Summary: How to stand confident before the judgment seat of Christ. A Christ the King Sunday sermon.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, living in Canada for couple of years brought us some interesting surprises. Discovering the beautiful mountains of Alberta, the appreciation of thermal underwear during Edmonton winters, and our kids learning “O Canada” before they knew “The Star Spangled Banner” were just a few. Our Brooke was the only one in school back then and she also enjoyed being in Girl Scouts. The biggest surprise came when we went to her program and Brooke, together with other girls, recited “I pledge allegiance to the Queen, …” What? Pledge allegiance to the Queen? My goodness, what did she get herself into? We Americans don’t say things like that. We celebrate our 4th of July with fireworks and all, we don’t pledge allegiance to monarchy, right?
Well, on this Sunday we do pledge allegiance to a king, and not just any king. This is Christ the King Sunday and we pledge allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, our supreme Savior. Today we remember His words, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Today’s Scripture readings reflect His glory and power. Listen again to what is written in the first chapter of Ephesians: God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. Today, as in the last few Sunday’s Gospel readings, we are reminded of His promise that He will return someday and that we are to be ready.
In the lesson we just heard, Jesus said to His disciples, When the Son of man comes in glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
This entire passage talks about judgment that will take place when Christ returns and a separation between those found worthy to inherit the Kingdom, and those who will go away into eternal punishment.
It is not a very comfortable passage to hear, especially considering the reason given for the separation: He will say to the blessed ones, Come and inherit the Kingdom, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Those found to be righteous in the judgment are surprised and puzzled: “When did we do this to you, Lord?” And the King will answer: When you did it to the least of my followers, you did it to me.
Then come the bad news: those who did not share food and clothing with the needy, did not welcome strangers, did not care for the sick, and visited no one in prison, are accursed and sent to eternal fire.
I told you this is not a comfortable passage to hear. Are you beginning to squirm? Do the judgment passages in the Bible create uneasiness in your faith? Is there a question mark in your mind as to where your place will be on Judgment Day? Then it is better to talk about this uncomfortable passage now than to brush it aside and preach about something else.
I don’t want anyone here to squirm. I don’t want anyone to walk out of here without the certainty of his or her salvation. I don’t want anyone to leave here without the joy of belonging to Christ our King.
Yes, there are passages in the Bible that can put the fear of God in us: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). There are passages conveying a good news-bad news message. Good news for those found to be righteous, bad news for those found to be wicked. Bad news for those guilty of sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissention, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like according to Galatians 5, and here for failing to recognize Christ in helping the least of His followers. Surely such passages serve as a stern warning.
But these passages are to be feared by those who reject God’s grace and by those who rely on self-righteousness to stand in the judgment. For those who have been led to the saving faith in Christ, the concept of God’s judgment is to be appreciated with reverent gratitude for the gift of acquittal that Jesus Christ won for us with His precious blood. Let me prove it to you.