Sermon on Come to Judge:
Text: Matthew 24-25
Theme: Christ assures his followers that he will come and judge.
Goal”: to encourage believers that Christ will come to judge
Need: We can feel like life will not get any sort of judgement.
1. The endtimes
2. Be Prepared
3. The Judgement
The end. Something that raises different thoughts and feelings in us. What will the end be like? How will it feel? What could it possibly be like to face the reality of the end of life that we know here and now and step into something completely different.
In theological terms scholars talk about the end times in a branch of study called eschatology. Eschatology. Ology: study of. And eschaton is the word for last in Greek or Last. And there are two kinds of eschatology. You can either look at the end as it relates to your own life. When you die, what happens?
The other side is the more specific last times when all time comes to an end at the return of Christ and the final judgement.
But I wonder from time to time what it will be like. A scene from the movie Titanic always strikes me. The ship is sinking and it goes through a bunch of scenes of people on the ship in their last minutes. One in particular is of a senior couple. As the other people on the ship were scrambling to save their lives, they had accepted the inevitable for them. They dressed up in their fanciest clothes. It showed them spending those last frightful minutes in each others embrace.
What is it like? What is it like knowing the end is coming? What about for believers? I know I have played that game with myself? Nate, what would you be like? What if you were there on the Titanic trapped, knowing it was the end? Would I be able to face it with confidence? The catechism is all about comfort. And talks about the comfort of know what is yet to come, the comfort that Christ is going to return and that he is the judge of the living and the dead? Can there be comfort?
What the passages that we read encourage is that the coming end ought to comfort us and it ought to drive us forward with the kingdom of work of compassion and mercy.
The starting off point of this olivet discourse is Christ’s answer to the disciples on the question of when will it happen that the temple will be destroyed and when will the end times come. Matthew 24:3 says, 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
These are eschatological questions. These are questions that are deeply affecting the disciples. When is it going to happen that the temple of the Jews will be destroyed? And since Jesus has been predicting his death, they ask about when they will know the second coming and the end of the age has come.
The first part of this discourse is about the timing of the end. When is it going to happen. The disciples want to know how to identify that the end is right around the corner. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes. They are all signs that the world is getting ready for the coming of Christ. Persecution of the believers. Many people turning away from the faith. All of these are the signs of end times that we have heard over and over again. When the fig tree is has its leaves coming out, you know that summer time is right around the corner.
The reality is that the end will come. We know that the end of our life is coming at some point. And we know that the end of the world is coming when Christ returns. Which one will happen first? There we just have to wait and see.
And that’s the next part of the discourse from the Mount of Olives. This whole section when read together shows that Jesus was not just giving us ways to find out if the endtimes were upon us, he was saying that we have to live constantly prepared. Be prepared.
Be prepared. This is challenging. We hear that Christ doesn’t even know when his return will be. That’s all more a challenge for us then. We don’t want to be like the two example that Christ mentions. Don’t be like that servant who says, the master is going to be gone for a long time so he beats the other servants and gets drunk all the time. And don’t be like those five virgins waiting for the bridegroom to come. They aren’t prepared and are away when the banquet halls has the doors shut. Let us in. “Go Away. I don’t know you.”
You see how all these stories together create a message that is a warning. Christ is coming and it will not be just a big party because Jesus’ is a swell sort of God who let’s anything fly. There is a warning in these passages. The time is coming. The unknown hour makes us have to be constantly prepared. Ready for the bridegroom. Ready.
We already see what we confess in the apostle’s creed, there will be a judgement at the end. When the end comes there will be a great separating of Christ’s own from those who do not belong to him. It hard to be too excited about that if you ask me. The fact that others will not be welcome because of the sins they committed where we will be welcomed. It doesn’t quite sit right. But that’s what God has done. He could chose none if he had wanted to since we all have fallen away. But he chose us.
With that context we hear the last parts of these chapters. The we have heard the parable of the talents. Make sure that you use what Christ has given to you.
And then we have the separating of the sheep from the goats. The king has returned. Remember he is the king that has paid it all. But when we are not covered by his grace, then each and every time that we looked away from the person who was in need, it will be counted against us.
But because we are called by Christ we should work all the more diligently to see those who are especially in need. If you are asked for money for a cup of coffee, ask what he likes in it a bring it back for him.
The end is coming. I live pretty close to the train tracks in Smithfield. On these summer days when the train whistles are powerfully loud, I sometimes imagine what the experience will be if there is a literal trumpet blast at the end when Christ returns. What sort of force will it have? And how will it feel to know that Christ is returning to make final reconciliation of all things.
Like the catechism says, we can be comforted because we know that the king who comes to separate the sheep from the goats is also the savior who went like one of those sheep, silently to the slaughter for those he chose.
We know that as the last days we face uncertainties and a world that is stuck in great turmoil, we will know that the enemies of Christ will get there due.
That is a comfort and it motivates us to be ready. To stand strong. And because of the marvellous grace of Christ to be even more diligent at the use of our gifts and abilities so that we can continue to show compassion and mercy on everyone.