Summary: A sermon for Christ the King Sunday Judgement
Dr. Richard Hoefler says in his book, The Divine Trap, "In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Christ issues a warning in love. It is not a prescription but a description. A prescription is something that we must do if we are to achieve a desired end. A description is a picture of the ways things are, or will be. Sheep and goats are not made sheep and goats by the judgment; they are only identified for what they are. Therefore, judgment reveals what has long been true. The deeds of mercy which the sheep performed were not works of merit, but examples and evidences of the fact they were sheep and not goats. Therefore, judgment is not a threat of something to be feared in the future, but a warning that one day all people will be revealed for what they are now.
The last day is not so much judgment day as it is VERDICT DAY. This is the surprising truth about judgment: it depends ultimately not on what we do, or fail to do, but on what we are -- sheep or goats."
The point Jesus is making in this parable is that our lives are lived each day in a certain style. One style which reflects, the love He has for us as we love our neighbor, and the second style hoards, or keeps Jesus’ love inside. It is not shared, or if it is shared, it is shared shrewdly, with only a thought of what can I gain.
Notice, those who have been declared to be sheep are surprised, because they don’t remember reaching out as they text says: "then the righteous will answer him, "Lord when did we see thee hungry and feed the, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee? " Jesus answers as they did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.
As we let His love flow from us, we will not be conscious of the fact that we indeed respond to the cries of the human condition of sin and brokenness all around us. As we let his love flow from us, we will affect the lives of people, we will make a difference on this earth. We will bring a measure of love, compassion and caring into this world.
Dr. Hoefler says again: "So Jesus is pointing out in this parable of judgment that the final test is not doing good deeds, but being a good person --- being a sheep and not a goat. That is, being the type of person for whom service to those in need is the natural expression of his/her life style. Spontaneous service becomes a holy habit."
The key phrase for me is the last one, Spontaneous service becomes a holy habit. Spontaneous means acting by internal impulse, unpremeditated, unguarded. We are to act without fore thought, without conniving, manipulating, calculating, thinking about our gain, or control. This spontaneous action will then become a holy habit, or a way of life. This action of love will become a way of life for us. Jesus is saying it is not enough to love him, but our love for Him is to be reflected in love for our neighbor.
James says in his letter, "My brothers what good is it for someone to say he has faith if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? Suppose there are brothers and sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to wear? What good is there in your saying ’ God bless you!! Keep warm and eat well!!’ If you don’t give them the necessities of life?? So it is with faith: if it is alone, and includes no actions, then it is dead."