Sermons

2nd Last Sunday (Mt 25:31–46)

November 19, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: What are you?))

When you see the exalted “Son of Man, the King, seated on His glorious throne,” where will you be? Which side will you be on? Will you be a sheep or a goat? Will you be on the right side and welcomed into the kingdom? Will you be on the left side, cursed, and cast out into the eternal fire? There’s no third option. Kingdom or fire—that’s it. No middle ground, and no way to pass from one to the other. The chasm between them is large.

So, which are you? Are you a sheep? Are you a goat? These are important questions. Eternal kingdom or eternal fire hang in the balance.

((4. Ugh!: How do you become a sheep and avoid being/becoming a goat?))

Balances, scales, and wages—that’s where we’re at. What’ve we got to do? We’re good at that sort of thing. We’re task-oriented sort of people, right? Give me a job, a chore, take up a personal pet project. We like that sort of thing. Self-improvement. Better obedience to a set of standards, a schedule, a routine. A better habit produces better results. That’s how you become a sheep, or, at least, avoid being or becoming a goat. Or so we think.

But if it were works, and I’m not saying it is, but if it were, what sort of works? Certainly not the kind we want to be doing. We can find the people we like, those who are like us, who think like us, those who “do” like us, and we’ll help them. They may even need your help—all the better! The needy, the homeless, the poor they may get your help, too. Great!

And you’re certainly better at it than that person over there, right? They need more standards, more law. That’ll get them in shape. That’ll change them from goat to sheep real fast. Yeah, I know I should do that, but at least I’m doing this. Scales and wages.

Then it all comes crashing down. True scales. True wages. The King speaks: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 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.” “What? What do you mean? Pardon me, your majesty, you’ve gotten this all wrong. You’re mistaken. Don’t you know what I’ve done? What I’ve been doing? Are you blind? ‘When did [I] see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

((3. Aha!: KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT.))

An overabundance of works got the goats nowhere. It’s not works. The sheep apparently do nothing; nothing they’re aware of, anyway. The goats apparently do everything; everything they’re very much aware of—to the letter! To think like a goat is to worry about your works and the works of others. To view works as a way of getting into the kingdom or to view them as a way of staying in the kingdom, is to think in terms of scales and wages, is to think like a goat.

But the King casts the scales aside for a different way. There’s the King’s Way or the highway to hell. The exalted King, the Son of Man, does His Kingdom different.

KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT.

That’s what He says: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, indeed.

((2. Whee!: Then it can’t be by works.))

If it’s by WAY OF GIFT, BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, then it can’t be by works. There’s no middle ground there. Inheritance can’t be earned. In fact, you only get an inheritance when the one giving it dies. That’s what happened! The Son of Man was exalted on His first throne. There He was in His first glory—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. There He died. There the true wages and scales were settled. God’s own death the price.

The inheritance really can’t be earned. Not by you. Not by me. Not by anyone but Jesus FOR YOU. Listen to His Word: It was “yours from the foundation of the world.” You can’t earn that sort of inheritance. Only an eternal One can earn such an eternal inheritance, and He does FOR YOU.

And when it comes to works, of course, the sheep do them. The King says so. The sheep don’t seem to think so, but the King’s judgment is all that matters. The goats, well. They do them, but the King’s judgment is lack of work. It’s all by way of Gift. The sheep’s imperfect works are reckoned as good and holy by the blood and decree of the King. The goats’ imperfect works are reckoned as accursed and lacking because they aren’t covered by the blood and decree of the King. Sheep live by way of their King and Shepherd. That’s being in Christ. In Christ: sheep, good, holy.

((1. Yeah!: You are what King Jesus makes you.))

The Gift gets even better. KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT, after all. He doles it out, and makes you “blessed of My Father.” That’s baptism: “This is [My beloved son, My beloved daughter] with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus elects you, His sheep, in Baptism.

That’s King Jesus doing His doling out of the kingdom. All His gift. He’s the Preparer of the Kingdom. And sheep receive all that the King, their Shepherd, has to give them. They live from and through Him. He declares them sheep. He puts them on His right. He chose them, called them in Baptism. Sheep don’t go their own way. They don’t even think in terms of “my works.” That’s foreign. That’s not sheep thinking. Sheep thinking is receiving from the King who doles out the kingdom by way of gift, whenever and whichever way He doles out the gift makes no difference to the sheep. No scales and wages. Pure gift. Pure inheritance.

Font. Keys. Altar. There it is. Washed sheep, decreed sheep, body and blood sheep. His. His Gift. His inheritance. No scales. No wages. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

INI + AMEN.

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