Today is Christ the King Sunday.
The last Sunday of the church year.
And as the last day of the church year,
we are focussing on the last days,
and our Gospel reading for the day from Matthew 25:31-46
highlights one of the ways how Jesus as King makes of a decision of who receives eternal life and who receives eternal death.
Now before we go much further we need to be clear about what a king is?
When you hear the word king?
What is your perception of a king?
Do you think of Prince Charles?
Perhaps you think of someone who rules over people and who is pompous?
Maybe you have a Robin Hood opinion of kings, that they steal from the poor?
Some people have a very negative view of kings.
However our views of who is Jesus as a king should be determined by what God says about kings and what Jesus does as a king found in the scriptures.
A week before Easter, we celebrate Palm Sunday.
The day Jesus enters Jerusalem, as a king.
He does so not in a chariot or being carried by people,
but on a humble donkey.
In the Old and New Testament God constantly emphasised that a kings role is to care for the people.
And Jesus cares for us not only by providing for our everyday needs,
but also by creating a future for us.
And again who receives the future is determined not by who we think has done the right thing,
but it is determined by Jesus.
And as Proverbs 3:5-6 says having God’s perspective is something we need to take seriously.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
When we have God’s perspective on life we will live according to His ways.
And we will have a clearer picture on what He is up to as king.
Our starting point is to ask, “what is God saying about this or that situation?”
And also what is God saying about our future?
It is easy for us to develop an attitude of how we think life should be,
based not on what God thinks, or what scripture reveals
but our own perspective on life.
Earlier this week some newspapers carried a story
that Gerry Harvey the owner of Harvey Norman,
said charity is a waste of time.
He said “why would you want to help the homeless,
when they contribute nothing to society.”
Now to be fair, Gerry has helped people out in the past.
But he expresses what many people including Christians feel.
That we will only help someone out when we receive a benefit.
or if the community will benefit.
However Jesus reveals to us a different perspective to helping the needy.
Let’s listen again to some of these verses.
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 "The King will reply, ’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
When we help the needy, we are interacting with Jesus.
We are serving God.
If Jesus was to walk through our church door and we knew it was Jesus.
Many of us would bend over backwards to serve him and help him out.
However today Jesus reminds us that we acknowledge and serve God not just by directly serving Him.
But also by how we relate to others.
How we treat others, especially the needy.
And this is not new teaching from Jesus.
On the front of our bulletin, you will find our parish’s mission statement.
It says Because of God’s amazing grace, we live to love the Lord and love others as we love ourselves and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Now you will notice under the mission statement there is a number of bible verses.
Throughout scripture, especially in the New Testament,
followers of God were encouraged to not just serve God and showed their love to God.
But because we love God we are also called to love and serve others.
This doesn’t mean we neglect God for others,
but it means because we love God, we love others.
So in today’s bible reading,
the people who Jesus called sheep had grasped this.
They had trusted God and served others,
especially the needy for no other reason than they loved God.
And if you look carefully in the reading.
Eternal life is not a reward for serving others.
Eternal life is an inheritance.
Now despite some people’s views, no one deserves an inheritance.
It is a gift.
Also remember those who are sheep didn’t even know that in serving the needy they were actually serving God.
Now the problem with those who Jesus calls goats is that they were happy to serve God provided they knew it was God.
Listen again to verses 41 to 46.
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, ’Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 "They also will answer, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 "He will reply, ’Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Rather than listen to Jesus and do what he says and encourages.
They thought it was enough that they did the right thing when they thought he was around.
The problem was they hadn’t listened to his perspective on life,
that being a follower of Jesus involves helping the needy.
And amongst the needy Jesus is present.
Now the needy don’t just have to be the materially poor, but also the spiritually poor.
And think about it, if Jesus is with those in need.
Then when we are in need.
When we are hurting.
When we are having difficulties
Jesus is present.
So this week as you live your life.
If you feel in need, remember Jesus is with you.
Pray to him.
Seek help from others.
And also as you live your life
As you work, as you shop, as you visit Centrelink, as you go to school, as you walk down the street.
Keep your eyes open for the needy.
Not because you will benefit, but because they will benefit
In the same way you have benefited from God’s amazing love for you.
Let us pray.