Proper 29—The Triumphal Return of Christ the King (20–26 November)
Eternal God, merciful Father, You have appointed Your Son as Judge of the living and the dead. Enable us to wait for the day of His return with our eyes fixed on the kingdom prepared for Your own from the foundation of the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Christ the King will judge the nations. At the end of time Christ is to come as judge of the nations. As Shepherd-King, Jesus will separate the sheep and goats, the good and the bad. The basis of the separation is the nations’ ministering or lack of ministering to the hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned.
This passage is not primarily an appeal for social justice or economic aid. The main point is the coming separation of the good and the bad that are destined either for heaven or hell. It should also be noted that what was done to Christ was done not to people in general, but to “the least of these my brethren.” The brethren are Jesus’ disciples, in other words, your brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray…
“Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.”
Introduction: Most of us have an interest and curiosity of what will happen to us at the end of the world. Is there or is there not a judgment? Is there really a heaven and a hell?
Our Gospel lesson makes certain affirmations concerning the end. People need to be assured of these facts, for they make a difference in our way of life.
Outline: What can we learn from this text about the end?
I. Jesus is the judge of all people — v. 32. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Before Him will be gathered all the nations of the earth. All must be summoned before Christ's tribunal. Every person of every age of the entire world, - from the beginning to the end of time will be placed before Him. All those nations of men that have ever existed, every person who has ever walked on all the face of the earth will be summoned before Jesus the Shepherd King. It will be the day of the final account of the entire world.
II. As there is a judgment, there will be a time of accountability — v. 33 …and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Jesus did not say that He will put the rich on His right hand and the poor on His left. He did not say He will put the learned and the noble on His right hand, and unlearned and despised on His left; but the godly on His right hand and the wicked on His left.
A distinction will then be made between the precious and the vile. He shall separate them one from another, as the tares and wheat are separated at the harvest, as the good fish and the bad are divided at the shore, as the corn and chaff is separated on the floor. You can not determine a righteous man from an unrighteous person just by observation. Both the wicked and the godly dwell together in the same kingdoms, in the same cities, in the same churches, and in the same families. They are not obvious. You can’t tell one from another. But on that day they will be separated, and parted for ever.
III. There is a heaven and hell — vv. 34, 41, 46. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;…These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Jesus tells us that the eternal hope of the righteous is in Him; just as eternal punishment awaits the unrighteous who are apart from Him. Since we know none are righteous as St. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:10, As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one…’our only hope is in Christ - for our faith alone justifies us declaring us righteous in God's sight. As Paul continues Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:20-22.
IV. Compassion is the basis for judgment — v. 40. The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me. St. Francis of Assisi is to have said: "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary - use words." The faith is taught and it is caught. By word and deed we are to express the compassion of Jesus Christ especially to the least of these as such, we should include them in our circle of compassion and mercy.
Conclusion: The key word is the word - When (vv. 37-39). “And when did we see thee...?” Three times, the righteous asked the King the same question. They served Christ without knowing it. It was a natural, spontaneous, and automatic expression of compassion for those in need. This they did without any thought – it came naturally for them. As they did it they did it unto Christ.
The deeds of love and compassion for the needy resulted from their possession of the spirit of Christ. They had the heart and mind of Christ, and thus they had concern for the hungry, naked, and imprisoned.