Proper 29 A Series
Last Sunday of the Church Year
Christ the King
Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24
1 Corinthians 15:20–28
By the Cross of Christ We Enter the Kingdom of Our God and Father
Eternal God, merciful Father, You have appointed You 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;
When the crucified and risen Lord Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, “he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32). “To those on his right,” who have been crucified and raised with Him through repentance and faith in His Gospel, He will grant the blessed Kingdom of His Father (Matthew 25:34). Having been justified by His grace, they live unto righteousness in Him (Matthew 25:35–40). But “those on his left,” who trust in themselves and despise their neighbor, will depart “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Until that day, the Lord searches for His sheep “as a shepherd seeks out his flock” (Ezekiel 34:11–12). Through His preaching of repentance, He disciplines the proud sheep and goats, “the fat and the strong,” but through the preaching of forgiveness He rescues the lost, binds up the injured, strengthens the weak and feeds “the lean sheep” (Ezekiel 34:16, 20). In this way, He destroys the power of death in the children of Adam by His cross, so that “in Christ shall all be made alive” by His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20–26).
Identity of the Saved
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege
“Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:32)
The Judgment Day scene in this Sunday’s Gospel can be easily misunderstood. Some may look at those who are “saved” and come to the conclusion that they are saved by their own efforts, saved by their own good works. But further consideration reveals that the “saved” are not saved by what they have done, but by who they are.
The first identity of the saved is that they are sheep, and as such they exist under the care of the Good Shepherd. The rest of the world consists of goats. Sheep are sheep and goats are goats by their birth; they were born that way. So the sheep behave as sheep because that is what they are; it is natural for them to behave as sheep. Indeed as they follow the Good Shepherd they go where He directs, and He directs that they go to the needy of the world both with the Gospel and with acts of mercy. They don’t do these things in order to “become” sheep, they do it because they are Christ’s sheep.
A second identification of the saved is that they have been placed at the right of Jesus (v 33). In Scripture God’s right hand is the place of blessing and favor. Observe that those at Christ’s right were placed there; they did not make any effort to attain this position. Those at Christ’s right have been given the position of salvation, and having been given the position of salvation they behave as the saved; their behavior did not place them at Christ’s right hand, but it is the result of being at Christ’s right hand.
Jesus further identifies the saved as those “blessed by my Father” (v 34). A primary way that the saved are blessed of the Father is that they have been brought into His family; they stand as brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of God. Thus when they behave in a godly way, they are only doing that which comes naturally; children of God behave with mercy and love even as their Father is merciful and loving.
Related to being blessed of our Lord’s Father, the saved are identified as heirs. Jesus says to the saved,…inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (v 34). People inherit something because they are born in or have been brought into the family of the deceased. The saved are heirs because they are in God’s family, and they will inherit what the deceased has bequeathed—a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. Jesus, the deceased one, has not only bequeathed a kingdom because of the testament flowing from His death, but having risen from the dead He has also raised the saved to new life and has established them as joint heirs with Him. Realizing they have an eternal kingdom, the saved use their wealth to help others now, realizing they stand to inherit that which will not fade away.
Finally the saved are identified by Jesus as The Righteous. The Righteous may at times be identified by their righteous works; however in both the Old and New Testaments the righteous are foundationally those who have been justified, declared righteous. Thus when Jesus labels them as righteous, He is first and foremost identifying them as the justified, those who are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus.
So when (or how) did the sheep become sheep, when did they become blessed of the Father, heirs of the eternal kingdom, and when were they declared righteous? All of these transformations happened in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The transformation was then bestowed on individuals uniquely when they were baptized, and they believed they were thus united with the One whose death and resurrection combine to truly change people in this life and into eternity.
Matthew 25:31 –
Ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ πάντες [a]οἱ ἄγγελοι μετ’ αὐτοῦ, τότε καθίσει ἐπὶ θρόνου δόξης αὐτοῦ•
When the son of man comes in his glory and all his angels with him then he will sit on his glorious throne.
ALL His Angels, you won't miss it. See Daniel 7:1, Ps. 80.
When he sits on the throne he judges. Future more vivid. He will sit. Matthew 19:8 "regeneration" we have already in baptism.
Matthew 25:32 –
καὶ [b]συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων,
"All the nations" will gather.
All inclusive. See Rev. 6/7 The same phrase as Matthew 28.
Condemnation is on the cross. Sentencing is at the judgment.
Matthew 25:33 –
καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων.
and he will stand the sheep to his right and the goats to the left.
ἐκ They come out from, they emanate from him.
Matthew 25:34 –
τότε ἐρεῖ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῖς ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ• Δεῦτε, οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου, κληρονομήσατε τὴν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Come the blessed ones of my Father.
Inherit κληρονομήσατε is passive, before you even lifted a finger it was given. It comes as gift. You are born into it. You cannot inherit anything until Christ is slain. The book of life has only one name in it...Jesus. Worked on the cross, consummated on the last day.
Matthew 25:35 –
ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν, ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με, ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με,
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με, ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με, ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με.
I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
These actions do not refer to social justice or economic aid. Context these words were spoken on Wednesday of Holy Week. The purpose is for your salvation.
Matthew 25:37 –
τότε ἀποκριθήσονται αὐτῷ οἱ δίκαιοι λέγοντες• Κύριε, πότε σε εἴδομεν πεινῶντα καὶ ἐθρέψαμεν, ἢ διψῶντα καὶ ἐποτίσαμεν;
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
Matthew 25:38 -
πότε δέ σε εἴδομεν ξένον καὶ συνηγάγομεν, ἢ γυμνὸν καὶ περιεβάλομεν;
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
πότε δέ σε εἴδομεν [c]ἀσθενοῦντα ἢ ἐν φυλακῇ καὶ ἤλθομεν πρός σε;
And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
The righteous are called righteous because they have been declared righteous.
Then the righteous will answer Him saying, "when...?"
The protest of the sheep shows this is not works righteousness. We are blind to our own works. These are not the deeds you do but Christ. They are the works pre ordained. The question for both righteous and unrighteous is "when did we see You?"
The unrighteous ask, "show us when we didn't do this."
Matthew 25:40 –
καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐρεῖ αὐτοῖς• Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐφ’ ὅσον ἐποιήσατε ἑνὶ τούτων τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου τῶν ἐλαχίστων, ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε.
whatever you did for one of these brothers, the least of these, you did it to Me.
See the negative in Acts, "Paul why are you persecuting Me?" We consider "least" in human standards.
Hell is without the presence of Christ. They are cursed because they are not in Christ.
The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software