Christ the King
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and 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. “ ‘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 took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ “Then the righteous 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 a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’ “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’ “Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In the Name of Jesus, our Coming King. Amen.
Before Jesus ascended on high to His Father’s right hand, He totally and completely fulfilled all of the work of His Father. He totally and completely fulfilled each and every promise of God to Israel. He totally and completely fulfilled each and every prophecy that God had announced through every Prophet, Priest and King. Biblical Prophecy is never fulfilled in the Newspaper headlines or in the subject lines on computers. It is only and always fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
There is but one promise that still remains to be fulfilled: Jesus will come again in Glory as King.
We are 2 millennia closer to the fulfilment of this promise. It could be at any time, on any day. We may see it in our lifetime.
As we heard last week, things will grow worse and worse during this time that Jesus is reigning on earth— from His ascension to His second coming, where He reigns on earth in Word and Sacrament in the Church. The Church and the world will go through a great time of suffering as Satan is loosed, known as the tribulation period. And then Jesus will appear in the Clouds in glory with all of His angels. The dead will be raised. And then the judgment will take place.
Today, our text shows us how this will “play out” with the Words of Jesus Himself.
Our outline will be the word “KING”- Jesus is the King of Glory who comes to judge the world. He will INVITE His own, the sheep, into Heaven. He will point out to the goats— the unbelievers— that they gave Him NOTHING in this life, and then they will GO away into hell. We pray the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon us as we consider the theme, KING.
Jesus is the KING
Jesus is the KING
In our text, Jesus refers to Himself as the King.
The Bible says much about Jesus as King. As a descendant of David, He comes from a line of Kings. The Magi ask Herod, “Where is the one born King of the Jews”? When they find Him, they worship Him as a King. When Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He is hailed as “the King of Israel” by the faithful. As He stands before Pontius Pilate during the trial for His life, Pilate realizes that He is a King, but Jesus tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. On the Cross, the accusation against Him is “King of the Jews”. And then, when we get into the Revelation, the term King abounds- King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He shall reign forever and ever.
This side of heaven, though, the only way that we will see Jesus as King is when He comes to judge. When He fulfills this Last promise in the words of our text.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.”
This is the very moment where every eye will see Him, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ as Lord to the Glory of God the Father.
After Jesus ascended into heaven the Church confesses that He sits at God’s right hand where He rules over the earth, the Church and heaven.
On the day when the Father has appointed, King Jesus is going to return to earth as Judge of all.
All the nations will be gathered before him
In the resurrection, all people who have ever lived- from the time of Adam until now— all nations— will be gathered before Him to be judged. Each of us will be there.
He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He tells us elsewhere that it will be the Angels who carry out this task of separation. He warns us from ever doing this— judging who are His and who are not, yet our sin is we often make such a judgment. But we would be guilty of throwing wheat out with the weeds. This is Jesus’ job, and He will use His angels to do it.
He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left.
This is ultimately the great divide in History. There are only two types of people that have ever lived. The Lord does not distinguish people based on race— there is but one: Human; Neither does He distinguish between people based on color, socioeconomic status, or in any of those ways. There are only two types of people.
Think of the Cross. On Jesus’ sides were two murderers. One believed in Jesus, put His trust in Jesus, and received Jesus’ blessed promise of Paradise. The other riled Jesus, cursed Jesus, hated Jesus. And there are the two types of people. The Sheep— His own, the Goats, those who hated Jesus in this life. This is the only distinction made at the Judgment. All nations will be present in heaven. And, all nations will be present in hell.
The sheep are the baptized. Those who put their trust in the Lord for their lives and salvation.
The goats are the God haters. Those who mocked Jesus in their lives, deeds, words and thoughts in this earthly life.
So the Judgment will occur.
Jesus INVITES the Sheep into heaven.
Jesus INVITES the Sheep into heaven.
At the Judgment, two sentences are announced: Innocent and Guilty.
First, He speaks to those on His right, the Sheep:
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 something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’
The Sheep were doers in this life. Because of their baptism into Jesus, their strong faith in Him as Lord, their frequently receiving His forgiveness through His Word and Sacrament as the Saints gathered together, they knew what life in Christ was all about.
True faith always shows itself forth in works. And so God gives each of us the opportunities to put our faith into action. He places those in need right before us, and gives us a means to help them. Faith leads us to understand that we do not do any good for anyone to merit salvation. We do good because when Jesus is alive in us we truly love our neighbor and do everything we can to help our neighbor.
The neighbors of which Jesus speaks are in deep trouble. Those in need of food, drink, house, home, clothing, caring, visitation.
There are some who take this passage in the wrong way and turn salvation into a work, that is, by doing these things you are saved. But listen to their response to the King-Judge Jesus:
“Then the righteous 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 a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’
Does that sound like people trying to work their way into heaven? They didn’t even realize that they were doing these things. Before faith can ask what shall I do? It is already busy doing them. In serving others in love, they actually were serving and worshiping the Lord Jesus.
Jesus then INVITES them into heaven, prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
The Goats gave Jesus NOTHING
The Goats gave Jesus NOTHING
The Judgment then continues with Jesus turning His attention to those who were the other thief- those who scorned the Lord in this life.
He says much the same to those on His left:
Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’
Depart from me. The three worst words you could ever hear from our Savior’s lips. Words you do not ever want to hear. They are devastating. And they are eternal.
These are the people who lived for themselves and not for the Lord. The Goats. Those who cared nothing for those in need, because their faith was not in the Lord. They were the “rich man” in the parable of the “Rich Man and Lazarus”.
In almost an accusatory tone, they ask the Lord, “WHEN did we see these people.” “We never saw them.” Unlike the Sheep, who truly did not realize that they were serving the Lord Jesus Himself, these people didn’t ever know Jesus, and could care less for their earthly brothers and sisters.
Even still, it is not in their NOTHINGNESS, not in that they didn’t help their neighbor that they are judged, but that they never knew Jesus, even though He stood at the door and knocked for them. He desires none to be lost, and everyone to be saved. But they desired NONE of Him. And so they will get none of Him:
“Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
They Will GO away into hell
They Will GO away into hell
Their judgment is final. And they are sent into hell forever. No end to the punishment and pain. No end to the torment and torture. As they lived their lives without God in this world, so they will now live their eternity without God. They could seek Him now and He will still save. But once the great divide of Jesus judgment takes place, there will be no turning back.
According to the Pew Research institute, a large percentage of people— even religious people— either reject the doctrine of hell outright, or believe that it is not eternal. Many Churches avoid speaking about sin and/or hell.
Among the millennials- that is, those born after 2000, only 21 percent believe in its existence. But even among those who 65 or older, who tend to be more conservative when it comes to things religious, only 17 percent believe in its existence.
Maybe that is because it isn’t taught or preached in many churches anymore. Or, because of the shift in belief in society toward disbelief in God. It doesn’t matter. What one believes does not impact reality. That seems to be lost on the world today.
Hell is a terrible sentence, the only destination where one can go when the Savior says “depart from me.”
The Great news is, you will never have to hear these words. They will never be spoken to you. For you are Baptized into Christ. You will be invited into God’s Eternal presence in heaven through King Jesus.
Jesus, who died under the Charge of “King of the Jews” truly was. God’s own Son. Messiah and Savior. He reigned from the Cross so that you might reign with Him in Glory. You are washed in the water and bathed in the blood.
Through the years you made it clear
That the time of Christ was near
Though the people could not see
What Messiah ought to be,
Though the Word contained the plan
They just would not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Through the frailty of Your Son
King Jesus reigned from the Cross for you and for Me. And now He reigns in heaven on high until He comes back to Judge the world on the Day which the Father has appointed. On that day, through faith, you will Hear Him bid you come.