Lord, Keep Us Mindful of your Judgment!
Matthew 25:31–46, Nov 12, 2017
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Then (the goats) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous (believing sheep) to eternal life.”(This is the Word of the Lord) Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and from Jesus Christ, our returning Judge and Savior, dear fellow Redeemed. Trumpets, Thunder, Fire, and angels! Cemeteries giving up all their dead. What an amazing day it will be when Jesus returns! It’s the last Day! Are you Ready?
Yet, the popular thought these days is that there is no God, there is no judgment. Many say the Bible is a bunch of fairy tales. Sadly, Satan has hoodwinked the world to deny God and his final judgment. Now since many believe there is no judgment day, people do whatever makes them happy, with no fear of God’s judgment and wrath.
But, they are wrong. Dead wrong! Almighty God’s judgment is coming. Paul writes, “While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will NOT escape.” (1 Thess 5:3) When Jesus returns, time of grace will be over. Then the time for you, dear sinner to repent and trust in Christ is over. The time for more souls to be saved is finished. Christ is returning, not as a baby in Bethlehem, but as the KING of kings and LORD of lords, with his mighty angels. Jesus will sit on his throne. “Are you ready to stand before Jesus to be judged?”
Jesus spoke these Words on Tuesday of Holy Week. , after spending the day teaching in the Temple courts. Jesus answered his disciples question when will he return. Jesus describes the End Times. Christ warns us that before he returns, the love of most will grow cold with many false prophets. Many will reject his gospel truth. There will be many earthquakes and famines. The gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth. God will judge mankind by the man, the God/man. Judge Jesus is true God, and true man. As we see his humanity, Jesus’ divine nature will see every heart, including yours.
When Christ returns, it will look like a courtroom scene. In the human courtroom, the witnesses and evidence are brought before the judge. The judge then makes an unbiased ruling based on the facts and evidence. But not in Christ’s court. Our Lord makes his ruling first, then gives the evidence. “All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Every person that ever existed will stand before Jesus. We will be judged according to our faith. Christ will divide people as easily as a farmer divides sheep and goats. Jesus makes no mistakes. No grey area, you are either a sheep or a goat. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows your heart. No wolf looking like a sheep will escape the all-knowing Judge. Not one of his believing sheep will be lost. He knows you by name.
Since only God can see faith, Jesus makes his judgment based on faith in him. With words of pure grace, Jesus speaks to his believing sheep, “Come, you are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Jesus tells his sheep that we will inherit his Kingdom prepared since the foundation of the world. What the Triune God had planned in eternity, promised in Eden, completed on Calvary, fulfilled on Easter, you will receive on the Last Day. God took every step so that you, his believer receive his grace and glory. Our inheritance, not earned is given to repentant believers.
After Christ makes his ruling, he gives evidence why. Judge Jesus will say to his people on the right, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Jesus gives six concrete examples of believers’ good works. It describes a Christian being kind and loving to others. Jesus fulfilled all of God’s law of love for us. Then he fulfilled the law to love through us.
The sheep realize we do not deserve such praise from God. “Then the righteous (believers) will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Helping a needy soul is Christian love. Christians are humble people doing humble things for others. Our good deeds praise and thank for our God for his grace to us in Christ. In Christ’s court, his ruling is not based on merit, but on motive, Jesus tells us “whatever you did for me.” Christ sees every act of Christian love. When you help others in need, you serve Christ. We feed Jesus. We clothe our Lord. We visit Christ. Yes, whatever we do to others, we do to Jesus. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but our faith in Christ is never alone. Faith acts, faith loves, faith serves.
Jesus points to our acts of love as our proof of our faith. Since the goats have no saving faith, they have no good fruit. Judge Jesus declares, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the Devil and his angels.” Apart from God and his gracious presence is hell. Those unbelieving goats without faith in the gospel of Christ will be condemned to the fires prepared for Satan and the fallen angels. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. God will not be mocked.
The spirit of unbelief still flows in their response. “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “(The Lord) will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” The goats have no tears, no remorse, no sorrow, and no repentance. They have no pity for the needy, no plea for mercy. They are only bitter over Christ’s judgment. With Christ’s words still ringing in their ears, they will depart, cursed, into eternal punishment of hell’s fire. They rejected Christ. They rejected his saving grace. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus, so Christ grants them their wish, apart from him forever.
So then, are you ready to face your Judge? Jesus can return at any time. Are you ready? Do you fear, love and trust in the true God above all things? Do you love and serve your neighbor? Are you a spiritually lazy sheep? Are you afraid to stand before Christ?
If so, repent! Confess your sins to Christ! As a baptized believer you need not be afraid. Your almighty Judge is also your all loving Savior and brother. God has rigged the court to have your defense attorney be your Judge. Jesus has removed your guilt. All of your sins are forgiven. Jesus, true man took your place with your sins. Jesus as God means his sacrifice on the cross is infinite for the whole world, for you and me. The risen Lord Jesus has given you his righteousness and holiness. By faith in Christ, God has made you a saved sheep! You have an inheritance waiting for you, unearned by you, but freely given by Christ to you. Jesus will say to you, “Come, you are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Until that last Day, live your Christian faith! Paul urges us, “Live in peace with each other. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5: 13f) Do not let Satan, this wicked world, and our own sinful nature deny Christ or take his grace for granted. Christ’s verdict is final and eternal. Christ’s judgment is a warning for all of us to repent.
Your God wants all people to be saved, to repent, to confess our sins. God wants all of us to trust completely in Christ for our full salvation. Jesus died and went to hell for you. What other court has the Judge paid all the debt for the guilty? Only in Christ’s court! “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:29f)
Now then go! Serve your Lord who redeemed you. Live in Christ’s grace! Share his love to those around you. When you do, you are actually serving Christ himself. Our Judge comforts us with the Reformation truth, that we are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone. Jesus himself prepares us for the Last Day by his Word.
Now live as believers. “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 5:9) Christ himself makes you ready for his return by his Word. Therefore, keep watch, be ready, and stand firm on the truth of Jesus until our glorious Savior comes to take you home in glory. We pray: Lord, keep Us Watchful for Your Judgment. For our salvation to your glory! Amen.
King Jesus says to you, his believing sheep, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Amen