Sunday, November 14, 2010

Trinity 26: A Devotional Commentary

Daniel 7:9-14 I saw until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat: his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I saw at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke; I saw even until the animal was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the animals, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

2 Peter 3:3-14 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight.

Matthew 25:31-46 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; For I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.’ Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

When Jesus returns all the nations will be gathered before Him and Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. So which are you? Do you spend your time feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and clothing the naked? Do you bring the homeless into your own home and give them shelter? Do you visit those who are sick and in prison? Or do you think that these poor and starving people simply need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Are you too worried about protecting yourself and your home to invite the homeless in and give them a place to sleep and eat? Are you too scared of getting sick yourself to visit the sick? Do you visit those in nursing homes or would you rather avoid being reminded of death? Do you think that those in prison are not worthy of your visit because of what they have done? Do you get angry when the government takes some of your money and gives it to the poor?

If you are honest with yourself, you will see that you do not behave like the sheep that are described here but like the goats. The Shepherd King is hidden in the losers around you. The Shepherd King is hidden in the poor and starving and sick and imprisoned and thirsty and strangers. Your response is probably the same as that of the goats, "If we knew that was you Jesus, we certainly would have done all these things."

Who then can be saved? If you read closely, you will see that the sheep and the goats are not separated based upon what they have done but who they are. The sheep did not even realize that they did any of these good works. The good news is that Jesus accomplished all of these works for you. You become a sheep through the waters of Holy Baptism. You are righteous because you have been given righteousness of the Shepherd. The Shepherd suffered hunger for you and not only feeds you with your daily bread but gives you His very body to eat. The Shepherd suffered thirst for you on the cross and not only gives you your daily drink but gives you His very blood to drink. The Shepherd became a stranger for you and was mocked and ridiculed for you so that you are no longer a stranger to God. The Shepherd hung naked on the cross in order to clothe you in His righteousness. The Shepherd suffered sickness to heal us of our physical and spiritual sickness. The Shepherd was imprisoned to set us free from sin, death and the devil. The Shepherd suffered our punishment so that we will receive eternal life.

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