Trinity 26 (2013)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
November 17, 2013
Central Passage
Matthew 25:31-46

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come born of the blessed Virgin to suffer and die and rise again to send anyone to hell. He came to do just the opposite. The Lord Jesus came born of the blessed Virgin to suffer and die and rise again to take people to heaven. He is now preparing a place for us in His Father’s kingdom. Not a place like a beach house or private island. He is preparing a place at the table of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. And even now you have a foretaste of that feast to come here in the body and blood of Jesus. Here you sit and kneel and eat with God.

But He didn’t do any of this to send people to hell. Hell was not created for mankind. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. For mankind God the Father has prepared a kingdom. And He has set His Son, Jesus, as King over this kingdom. And He reigns over the kingdom in mercy and grace. He is the Son of Man, born of the blessed Mother, being one of us – the blessing of the Father – so that He might reconcile us to the Father who has prepared this kingdom for mankind.

And since He has prepared a kingdom, the King sends out messengers to call those invited, but many do not come. Many make excuses and find reasons why they cannot come to the kingdom and the table that is even now prepared for them by the King. But the King’s banquet hall and kingdom must be filled. So the King sends out messengers again to the highways and byways calling anyone who might come and taste and see that the Lord is good. Calling you. He is filling His banquet hall. St. Peter tells us that that’s why He is delayed in coming. It’s not that He is slow or doesn’t care about your life or your plight. It’s that He is filling His banquet hall. So don’t be so mournful over your woes and troubles as if something strange were happening to you. Rather, rejoice in your suffering for you know that sinners are repenting and Jesus is being glorified and men, women, and children are being saved. Rejoice that you have been considered worthy of suffering for His name’s sake as He continues to fill His kingdom. Even as He filled it with yet another soul this morning through the holy waters of God.

So don’t worry about Jesus not coming back yet, He will. But for now, until the time appointed by His Father, He will go on filling the banquet hall, inviting all those He calls to Himself both far and near. The promise is for you and for your children.

The way that the Lord Jesus fills His banquet hall is by the proclamation of the holy gospel: that the Son of God became the Son of Man for us sinners, was born of woman, suffered and died and shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins, and is raised again by the Father and will come again to judge the quick and the dead. I like “the quick and the dead” more than “the living and the dead”. Because the “quick” and the “dead” are not merely those that have a heart beat and those that don’t. Being quickened means being filled with the Holy Spirit and being dead means being dead in one’s trespasses. He will come again to judge the quick and the dead.

By the gospel of Jesus the Holy Spirit goes out over the whole world, beginning at Jerusalem and into Samaria and unto the ends of the earth so that the whole earth is full of His glory. And the Holy Spirit, having gone out over the whole earth, creates faith when and where He pleases in those that hear the gospel: that for Christ sake their sins are forgiven and they have peace with God. And this faith the Lord counts as righteousness. Those that do not believe are unrighteous; workers of lawlessness; goats. To these the Shepherd will say, “I never knew you, depart from me.” (Matt. 7:23) But the righteous, those that believe on the Lord Jesus and the forgiveness of sins preached in His name, those that wait and are persecuted for His name’s sake, waiting for the time set by the Father, they will go into eternal life for they are blessed of the Father.

How are they blessed? Because the Father has sent His only-begotten Son to be our blessing and in Him are all the nations blessed. He is the blessing of God upon mankind. Those that look to Him, the Son of Man, are not put to shame but are exalted with Him because they do not deny Him, but confess that He alone is the blessing of the Father.

But what of the clothing the naked and giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty? What of visiting the prisoners and the sick? Mustn’t we do these things to be considered the righteous? No. These things are not our righteousness; they are not even proof of our righteousness. Those that look to these things as their righteousness will find on the day of judgment that they are their accusers. For one’s righteousness does not consist of what one does but rather to whom one clings. For the righteous shall live by faith. Whatever proceeds from faith is pleasing to God and is righteous. Therefore, do all that you do as unto the Lord. Whether it is to change diapers or to man the grocery store or to farm the land, do as unto the Lord. Then when the poor and hungry come, you will think nothing of caring for them and giving to them what you have, what the Lord has given to you to share. Then you will joyfully let go your unrighteous wealth called mammon, for the sake of those that have nothing. But knowing who you are – a sinner deserving of death and hell – you will not boast in these things as if they are the reason you are placed upon the right hand of the Lord. But you will despair of them and cling to the promises of God in Christ. And you will be counted as righteous.

That’s why the sheep ask when they did these things. They never thought these things were their righteousness. Even here, in the face of praise, they confess their lack of inherent righteousness. But that they clung to Christ and held fast to the promises of God, they were counted as righteous. But those that put forth their works as signs and proofs of righteousness, wondering when they didn’t do these things, they found that their works were like dirty rags.

But do not be afraid. Your Lord Jesus wasn’t born of the blessed Virgin and suffer and die and rise again to send you or anyone to the fire prepared for the devil and his angels. He has come that you would have life and live before Him in righteousness and purity forever. And that is why He brings you here. That is why He baptizes you and clothes you with Himself. That is why He gives to you His body and blood to eat and to drink of the living sacrifice; that you would have life and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Don’t worry. Works will come. Your Father in heaven has prepared many works for you to do and you will do them. But don’t worry about them. They are not your righteousness. Neither are they proof of your faith. Christ is your righteousness and He alone is your salvation. Clinging to Him and receiving what He gives is the proof and sign of your faith. So do not turn back from what He offers. For what He offers is His life, His righteousness, and His inheritance, saying to you now, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

+ In Nomine Iesu +