The Second-to-Last Sunday of the Church Year
St. Matthew 25.31-46; Daniel 7.9-14; 2 Peter 3.3-14
18 November 2018
Seminarian Simeon Cornwell, Vicar
+ In the Name of Jesus +
“Truly I say to you, whatever you did to the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”
Our whole Gospel text hinges upon these words.
For those who go off into everlasting life do so because they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, etc. And in so doing, Jesus says they did it to Him.
However, those who go off to everlasting death do so because they neglected to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc. By neglecting to do those things, they in fact neglected Jesus.
The judgment then, is based off of how we treat these least ones. For ultimately, the way we treat them is how we treat Jesus. Whatever we do to these we do to Him.
In some sense, we don’t want to ask the question: who are these least ones? Since in so doing we would only then try and determine who we don’t have to feed or clothe. We would be no different than the lawyer who came to Jesus asking what was the greatest commandment and after hearing the answer, sought clarification: and who is my neighbor?
Rather it is more important that we reflect upon the words, “whatever you did to the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”
As Christians, we should always look at others, no matter who they are, through the lense of Christ. We are to see them, with eyes of faith, as if Christ was standing before us.
In the previous two chapters leading up to our Gospel text, Jesus has lamented over the fact that His people have constantly rejected the Prophets whom He sent to them. Those who were sent to call the people to repentance. To turn from their evil ways. To have a new and clean heart.
It was through the preaching of those prophets that it was possible for repentance to spring forth. For a new and clean heart to be created. One that desired to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
The Apostles too, were sent in order to preach Jesus’ word to the people. To call them to repentance. To turn from their evil ways and receive a new and clean heart.
But what is so important about this message? How can it create repentance and clean hearts?
It does this because the message presents Christ to us. Christ, who when He saw you sick and a prisoner to Satan came to visit you. And not only visit you, but liberate you from that prison.
Christ who saw you naked and so chose to be stripped of His only garment and suffer death upon the cross, so that you might be clothed with His righteousness. And Christ who saw you hungry and fed you with His Word and still feeds you with His body and blood.
So if you have failed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, if you have not even desired to do any of these, then repent. Repent and fix your eyes on Christ. Christ who fed and clothed you. Who visited you. Who saw you a stranger and took you in.
And when you go out, when you see the hungry, naked, sick, or whatever, remember that this too was your state in the sight of God before the Lord sought you out. That if Jesus had not shown mercy to you in suffering in your stead, you would have starved to death and been lost forever.
So repent. For these fires which the goats will be sent off to forever is not intended for you. Rather, as Jesus says, they are “for the devil and his angels.”
He does not want this fate for you. And so He is patient toward you, so that if you have not yet reached repentance, you may still have opportunity.
Therefore, He delays in His return. Not because He has forgotten or lied when He said He would return for judgment one day, but because He loves you. Because He does not want you to be found on His left on that Last Day, but rather on His right, with the sheep who have been purchased and cleansed in the blood of His own Lamb.
This last day will indeed come, as Jesus once said and as Peter reiterated in our Epistle reading for today, as a thief in the night. So let us not put off repentance, thinking that this Day will never come. But rather let us be encouraged to turn to Christ in repentance often. For He will never turn away those who humble themselves before Him, confessing their sins.
And so it is my prayer that God would grant that all of us may constantly remember and call to mind what our Lord has done for us, so that our hearts may be enlivened more and more to see Him in others.
And in seeing Him, feed Him, clothe Him, and visit Him. That on that Last Day we may hear the blessed words spoken to His sheep: “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.