life. And as you live that new life, it is the new life that the King sees. “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ These good works spring forward as you are clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
This righteousness of Christ clothes those who follow Christ. There is nowhere to turn in the world except toward the One who can clothe you. The world doesn’t want to believe the message that you hold. The message of following a shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. They want to hear that they are blessed because of the work that they do. The world will have a wake-up call when Judgement Day arrives. “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. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.” There will be a judge and there will be two groups. There is no way around it and they will be judged by their deeds.
As they wonder why their deeds have failed before God, Jesus the King explains it to all. “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ For those who trust in their works, who trust that they have been good, Jesus reveals that even what can look good, without Christ and His righteousness, the curse remains for they have only looked after themselves.
As the final judgement sets in, there are many who don’t want to hear that this is how it ends. That there is no redo or second chance. Once you are judged for what you have done in your lives, the two groups are separated for the rest of eternity. Why should you be excited when this day comes? How can you know that you are marked as sheep on His right? You rejoice because when the King comes forward for all to see, to be that judge, you know that this is the king that you put your faith in. You put your faith in Him because you have nowhere else to turn. You can rest assured because this faith in Jesus that you have is not your own. It is a faith that comes from the blood of the Lamb. A promised King from the beginning, was born of a woman, made a curse, and took your place on the cross taking away your sins. He now reigns on high and because of what He has done for you, your King proclaims to you, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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