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The Last Day: A Revelation!

November 23, 2014

Jesus separates the sheep & goats

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Last Sunday in the Church Year                                        Trinity Lutheran Church

November 23 2014                                                               Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

St. Matthew 25:31-46

 

Well, Jesus has been on quite a roll, hasn’t He? Good grief! One sermon after another about the Last Day. Now another one today. It’s as if He has Judgment Day on the brain. He does. This morning. He preaches the Last Day FOR YOU. For your benefit. To know how it will go for you who believe in Him on that day.

 

Listen. He emphatically declares: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.” “Son of Man” is the divine royal designation of Jesus from the Old Testament (Daniel 7:9-13). Combine that with His being seated on “his glorious throne” and you know that He alone is the Lord! No one else is. Son of Man Jesus alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords. No one else is.

 

On the Last Day “Son of Man”-Lord-of-lords-and-King-of-kings-Jesus will judge the living and the dead. It will happen. The Last Day will come. Like a thief in the night! When you least expect it Jesus will usher it in.

 

Many people spend their entire life – 24-7-365 — to avoid or put off the Last Day. Are you one of those folks? I’m here to tell you that there’s no avoiding it. No putting it off. You’ll have no choice. You won’t be able to hide. No more excuses.  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne,” AND, “all the nations will be gathered before him!”

 

For what reason? Why will Jesus send out His angels to gather all the nations before Him? Here’s why. To separate believers from unbelievers. “He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” And then to reveal what is hidden to our eyes in this earthly life. He reveals who are His sheep and that their works were good as far as He is concerned because they were done in and from faith in Him. Done “to Jesus” hidden in the neighbor and “for Jesus” as His instruments to those in need.

 

So again, the sheep are the believers. The goats are the unbelievers. The sheep trust in Jesus for salvation. The goats don’t.

 

The sheep go to heaven. “Blessed by the Father” who have an eternal inheritance – the kingdom of eternal life purchased for them with Jesus’ own Good Friday blood shed on the altar of the cross. The divine blood that purifies sinners from every and all sin.

 

The goats, the unbelievers, those that did not or would not believe in Jesus, go away to the never-ending punishment of hell. Not because Jesus wants that! He doesn’t. But unbelievers are unbelievers because they stubbornly insist, over Jesus’ own dead Good Friday body, that they will have none of that for them. And so God gives them what they want as their punishment. They are cursed. Sent to the eternal fire of hell that was originally prepared “for the devil and his angels.”

 

So, on the Last Day Jesus does what you or I cannot in this life. He reveals who are the believers and who are not. He makes known for all to see who have faith and those who do not. He does the separating. The dividing. The parsing. Only He knows people’s hearts.

 

Again, FAITH in Jesus is what makes the eternal life or the eternal death difference. FAITH in Jesus is the dealmaker or deal breaker when it comes to heaven or hell. And let’s be clear. Faith is more than just head knowledge. The devil and all his angels – as well as all unbelievers — know who Jesus is. They all know that Jesus is God, that Jesus died on the cross and that Jesus rose from the dead. Such knowledge, however, is not FAITH.

 

FAITH, is the trust of the heart that Jesus is God FOR ME. That as God FOR ME He died and rose FOR ME. After all, Jesus didn’t go to all that trouble of enduring the most intense agony of His suffering and dying for Himself. He didn’t rise from the dead on the third day for Himself. He did it for all and FOR YOU! FAITH believes that to be true. To be certain and sure.

 

The believer / the sheep, then, before the Last Day comes, naturally helps those in need. Faith in Jesus that saves a sinner gives birth to works of love. Faith wants to help. Faith willingly gives. Sacrificial service for the neighbor who needs a meal or a Gatorade, who needs a warm place to stay when far away from home, who needs a pair of jeans, a shirt and a pair of shoes, who needs two aspirin, a throat lozenge and a trip to the emergency room, who needs a visit while he’s in jail. Does the tasks that are at hand. For the sake of others. Faith believes in Jesus. Love serves the needy neighbor.

 

This is the Lord’s good use for you, His sheep, in this life. In fact, it is precisely He created you. You are, “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)! So God purposely puts needy people in your life! Plunks them right into your midst – your personal space – in order to use you as His hands and mouth to help them. To care for them. And all these works of love that flow from faith in Jesus are done best when you forget that you’ve even done them!

 

Incredibly, when you serve the neighbor, you’re serving Jesus. Listen to what He says: “As you did IT to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it TO ME!” Jesus is hidden in the needy neighbor. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? Makes you realize who you’re really serving, doesn’t it?

 

Now I have to warn you! Don’t insist on taking your works or deeds with you to heaven! As if they are some kind of a bargaining chip to use in a salvation poker game of Texas Hold ‘Em. The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus are all that is needed for heaven. God doesn’t want or need your works in heaven. The only time that God cares about your works is when they’re done on the earth for the sake of others. After all, God doesn’t need your works. But your needy neighbor does! That’s how you love and serve Jesus too. “As you did IT to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it TO ME!”

 

So, Judgment Day will be a revelation. It will be a revelation of the truth that Jesus is the Son of God who suffered, died, and rose to redeem the world. Then, says St. Paul, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and every knee will bow to Him in everlasting joy or forevermore shame. On the Last Day faith will give way to sight.

 

So, the Last Day will also be a revelation of who you are. You’re a died for or Good Friday-ed sheep! And the works that you were given to do in this life that flowed from faith in Jesus will give evidence on the Last Day to the fact that you are indeed the blessed children of God the Father. What is now hidden will then be revealed. To you and to the world.

Until then, the Son of Man Jesus comes here every Sunday in the divine service as His Word is proclaimed. In His Word He speaks! And He speaks to you!

 

What does He say? He says: “All your sin is forgiven! I put my Name on you in your Baptism! You’re mine. I am your Good Shepherd. I laid down my life for you. I was raised from the dead. And I live and reign to give you, My sheep, life, peace, and joy in the full and complete forgiveness I say you have.”

 

Jesus spreads a table before you to feed you with His Good Friday Body and Blood. He joins Himself to you with all that He is and all that He has so that you will live forever with Him in His kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 

Every Sunday is a little judgment day. Judgment Day ahead of time. Where you hear the Lord’s verdict right now! Every Sunday Jesus judges you … AS FORGIVEN through the blood of His Good Friday death! So that on the Last Day you will hear Him declare: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

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