Sermons

2nd Last Sunday—Mission Fest (Mt 25:31–46)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

The message of the Kingdom is the message of the King. The message of the King tells us what He thinks and what He wants. The message of the Kingdom tells us how the King is toward us. When we hear the message of the Kingdom, we find out that the King and His Kingdom are completely different than how you or I are hardwired to think.

The Lord always does things by way of Gifts and Promise. We do things by way of works. The Lord’s gifting way is selfless, self-giving. Our way is selfish—looking out for us, or those people, things, or causes that we like and are meaningful to us.

These are the competing messages today, the two ways of thinking, two ways of doing, two ways of believing. There’s the way of the king, and the way of the goats.

((2. The way of the goats vs the way of the king.))

The way of the goats is easy to understand. It’s the way of works. The goats care about their own works, and if you care about your works, you end up caring about other people’s works, too. You know exactly how you and they measure up. You know how you’re better than them, how they’re better than you.

You’re nicer. More generous. More forgiving. You like the Lord’s Word more. The Sacrament more. You’re more sorry than them. You’re a better fill in the blank. You even do it for the Lord! Goats know all about that. Of course they do! Goats are GOAT, after all. The Greatest Of All Time. Always at something, and if not greatest, just give me more time. That’s Old Adam’s way. “I can and will be the best: the best charity worker, the best parent, the best spouse, the best Christian out there.”

The King’s way isn’t about works at all. How can it be? “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” How can your works of this temporary life have anything to do with an inheritance that was prepared for you when the Lord created the universe?

The sheep know nothing of their own works. They love and serve their neighbor because their neighbor needs them to. The sheep don’t know what they’ve done. The Lord knows. In fact, they only have good on their DVR of life because the Lord’s blood covered them and their works.

The sheep have all eyes, all ears on Him. They look to Him, to their Shepherd. They trust that He is the Author and Finisher of their trust in Him. He delivers all good things to them, all salvation to them through His Word and Gifts. They trust He’s died for them, that His blood covers them. They trust He’s made them His sheep. He’s washed them. Purified them. Holied them. He alone gives them all they need for His Kingdom—His body and blood for them.

((1. The result of the two ways.))

But we still think like goats. We’re so quick to say, yes, pastor, but the Lord brings up the works of the sheep. Yes, He does, but the sheep don’t. Again, the sheep don’t know they’ve done anything. Any talk about pointing to our works, well, that’s the way of goats. And that doesn’t end well.

“Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” If you want it to be about works, then you will come up lacking. Actually no good works to speak of. Just sins. Just evil. The DVR of your life chock full of just you. And as those goats are being carried off they’re crying out: “What do you mean, Lord? No, Lord! I’ve done plenty of good. You’re mistaken. We did so much for you. ‘When did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

Because we think like goats we end up squandering the message of the kingdom. We don’t cherish it like we should because we think we’re generally nice people. And besides that by thinking like a goat we squander the message of the kingdom for others. Just think about all the people you know that aren’t here. How quickly we say, “Well, they’re nice people. It’s not like they’re a bad person.” So we pile up good works of this life, and we forget the better gifts of slavation. They’re strangers to that, yet no invitation goes out. The message of the kingdom silenced. Such is the goats’ way.

The King’s message is one a free gift. It alone is the message that will turn us goats into good and proper sheep. It’s the message that alone will bring His eternal kingdom. The message of the kingdom is one of forgiveness. But it’s a message that the King speaks. He will speak it on the Last Day, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” He speaks it now through His pastors. He would use you to draw others to His message, too.

His message enlivens His you. He washes you. He feeds you. He gives you His life, His love, His forgiveness, His body and blood. You only have to do with Him. No works of yours. And there’s only one place in the entire world to hear that message. It’s where the Lord sets up His Kingdom, His Font, His lectern, His pulpit, His Altar where He delivers His body and blood. It’s there and only there the prepared Kingdom comes to you until the Last Day, when the Kingdom is gifted to His sheep forever.

((Conclusion.))

These are the competing messages today, the two ways of thinking, two ways of doing, two ways of believing. There’s the way of the king, and the way of the goats.

You can make it all about works. The goats go off and do that. It ends just how they wanted it, just how they lived. Doing so much “for him,” but never listening, never trusting, never receiving from Him. The way of works ends in death.

So, why would you go the way of the goats? There is another way. The King’s way.

THE KING’S WAY IS THE FREE INHERITANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE.

It really is free gift, eternal gift—eternal life. Delivered here. Free flowing from His Baptism. Abundantly more in the Absolution. Still more: “the life of the world to come” delivered in His body and His blood. His is a different way. THE KING’S WAY IS THE FREE INHERITANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE. And the only place people and you hear about the King’s way is right here in His Kingdom of grace.

INI + AMEN.

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