Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Matthew 25:31-46 Sermon

Matthew 25:31-46
Sermon Notes
Serving the Least
May 14, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

         We are coming to the end of Jesus’s words about the destruction coming upon Jerusalem. These are the final words that Jesus spoke to His disciples. We should really pay attention to what He is saying.
This last section applies to the same crowd that Jesus is talking to but it also has a clearer application to us. His words here include all men.
Already- The Lord has entered His glory and the sorting has begun. But until the end of the ages, it will not be complete. Furthermore, until someone’s life is complete, the sorting is not final.
Not Yet- Acts 17:31

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
         When has the Son of man come in His glory?
He did this at the Ascension. We sometimes tend to think of this event as Jesus coming at the end of the ages but I do not believe that is the context here.
         We know this because Jesus is sitting on His throne of glory now.
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
         Mark 16:19   So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
         Luke 20:42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
         Acts 2:22-36 The Lord is exalted to the right hand of power and is in session there until all His enemies are subdued beneath His feet.
         Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
         Stephen saw Jesus at the right hand of God. He stood up to receive Stephen to Himself. The point here, though, is that Jesus was already ruling from that place of power.
         Ephesians 1:17-23 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
         This is not some obscure doctrine. It is taught and repeated throughout the New Testament. Paul prays that we will see its truth and power.
         The point in Ephesians is expressly that all power belongs to Jesus and that everything is under His feet. Jesus is the head of the church so now it is our duty to carry out His rule.

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
Psa. 2:7-9  I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Jesus is in the process of gathering all nations. They are all His but they have not acknowledged His as Lord. They will.
There is a bit of difficulty here. Jesus gathers the nations but salvation is individual, person by person. It is safe to stay that the nations are gathered but then every individual in those nations are separated, the sheep from the goats.

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
This is one of those already, not yet passages. The kingdom has begun and therefore the winnowing has begun. Nations and peoples are separated. In this lifetime and even after death, the sides are drawn up. The final judgment will not be until the very end of the ages.
This is an interesting passage. The nations are gathered and separated, the sheep to one side, the goats on the other. At the end of the ages, there is no in between. At that point, you cannot sort of belong to Jesus. You cannot be a good pagan. You cannot be a fence sitting Christian. When Jesus sits in judgment, He makes a judgment. Some are righteous. The others are unrighteous. There are no inbetweeners.
Think about our current state of religion in America. Both in the church and outside the church, there are many who would prefer the middle ground. Jesus is a good teacher, a great man, even, but worship Him as God? But admit that He is the only way to heaven. Christian syncretism will be on the left of Jesus, grouped in with unbelievers, devil worshippers, drunkards, idolater, blasphemers, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. These will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
The kingdom was prepared for God’s elect before the foundation of the world. We should take that to mean before creation. Thus, God’s will in heaven is established on the earth.
God, Himself, has prepared a kingdom for us. Think of the care, the diligence, the love that is displayed here. When a father takes great pains to prepare a place for his family to travel to, vacation, or even prepare a residence, it is an expression of his love for them. God, the Father, cares for us that way. It is deeply personal.

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
We know that God was not thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, hungry or in prison.  As God, He does not have physical needs.
After the cross, the disciples are no doubt exceedingly humbled by these words. Jesus was all of these things. And the disciples did not succeed in ministering to Him but rather, abandoned Him, failing miserably. I suppose as they remembered these words and wrote them down, they were exceedingly motivated to stand by Jesus and His calling upon them. They quickly made a switch to the sheepside and stayed there.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
The disciples of Jesus are faithful at ministering to the needs of the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked and those in prison. In fact, worldwide, you can see all of these sorts of ministries flow directly from Jesus’s call to ministry here.
It is Christians, for the most part, who take food to the hungry around the world, dig and establish wells for clean water, receive refugees from around the globe, provide clothing for the poor and fight for the rights of prisoners, particularly persecuted Christians.
We do this partially because of these words and warnings of Jesus. However, the motivation is not fear of being judged harshly by Jesus. Christians have a desire to bless people because they have been blessed. That is one reason that the saints, the sheep, are surprised by the Lord’s commendation. What, they think,  you are rewarding us? Isn’t this is exactly what you expected of us? Besides, we do this not because we have to, but because we want to. We do not expect any extra rewards.
Who Is Jesus Talking About Serving? Primarily, brothers and sisters in the Lord. No doubt our obligation extends further. We are to be neighbors and friendly to strangers or aliens but our first circle are those in our midst.
James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
1John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
As you have done it to the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it to me.
Who are the least? Poor, lame, hungry, thirsty, needy.
Who are the brothers? In the church, God’s people
What about the Good Samaritan? Neighbor
Shall we also recognize our neighbor as well as our brother? Yes but love your nearest neighbor first. Love your nearest brother or sister first.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Depart from me are words you never want to hear from the Lord. Here is Jesus preaching everlasting fire again. It not just the devil and his fallen angels that go there. It is also those gathered from the nations who will not submit to Jesus. It is men, women and children who hate God. This is sobering. It is real.
Everlasting fire- The doctrine of hell is real and true. The fire is everlasting and so is the torment.
Prepared- Think of how hot Nebuchadnezzer made the fire for Shadrock, Meshack and Obednego. It was prepared. It was so hot that it burned up those who through the three into it. God prepares this fire. It is much hotter.
Devil- The great deceiver and those who have fallen with him. Humans who side with the devil will not be pursuing pleasure in the end.

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
We can think of these as works of mercy and they are that. But they are meant as including all the works of piety. Christians are to do what God has called them to do.
Jesus set the example to lead by service. We serve others, particularly those weaker.

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
This is a sin of omission. It is not what they did that sent them to hell but what they did not do. Let us take great note of this. Unbelievers and pagans are guilty of many positive sins. That is, they do what the Lord tells them not to do. They lust, are drunken, lie, steal, commit adultery.
The sins condemned here are of a different sort. They are worse. They are worse because they are sins committed by those who know better. Those redeemed by the Lord, partakers of His covenant, have an obligation to do works in keeping with repentance. The works do not save. They reveal salvation. But the lack of works does condemn. They reveal a soul bereft of God’s Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” One who says He loves Jesus but does not do what Jesus says to do, is a liar. So, we should take care to produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
At the source of this fruit is the way that you treat those lesser than you.
Are you haughty and judgmental?
Do you abdicate your responsibilities to husband, wife, children, extended family, or to those needier saints in the household of faith?
Or, do you reveal by your words and actions a sincere Christ-like love towards the needy, poor, lame and sick?

Least- short, little, small
         It is a word that indicates those of less importance. It means short, little, small. It is obvious from this word, that we are take care of those who need care. The first group that comes to mind are the short people.
         I often greet our young ladies, with hey short people. I do that because it makes me feel tall. But these are the least, young ladies who are smaller than men and therefore vulnerable.
         I often refer to the smaller children, say age 1-3 as littles. These are the ones who need penned in because if not, they are in danger. They are little, least, short. They need fed and clothed, cared for at every moment.
         Who is caring for these short ones? For these littles? Is it not mothers? Is it not fathers? Is it not older siblings?
         What is care? Surely, it is food, clothing, comfort, visitation. Those things must be taken as literal.
         But it is also more than that. The shepherds of Israel did not tend to their flocks. They did not feed them the Word of God. Jesus constantly upbraids them for not knowing the Word. He asks them many times, “Have you not read?”
         Pastors must feed the Word, seek to clothe in Christ, tend to the sick of mind, who do not think God’s thoughts after Him, and correct them with the right thinking of the Word, visit and free sinners from their prisons of sin.
          Parents, you have all of these same responsibilities. Dads, you are primarily responsible to make sure this is happening in your homes. It does not happen automatically. It does not happen just because you take your wife and children to church, or Bibloids or to the GenNXT camp.
The washing, feeding, clothing, prison-breaking ministry of parents, and especially dads, is a life-time of bible reading, prayer, admonition, correction, encouragement, talking, listening, relationship building.
Husbands, you have been given weaker vessels. Moms, you have been given littles. Children, you have younger siblings, other kids who are lesser.
Will Jesus recognize that you have served Him by serving them? Or, have you failed in your responsibility to serve them?
The disciples initially failed Jesus but they repented. They got service wrong. They wanted to be the leaders who gave orders. They got loyalty wrong. They fled from Jesus.
But Jesus knows this is all going to happen. He knows that He will soon die for them, be raised from the dead and then send His Spirit to give them power to live godly lives.
Jesus knows those that are His and He commends them beforehand here as sheep who are the blessed of His father. Make sure you are on Jesus’s sheep side.
Jesus here commends them as those who do, in fact, fulfill His will by serving the least among them. So, let us do that which the Lord has called us to.


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