Summary: A look at separating sheep and goats
Preached at Christ Church, Billericay on 26 November 2017
Title: Sins of Omission
Reading: Matt 25:31-46
Christ the King
Today we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King. As this is the last Sunday of the church year it is fitting that we remember Jesus has taken his seat in heaven and is king of the universe, and king for eternity. Next week is the first Sunday in Advent, the start of a new year, when we will begin again looking at the promises of that a Messiah would come.
The feast of Christ the King is a relatively new addition to the church calendar. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and has been adopted by many Protestant churches.
I imagine that most of us don’t think about Jesus as king very often. That’s probably because we no longer really understand the power that a king or queen has. Perhaps our only understanding of that power is from Alice in Wonderland where the queen of hearts shouts ‘off with his head’ a number of times. This gives the idea of the king and queen a pantomime feel, and takes away the seriousness with which kings and queens used to be treated.
In medieval times, if the king had arrived in your village and needed to stay the night, his entourage would simply have commandeered the best house in the village and chucked the occupants out. Anyone who protested would end up on the gallows. So as the king arrived there would have been a lot of justifiable fear, but also a lot of work to make him feel as at home as possible. Of course, as easily as the king could ruin your life, he could also improve it, by giving you land, or riches, or a position in society – but that didn’t happen very often.
King = Justice
The king was also the final arbiter in any argument - his say was final. In that respect he defined justice. His approach to justice shaped everyone in his kingdom’s approach to justice. If a dispute was heard before the king it was judgement day for the people concerned.
In Matthew 24 & 25 Jesus is talking about the final judgement that will happen at the end of the age. He warns the disciples that they must be ready and watchful and to continue to do Gods business as they wait for His return.
Each of the stories makes a point about the coming judgement. The wicked servant at the end of chapter 24 who mistreats the servants in his charge will be cut to pieces and assigned a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The story of the ten virgins at the start of chapter 25, reminds the disciples to be adequately prepared in case the wait for Jesus’ return is longer than they expect. The ones who failed to be prepared are not allowed into the wedding feast, which represents the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says to them “I do not know you”
The parable of the talents, which we heard Margaret talk about last week reminds us to keep our faith, and do the work that God has given us gifts for. And not to bury Gods truths.
Then there is the illustration of the sheep and the goats, which we heard this morning. It’s not really a parable, although many of the commentaries treat it as one. It provides an end to this discourse, and should be seen in that light.