((5. Oops!: Judgment Day is coming.))
Judgment. God’s judgment. Everlasting judgment. Judgment day. That Day, that Last and Final Day is coming. Judgment Day will come. Jesus “will come to judge the living and the dead.”
Jesus promises that it’s coming, that He’s coming, coming as Judge. “When the Son of Man comes and all his angels with him.” There’s no maybe about it. He is coming. Jesus keeps His promises. Always does. He said He’d die. He said He’d rise again. He did both those things. So, when He says that He’s coming again to judge, He’s coming again to judge.
We don’t believe it. “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” We live as if it’s not going to happen. We don’t think He’s coming soon, that it’s right around the corner. It’s been 2,000 years, and so we think it’s far off. “The Lord’s just slow,” after all. Peter’s warnings about this mindset were for people living 2,000 years ago, how much more important today! Jesus’ words, too.
((4. Ugh!: Judgement Day is scary.))
But Judgment is coming. We don’t want to think about it. Because, if we’re honest, Judgment Day is scary! Jesus “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” He will be “seated on His glorious throne.” All the angels will be with Him, too.
But that’s not all. What Peter describes sounds even worse than being face to face with Jesus on His judgment throne. “The heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire,” purifying fire. “The heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” Creation will be coming apart at the seems, but that’s not even the worst of it.
Yes, everything we know and think about the world, what’s solid, what’s real, will all go away. “New heavens and new earth.” But what worse is that “The Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne,” and, as Daniel tells us, “court is put in session and the books are opened,” “the works that are done on [earth] will be exposed.”
The big screen of your life, what you did and didn’t do, right? That’s the scary part. It’s all fun and games until that day. That thought is what makes us not think about Judgment Day.
Judgement. God’s Judgment. It’s coming. Court in session. Books open. Jesus as Judge on the throne. You, me, and everyone else standing before Him. Then what?
((3. Aha!: Jesus tells this parable for your comfort.))
The text tells us what. And it’s not what we expect. It’s not actually what we’re afraid of when it comes to Judgement Day. You see Jesus doesn’t tell this parable to pull the rug out from under us, to scare us into behaving or acting right. He doesn’t tell this to us so that we push free salvation except, of course, when it comes to Judgement Day, then it’s all by works. No, that’s not what Jesus is saying at all! Sure there is some warning in there, but that’s not what Jesus is completely after in this parable. Jesus tells the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats for comfort, for your comfort.
((2. Whee!: JESUS JUDGES YOU AS RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM.))
The comfort that Jesus wants you to have, is for you to believe that JESUS JUDGES YOU TO BE RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. That’s what all His Parables are about, really. He’s your risen Savior. He’s your crucified-for-you King. He’s your Good Shepherd. And you are saved, His brother, His sheep. That doesn’t change. Not now. Not forever. Not even on the Judgement Day.
We hear the repetition of works, and we get hung up on that. But it’s clear from the parable itself that JESUS JUDGES YOU TO BE RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. The sheep are already sheep, and the goats goats. They’re separated at the beginning based on who they are rather than what they’ve done. Sheep are sheep, and they do sheep-y things, same with the goats. Sheep and goats aren’t sheep and goats because of what they do. Sheep and goats do what they do because they are sheep and goats. Judgement day simply reveals who each are.
You can also see that JESUS JUDGES YOU TO BE RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM because the sheep are “blessed by My Father.” They don’t earn anything. They don’t do anything. They are blessed. Blessed, saved by the Son. They are redeemed by their Good Shepherd at Calvary’s cross. He shed His blood for them, died for them, rose for them. His blood covers their sins. His blood makes their works good. And He does the same for you, too. Because they are blessed by the Father, they are also “righteous.” Made righteous by Christ. Made holy by the Holy Spirit. You, too!
He’s shepherd for the goats, too. They reject Him though. They want their own works. But in God’s eyes they have nothing good they’ve done. The sheep through faith in Jesus have only good. You, too. When you’re in Jesus, you are righteous, completely pleasing to your heavenly Father, to Jesus your Savior. If you reject Jesus, you will have nothing good forever.
This is the final way the Parable shows us that JESUS JUDGES YOU TO BE RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. The righteous don’t know anything about their own good works. As far as they say, they don’t understand the judgment given by their King. It’s the same with the goats. They, too, don’t understand. “What do you mean we didn’t minister to you? Didn’t we prophesy in Your name? Cast out demons in Your name? Do many might works in Your name?” The goats know their works, not the king. The Sheep look only to their King who’s saved them.
((1. Yeah!: The eternal Kingdom is gifted to you.))
JESUS JUDGES YOU TO BE RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. And so that’s what you are in Him. In Him you have the eternal kingdom. It has to be through faith in Jesus your Savior because how can your works earn “the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world”? In Jesus that Kingdom is yours. Eternal life is yours. You are righteous in Him. That’s His judgement. You are blessed. He’s faithful. He saved you.
He gifts it to you. He delivers His righteousness to you. You receive His judgment. You’re united with the Jesus your Savior, your Judge in Holy Baptism. There He made you His sheep. You’re united with Him in the Supper of His body and blood. That how He gifts it. Must be gift: “Inherit the Kingdom,” he says. Inheritance comes because someone else earned and did something and finally died. Jesus for you.
Now in Jesus Judgment Day leads to eternal life. Apart from Jesus, rejecting Him, living life like a goat, living your life focused on your works, you end with nothing. In Jesus is everything. He gifts it all to you forever. The gavel is held in nail-scarred hands. Jesus died for you. His blood shed for you. You’re washed and fed with that.
Sheep are blessed with that. Fed with that. Made righteous with that. Jesus’ Judgment Day just reveals the truth. The truth is this: JESUS JUDGES YOU TO BE RIGHTEOUS ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. Even so, come Lord Jesus.