Friday, August 26, 2011

Loving as Jesus Loved

Matthew 25:31-46 is an amazing passage. Here Jesus prophesies the day of judgment and what he pictures is both glorious and horrifying. First, he says that he will come in his glory with all the angels of heaven, and he will sit on his glorious throne. The word “his,” twice repeated, implies that both the glory of Christ and the glory of his throne rightly belong to him. The Bible says elsewhere that we who believed in Christ will be glorified (Rom 8:30), but our glory will be borrowed. The glory of Christ, however, is proper to his being, and in that day every eye will see.
Having sat on his throne, he will then gather all the nations of the earth. Every human being who has ever lived will stand before him and answer for their life. And he will separate them into two categories, even as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The point of this metaphor, I think, is not so much to say that some of us are literally sheep and others are literally goats, or that there’s something wrong with goats! Rather, the point is to say that from the outside the two kinds of humanity living on this earth don’t look very different, but in fact they are. And in that day he will separate them.
To those on his right he will say that they are blessed by the Father and that they are now welcome to enter into his eternal Kingdom where joy everlasting has been prepared from the foundation of the earth. And the reason he gives for granting this breath-taking privilege is that they cared for the hungry and the thirsty and the stranger and the naked and the homeless and the prisoner. In other words, they shared the heart of their Master and had compassion on “the least of these.” They saw suffering and their hearts were moved.
This compassion did not save them, rather, it proved the fact that the Spirit of their Master was in them. As we saw last week, Jesus had great, deep compassion when he saw the crowds, and these, his precious ones, did too. They shared in the heart of their Master, they shared in his work, and now they will share in his joy—forever!
To those on his left he will say that they are cursed and destined for the eternal fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. And the reason he gives for this is that they had no compassion. They may have engaged in activities that looked good but all the while they were out for themselves. They did not share the heart or work of the Master and therefore they would now know his eternal wrath. Horrifying!
I want to be found on his right, and I know you do, too. The key to being found there is humble submission to him who is overflowing with mercy. So may we draw near to him, love him with all we have, and let his compassionate heart overflow to us and through us for the glory of his name and the good of the least of these.
Longing with you to be like Jesus,
      Pastor Charlie

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