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The Shepherd King

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THE SHEPHERD KING NOV 22, 2020 Given Surrey Nov 22, 2020 By Craig Minke In the Christian world today is referred to as Christ the King Sunday. The text of Matthew focuses on Christ's coming in full glory. Matthew's text shows where the Lord likens himself to a Shepherd taking care of his sheep, hence the title of my message being: THE SHEPHERD KING * Are you the type of person who doesn't mind knowing how a book ends before reading it? * Or maybe it doesn't bother you to know how a movie will end even while you are in the middle of watching it. * I suspect most of you do not fall into that category. o Its like watching the NHL Stanley Cup earlier then your family and then telling them what will happen o I remember doing this with Jeopardy watching an early show by myself, then when I watched it later with my family they thought I was really smart!! * So, let us be warned that today my message will be talking about some things that are coming to an "end." First, this is the last day of the Christian calendar before we start over with Advent. (Next week's message that will be given by Mike Rasmussen) * For a while now we have been in the season known as "Ordinary Time" or simply "The Season after Pentecost." * This last day of that season has a special name-Reign of Christ or Christ the King. * Our passage for the day will take up that theme. So that is the first "end" we should keep in mind today. * Our journey from Advent, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and everything in between is coming to an end today. Also, our passage in Matthew will bring us into the end of Matthew's Gospel. * This passage marks the end of Christ's life and ministry before his death and resurrection. * It's a passage that also marks the end of a section known as the his End-time Discourse, which will include a parable to end Jesus' use of parables in Matthew. * That's a lot of endings for the beginning of a sermon. Considering we will be dealing with the "end" of these various elements, we will need to keep in mind all that has gone before. * We do not want to separate this day from the rest of the calendar as if now we are talking about something different. * We are still talking about Jesus. * This day will lay special emphasis on Jesus as King, a fitting end to the whole biblical narrative. * Ultimately, we must read this passage keeping in mind who Jesus has revealed himself to be throughout all of Scripture. Why are we laying all this groundwork? * Because if you have ever read the last chapter of a book or seen the last scene of a movie without hearing the whole story, you run the risk of bringing some distorted assumptions and drawing some faulty conclusions. * This particular passage unfortunately has at times suffered in this way. * We will try to avoid that so we can "end" well! The Final Judgment MATT 25:31-46 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 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. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 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. 35 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, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 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.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 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.' 44 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?' 45 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.' 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (ESV) The passage begins in parable form. * We are given a simile involving a shepherd separating sheep and goats. * This parable is quickly dropped, leaving the rest of the passage to portray a judgment scene, judgment of all mankind, the whole world * What we can hold firm to is "Who" this passage is about. Jesus. MATT 25:31 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (ESV) * Jesus is introduced from the start as "the Son of Man" and after being seated on a throne of glory he is from there on referred to as the "King" and "Lord." * However we analyse or look at this passage in the end, Jesus is King. * This is the same Jesus who entered our brokenness and darkness to bring us into his glorious kingdom. * He does not stand aloof from those he judges, nor is his judgment different than that of his Father. * We can rest assured that Jesus aims to bring us into his own relationship with the Father, the same relationship Jesus maintained throughout his entire life and ministry including its culminating death and resurrection. Notice the scope of Jesus' reign as king. * "All the angels" and "all the nations" are gathered before him. * We have an image of all heaven and earth coming together with Jesus. * This is the "end" the Father had in mind from before creation. * We have some language of "separation" that follows, but the Father's aim is not to separate heaven from earth but rather to bring them together under the rule of his Son Jesus Christ. MATT 25:32-33 32 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. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (ESV) Throughout history, there has been a mixture of sheep and goats, of good and evil. The tares and the wheat have grown together. The sinner and the godly have lived together ... • in the same world • in the same nations • in the same cities • in the same employments • in the same churches • in the same families When Christ comes, however, there is going to be a separation-a separation of the good from the bad, of the sheep from the goats MATT 13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous (ESV) What do we make of this image of the shepherd separating "people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats"? * This was a common practice of shepherds, so the concept was understood clearly by the 1st century hearers. * Shepherds would often keep both sheep and goats in their flocks. * At certain times, like milking the goats and shearing the sheep, they would separate the animals from one another. * The act of separating wasn't arbitrary or for bad behavior- it was to serve a fruitful purpose. * But we know Jesus is not strictly talking about sheep and goats. * He is talking about "PEOPLE." * We don't like the idea of people being separated from one another because that hinders relationship. * But there are times that separation is the most fruitful thing we can do for the relationship. * Have you ever had to separate two people because one of them was acting in ways contrary to the relationship? * Or maybe you can think of times in your own relationships where constructive conflict broke down into chaotic discord. * The best action may have been to separate until coming together could be fruitful again. * This is the angle we will take for the parable Jesus uses to lead into his words of judgment. * The sheep and the goats behave and act very differently from each other. The sheep will be placed on His right hand. The sheep represent genuine believers. They are ... • the ones who believe - have ACCEPTED JESUS as their Savior • the ones who have truly been "BORN AGAIN" • they are the "GOOD AND FAITHFUL" servants • the have "RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT Note that God sets the sheep at His right hand, the position of honor, glory, acceptance, and favor. The "goats"ON THE OTHER HAND are cast as the offending party. * After being separated from the sheep, they are placed on the "left" hand, which is often the biblical designation for the "wicked." * Judgement begins and when Jesus JUDGES his judgment is righteous and GOOD. * We see with this parable being combined with a judgment scene that righteous judgment involves "separating," sifting through, and sorting out. * But on what basis does Jesus the Shepherd King judge? * We are given an indication by what the King says to both the sheep and the goats after they have been separated. NOTE THE GOAT'S do not serve with Christ's heart of love because they are goats. * The sheep were known and identified by their ACTS OF KINDNESS. * The goats are known and identified by their LACK OF ACTS OF KINDNESS. * And the goats acted like goats because that was their nature. * This is the very point of the picture. * When Christ sets them they are already sheep and goats. * Judgment is passed upon the goats because they did not serve Christ, and blessing is bestowed upon the sheep because they served Christ. The goats represent all unbelievers, those who never professed Christ and those who professed Christ but were not genuine believers. They are ... • Scripture refers to them as UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS. * They are referred to as WICKED AND SLOTHFUL * Verse 41 of our reading today they are called CURSED. MATT 25:34-36 34 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. 35 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, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' (ESV) Jesus here addresses the sheep first by telling them they are BLESSED by the Father and they have an inheritance to receive which was prepared for them "from the foundation of the world." * Jesus says to "come, you blessed of my Father." * Who are the blessed of the Father, those who have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Eph 1:13-14 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. * The PICTURE GIVEN HERE IS THAT OF ENTERING the very presence of God Himself and being PRIVILEGED to remain there forever. * The reward is an INHERITANCE. o the inheritance of the Kingdom of God which includes RESPONSIBILITIES, DUTIES, HONOR, JOY, WEALTH, GLORY * The inheritance or the kingdom had been prepared for the sheep o What did Jesus say before he ascended into the heavens after his resurrection? JN 14:2-3 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. o This kingdom was built to suit them and designed for their habitation. * The kingdom had been prepared from the foundation of the world. o It was in the eternal plan and will of God. o Notice EPH 1:4-5 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, * Notice that Jesus tells them that they are ALREADY BLESSED. * He is NOT SAYING that now he is going to bless them on account of how they lived their lives. * Rather, he is indicating that the way they have been living their lives is already living the blessed life of the Father. * Why is it that mankind often rejects Christ's lifestyle, IT ONLY LEADS TO BLESSING NOT ONLY IN THIS LIFE, BUT ALSO IN THE NEXT * Then after the blessing he does something curious. * He starts recounting how they have been relating to Jesus. * Jesus credits them with o feeding him when he was hungry and o giving him drink when he was thirsty. o They were hospitable to Jesus when he was a stranger and o they clothed him when he was naked. o They took care of him when he was sick and in prison. * CAN YOU SEE THE orientation of their lives? But here is where we may scratch our heads. * The sheep have no clue of when they ever did such a thing. * They humbly see themselves as people who fail because they want to do so much more than they are doing. * They feel they deserve nothing and are not worthy of the reward given to them. * They seem completely baffled by Jesus' judgment on them. * So, they asked the king when they did any of these things for him. MATT 25:37-40 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? 40 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. (ESV) And the King tells them that "just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me." * Jesus EQUATES their actions towards others as ACTIONS TOWARD HIMSELF. * Jesus in no way separates himself from others, the sheep or goats. o HOWEVER, It is the CHOICES we make, HOW WE LIVE OUR LIVES, that determines whether we are sheep or goats' * He is so intimately connected to them that HE CAN JUDGE THEIR ACTIONS to others as ACTIONS to himself. The reason the sheep are given the kingdom-is because they ministered to Christ. Several important facts need to be noted. * The sheep ministered because they loved their brothers I JN 4:11-12 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. * Christ is not disregarding or minimizing the part of faith in salvation. We shall be judged for both our confession of faith and our works * Note also that the WORKS DESCRIBED HERE ARE SIMPLE WORKS ANY HUMAN BEING CAN DO, some of which anyone can do, helping the poor, helping others in need, the stranger or foreigner, or lonely. o They are expressions of care and love and service to others. o In the parable of the good Samaritan, Christ tells us to go and do likewise. JS 2:18 Scripture says, "Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith with my works" * The only faith that God knows and accepts is the faith that serves Christ by ministering to people. * A man who says he has faith and DOES NOT MINISTER to people is ONLY professing faith in Christ. * True believers are GOD'S WORKMANSHIP (or his creation), created in Christ Jesus TO DO GOOD WORKS as it says in Eph 2:10). * God knows no faith apart from good works, that is, apart from ministering to the needs of people. Now Jesus is going to address the goats. * He starts in similar fashion as he did with the sheep, but only in the negative. * Instead of telling them they are blessed he declares that they are the opposite CURSED; MATT 25:41-46 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 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.' 44 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?' 45 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.' 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (ESV) Again, he is not cursing them because of bad merits, but rather he is stating the obvious the CURRENT SITUATION THEY ARE IN. * Could it be the CHOICES they have been making and are making. * The goats have an ORIENTATION that is equated to living a cursed life. * And what does this accursed life look like? * Jesus goes through the same list he had for the sheep, only this time HE LISTS EVERYTHING THE GOATS DIDN'T DO FOR JESUS. * They too are judged by how they relate to Jesus, which comes to light BY HOW THEY RELATE TO OTHERS. * They acknowledge him as Lord, but they don't relate to him in the same way the sheep did. What will be the judgment upon the goats * The goats will be cut off and separated from God. o Christ will say, DEPART FROM ME, ALONG THE LINES WHERE JESUS SAYS I DON'T KNOW YOU * words that mean a world of misery, * a world of outer darkness, a * world of weeping and gnashing of teeth, * a world without God and hope o The goats rejected Christ and refused to be identified with Him while on earth. o When they stand before Him, they will never have been associated with Him - THEY WILL NOT HAVE SERVED CHRIST BY SERVING OTHERS * The basis of judgment and the reasons why the goats will be separated from God are revealing. o The goats failed to minister. * Very simply, the goats are people who fail to help the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner. * They are persons who do not become involved in meeting the needs of people. * They are persons who do not dedicate themselves to meeting the desperate needs of a corruptible world * They do not serve other hence they do not serve Jesus. MATT 20:28 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. JN 20:21 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." o The goats lived a selfish life. * The goats are people who live * a life of comfort and ease * a life of no concern and care for others * a life of materialism, pleasure and SELF-INDULGENCE * a life PURSUING THE LUST OF THE EYES, LUST OF THE EYES AND THE PRIDE OF LIFE. * They live selfishly while the world around them is suffering with hunger and sickness and death. o The goats were spiritually blind. * The goats are people who refuse to see the truth about Christ, that: * Jesus IDENTIFIES HIMSELF with the suffering masses, * Jesus IDENTIFIES HIMSELF with the pain and needs of those in the world around us. * The goats refuse to open their eyes to see those that live all around them. * those desperately in need * the lonely * the grieving * the lost * the hungry, * the thirsty, * the stranger, or foreigner * the naked, * the sick, * the prisoner. * They refuse to see THE STAMP of God, His glorious love for every man. * They refuse to see that they are FAILING TO HELP CHRIST when they FAIL TO HELP THE NEEDY. Today in our world there is a modern day acronym that fits the goat. It is G.O.A.T which stands for GREATEST OF ALL TIME G - Greatest O - Of A - All T - Time * In the sports world, for example, to be the G.O.A.T. of a specific sport is to be the best ever. o Everyone else is "less" than the G.O.A.T. o Jesus' use of goats to stand in for people who have no regard for others that they deem as less than themselves or LESS IMPORTANT THEN THEMSELVES. * If someone sees themselves as the Greatest Of All Time, o they have no room for others. o They are living a life contrary to the life found in the relationship shared by the Father, Son and Spirit. Our Triune God for all eternity has never existed in relationship characterized by such selfishness or disregard for others. * Jesus SET THE EXAMPLE WHEN HE LIVED AMONG US. * Jesus came to SERVE, HELP, LOVE others, AND TO DIE FOR ALL MANKIND. Now we come to judgment. * The Goats will "GO AWAY", Jesus does not cast them away or run them off arbitrarily, THEY WANDER AWAY OF THEIR OWN ACCORD. * Their whole life is ORIENTED IN DISREGARD of the King and his reign show not desire to be a part of it. * So, the natural end is to continue down this path living like a G.O.A.T. with no room for anyone but themselves. * In this way it wasn't Jesus' judgment on them that sends them into eternal punishment, but rather it is their judgment on Jesus that makes them good company for the likes of the "devil and his angels." When we think of Christ's CRITERION FOR JUDGEMENT, we are most accustomed to thinking in religious categories. * Correct doctrine-believing the right things, teaching the true gospel. * Faithfulness to the church-attending regularly, supporting its ministry. * Resisting evil-keeping the "thou shalt not's." But in our text Jesus offers a different criterion. * He says that the TEST of who is FIT FOR THE KINGDOM, is the kind of RESPONSE we make to the NEEDY PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. * He says that when we look upon the NAKED, the HUNGRY, the SICK, the STRANGER, the LONELY, the POOR, we should look upon them AS WE WOULD LOOK UPON HIM and respond accordingly. Now we come to the end of a sermon full of "ends." * But before we close, it seems important to strike the same chord here at the end as Jesus struck at the beginning of his discourse. * Otherwise we may walk away thinking this was a "dead-end." Let's remember some important context. * Jesus is delivering this parable and discourse as he is standing on the Mount of Olives overlooking his beloved city Jerusalem, which is occupied by the ruthless and dominate power of the world-the Roman Empire. * The religious leaders of this city are conspiring with their own oppressors to have him crucified. * The inhabitants of this city will also follow suit by rejecting Jesus as their true king. * He has with him o an ENTOURAGE OF BROKEN MEN who will FORSAKE him, o ONE will BETRAY, and o ALL WILL BE SCATTERED. * Jesus is facing complete abandonment, utter rejection and a brutal death. * This King's reign seems destined for defeat before it begins. * This King seems to be facing his own end. * Yet here he stands and speaks of glory. * He sees beyond all the "ends" and speaks in triumphant discourse of the new beginning he will bring as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. * When Jesus shares these words, he is speaking as the King of Hope. So, let's not interpret his words outside his kingly rule of Hope. * Rather, these are WORDS OF WARNING of URGENCY to turn to Jesus in the sure hope that in him is A BLESSED LIFE FOREVERMORE. * He now stands before you, CALLING YOU TO HIMSELF as the only King who loves you MORE THAN HE LOVES HIMSELF. * He calls you into a LIFE OF BLESSING, a life that can be received RIGHT NOW among BROTHERS AND SISTER (HIS CHURCH) who share the same PASTURE and gather together to WORSHIP. CLOSING PRAYER
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