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Last Sunday of the Church Year 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 22, 2020
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, 1 Cor. 15:20-28, Matthew 25:31-46

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            As we get towards the end of the church year we have a number of Sundays focused on the end times when Jesus will return for judgment.  We have the parable of the wedding feast where you need to be clothed in the correct garment, the parable of the ten virgins where you need to be ready and stay ready, the parable of the talents where you need to fear, love and trust in God.  Directly after the parable of the talents we get Jesus’ last description of the final judgment in our Gospel reading today. 

            Matthew 25:31 (ESV) 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.[1]  This is what we learn about also in Revelation 4:2-4 (ESV) 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.[2]

            Jesus is giving us a picture of the judgment day when He sits on His throne.  It has been long held that on the 24 thrones are representatives of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles.  Jesus promises the 12 disciples in Matthew 19:28 (ESV) 28 …“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.[3]

            Jesus is on His throne and… Matthew 25:32-33 (ESV) 32 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. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.[4] Why the separation?  Why are the sheep blessed and the goats cursed?

Matthew 25:34-36 (ESV) 34 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. 35 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, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’[5]

            On its face it seems that Jesus is teaching that your eternal destiny is determined by how well you care for the hungry, the thirsting, the strangers, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.  Now, we absolutely should care for people in need.  The summary of the Ten Commandments is love God and love your neighbor.  But being judged on your care for others contradicts the Bible’s other teachings about salvation.  When we encounter a difficult passage where do we look for guidance?  We let scripture interpret scripture.  We look to clearer passages to clarify difficult passages.   

            In Ephesians 2:8-9 we learn (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.[6]  So if the parable of the sheep and the goats is not Jesus teaching that you will be judged on how well you cared for others, what is He teaching?  The answer is found in the identity of “one of the least of these my brothers.”  Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’[7] 

            Who is Jesus talking about as “one of the least of these my brothers.”  Nowhere in scripture does Jesus refer to needy people as His brothers.  In fact he is very specific in Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV) 46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [8]  To the women at the tomb Jesus says, Matthew 28:10 (ESV) 10 …“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” [9]

            In Matthew 10 Jesus tells the disciples, His brothers, “Whoever receives you receives me.”  In Matthew 25 He says “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 

            Jesus refers to the disciples as his brothers.  In Jesus’ final words in the Gospel of Matthew we hear Him give instructions to these brothers.  Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [10]

            The twelve disciples are sent to make disciples of all nations.  At the judgment all nations will be gathered before the throne of God.  We get insight on the verses about the sheep and the goats from Matthew 10 where Jesus is sending His 12 disciples to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.  Jesus concludes his sending by telling His disciples… Matthew 10:40 (ESV)40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.[11]  

            In Matthew 10 Jesus tells the disciples, His brothers, “Whoever receives you receives me.”  In Matthew 25 He says “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 

            Those who receive and care for the disciples bringing the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to all nations are the blessed sheep.  Those who reject those who preach and teach the Good News are the cursed goats.  Being a sheep is having faith in Jesus and supporting those who bring the Good News to you and to the world.  Feeding them.  Giving them something to drink.  Welcoming them.  Clothing them.  Caring for them when sick.  Visiting them in prison.

            In the early days of Christianity, after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, those who brought the Good News to all nations faced great hardship and danger.  Those first missionaries were beaten, whipped, imprisoned and even killed.  It still happens today in many places in the world.  Those who care for those bringing the Gospel are blessed by God.  They are the ones who hear the Good News and believe.  They provide food, drink, clothing, shelter, and care for the disciples. They are blessed by God for eternity because they are in Christ.

            Someone first taught you about Jesus.  There are those who taught you over the years and there are those who continue today to teach you about Jesus.  Care for those who bring the Gospel to your ears.

            You trace your faith back to the original 12 disciples bringing the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection to all nations.  Through many generations and continuing today the Good News is proclaimed by faithful preachers and teachers and missionaries.  Receive them and care for them.  You do it together.  You continue the mission of the first 12 followers of Jesus, to make disciples baptizing and teaching.  You get to see another beginning step again today (tomorrow) at the 11 AM Sunday service with the baptism of baby Robert Whitaker. 

Together you gather to hear the Good News of Jesus and receive His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Together you care for your pastor and staff.  Together you support those in your school who bring the Good News of Jesus to 230 students and their families.  Together you care for those in need with food and finances.  Together you support missionaries bringing the Good News to all nations.  Together you support those preparing for full time church work.  Together you work to increase what you are doing so that you do as much as you can. Together you continue the work of making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching and look forward to the day when, with all nations, you are placed on the right of the throne of God and Jesus will say, Matthew 25:34 (ESV) 34 … ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.[12] Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[11]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[12]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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