Text: Matthew 25:31-46
Died recently: Leslie Grantham: jailed for murder, sacked over a sex scandal, made homeless after divorce. Concerning the murder, he said: ‘That’s between me and my Maker.’ Newspaper article concludes: ‘Now, finally, they can have their showdown.’ Just three things wrong with that: (a) it won’t be ‘now’, but at some future undisclosed date; (b) it won’t be a showdown; (c) it won’t just be Grantham, but all of us.
A glorious coming, v31 – The Son of Man – human, yet exalted; soon, he will hang on his cross pain and humiliation; but a day is coming when he will sit on this throne and judge the world in righteousness.
A worldwide gathering, v32a – everyone will be there. ‘We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ.’ We have a date with destiny.
An exact separation, v32b-33 – mixed now, separated into two distinct groups hereafter. Good that we can leave it to him!
A dual destiny ‘Come’, v34, 46b – what a wonderful welcome! – A kingdom prepared for them.
‘Depart’, v41, 46a – what a terrible banishment! – Prepared for the devil and his angels.
A precise criterion. Service to Christ. v35f, 42f. Not as the basis, but as the evidence. James 2:26 ‘Faith without deeds is dead.’ Gal 5:6 – ‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’ Luke 6:46 ‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I say?’
A puzzled question – ‘When did we see/not see you…?’, v37f; 44.
An intriguing explanation, v40, 45 – ‘Whatever you did/did not do for the least of these brothers of mine, you did/did not do for me.’
(a) To belong to Christ is to belong to his people. No such thing as a solitary Christian. Geoffrey Paul: ‘there is no way of belonging to Christ except by belonging gladly and irrevocably to that marvellous and extraordinary ragbag of saints and fatheads who make up the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.’
Do you belong to a gym, but never go? Do you have a large family, but never meet up with any of them? Have you made a commitment to Jesus, but not yet to his people?
Acts 2:42, 47 ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’
(b) To serve Christ is to serve his people. Jesus counts kindness towards his people as kindness towards himself.
Should we not be kind to everyone? Of course: read Amos, Micah, Luke, and James. Consider the words and works of Jesus himself. But that’s not what he’s talking about here.
‘Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers’, Gal 6:10.
What a difference it makes to know that when we welcome at the door, we are welcoming Christ; when we serve at the hatch, we are serving Christ; when we visit our Christian brother or sister we are visiting Christ!
(c) To love Christ is to love his people. ‘They like Jesus, but hate the church.’
Jn 15:14, 17 ‘You are my friends if you do what I command…This is my command: love one another.’
I have heard a number of recent testimonies to our love for one another. Let’s do even better!
I love you, and
…I will seek to build you up, and not break you down.
…I will go the second, and the third, mile for you.
…I will not flatter you, but speak the truth in love.
…I will put the best, and not the worst, complexion on your words and actions.
P.S. A goat can become a sheep! Acts 9:4