Saturday of Trinity 22 – Matthew 25:31-46

| November 21, 2014 | 0 Comments More

David Miles Throne in Heaven squareMatthew 25:31-46

            We Americans are the richest people who have ever lived.  I’m using statistics that are now almost a decade old (and I think these numbers are even higher), but 34% of our families own 2 TVs, and 40% own 3 or more.  Our average family has 2 cars, while 18.7% of us have 3 or more, not to mention computers, VCRs, stereos, houses, etc.  We live longer, with better medical treatment than ever before, we have unlimited access to things to entertain us, and our choices in food are so great that they’re bewildering.

We live like kings, and yet the perception of many of us is that we are just getting by, perhaps because we are comparing ourselves to the wrong thing: the celebrities and the super-rich of the world

In the same way, we Christians are the richest people on the face of the earth. Every Christian is inheriting the greatest kingdom ever known.  And yet as we live in this sinful world, we sometimes complain about what is not yet here – heaven in all its glorious perfection – instead of being thankful for the good things we already have in the kingdom of God.

But there’s something you should know today: the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus has been talking about for 3 chapters has come!  The King is on His throne, and His kingdom is here, although not in all of its power and glory.  You might also want to know that you have been privileged to rule with the King, starting today.

The Kingdom of Heaven, as I’ve said before, has 3 temporal aspects: initial, progressive, and final.  This is true both corporately, for the kingdom as a whole, and for lives of individuals.  Christ’s Kingdom was initiated at His first coming, and in our lives at baptism, and in our justification.   His Kingdom is progressively revealed throughout history and in our lives through the process of sanctification.  Finally, His Kingdom is consummated at the final judgment, and in what is the final stage for us, our glorification.

There is a dangerous tendency sometimes to think more of the first and the last, than about the middle.  We read the Old Testament or the Gospels and see God acting in power there, and we think about God’s final defeat of His enemies at the end of all time.  But do we pay enough attention to His establishment of His kingdom here and now?

John the Baptist proclaims the coming of Christ before Christ’s public ministry.  And what does he say?  What he doesn’t say is “Look!  the Kingdom of Heaven is 2000 years or more away, and God is far from you!”

What he does say, in Matthew 3:2, is “Repent . . .  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When Jesus sent out the 12 disciples in Matthew 10 and gave them power to do the things He did, He told them to say as they healed the sick and spread the gospel: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

That same kingdom is here this today!  The King is here.  He came to earth, and the genealogies of Matthew and Luke demonstrate that He was born of the kingly line: it was because He was a king that Herod wanted him killed, and even at His death Pilate unwittingly testified to His kingship.

He sits at the right hand of the Father now, from where He rules both heaven and earth.

He is here.  Jesus Christ is present on planet earth, wherever you are at this moment, and He is still the King of Kings.  Is He somehow here less completely than before the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension?

God is now.  He inhabits all time, and His rule is established forever.  The same King who proved His mastery over the natural forces of land and sea and over the supernatural forces of darkness, over sickness and death, is here now.  He witnessed your conception and birth, and He will be present, watching over you on the day you die.

He’s here, in space.  God has become man and has tabernacled with men.  And yet sometimes we feel that God is far off.

I believe that many of us carry around in our heads a mistaken mental picture of God.  I believe that many of us see God sitting around in the vast void of space and that heaven is somewhere infinitely away among the stars.  Such a view of God makes prayer very difficult, and the presence of God is so remote that He cannot be in every square inch of our lives.

But what if God inhabits the space all around you, as a spirit lives within a body, so intimately connected that you can’t easily separate them?  When God the Father spoke to the Son from heaven on a few occasions in the Gospels, that voice is very near to Christ, and those around can even hear it.  We live in a God-drenched world.

God is accessible.  Most people today have had electricity so long that it has ceased being a miracle to them.  But even in the 20th century there were homes that had no electricity.  Through programs of rural electrification, such as the TVA, suddenly electricity became instantly accessible.  All one had to do was to know how to gain access and a world of radio and central heat and air conditioning, of electric lights and appliances, opened up.  It was as if someone had said to those people “The kingdom of electricity is here!”  We can imagine their surprise and joy when they discovered this newfound access!

In the same way, the kingdom of God is here and now, accessible to all who are part of the Kingdom.  But all too often, like the TV or radio waves that are bouncing around the walls this very minute, we forget about God or believe His power to be too remote.

The King, whose kingdom you live in, comes to you every day.  The same King, Jesus Christ, who gave blind Bartimaeus back his sight, the same Lord who gave Lazarus back His life, the same Lord who wept, and whose bowels were filled with compassion while here on earth, is here in your presence today.  He’s present in the sacraments, and in His word. He’s present in prayer and in the Body of Christ around you.

But If the Kingdom of God is Here, then we should begin ruling with Christ Now!  You and I, in Christ, are seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6).  We have started to rule with Him.  Rule?  Rule what?  A king’s rule is the range of his effective will.  You already have rule over several countries that God has given you.  The question you need to ask yourself is not “Do I have the authority to rule?” but “How should I rule?”

You’re to rule yourself first and foremost, meaning body, mind, and soul.  This is the

point of Christian maturity.  You have material resources that God has given you rule over, and you have been given daily labor by Him that you are to govern.  You have God-given relationships that you are to govern, especially those of us who are parents.

We pray for this effective rule every day: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (i.e., that all would progressively come under His rule and will).

The amazing thing is that we get to co-operate in establishing His Kingdom by doing His will.  “My bread is to do the will of my Father,” He said, and He might just as easily have said, “My daily bread is to do the will of my Father.”

Because Christ rules, and we in a lesser way, we can even say that Christ rules through us. He isn’t here physically on the earth, but through His Church He is.  He rules through the Church, who is His Body, as He dwells in us through His Spirit.

As with His earlier disciples, He commissioned us to do the same things He did while on earth.  In John 14:12 He said,  “He who believes in me, the works that I do shall he also do; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” and later, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.”

And so we rule in God’s kingdom the same way Jesus Christ did: we serve, for “He who wants to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, let him be the servant of all.”  You must serve those who God has put under your rule.  The life of a parent is a never-ending work of feeding, cleaning, diapering, praying, educating, training, playing, disciplining, and sacrificing.

As Jesus teaches us today, in Matthew 25, we rule by loving.  When the Son of Man comes in all His glory with the angels to judge the nations, on what basis will he separate the sheep from the goats?  On whether or not in His name they fed the hungry and gave drink to the thirsty.  On whether or not they saw a stranger and invited him in, or visited those who were sick or in prison.

By doing good works, by loving, and by serving (that is, Christ in us), we rule in the kingdom of heaven.  If you do these things – if you rule by serving – great will be your reward in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Prayer:  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Points for Meditation: 

  1. Look for opportunities today to care for someone who has a need. Look for opportunities to console those who are lonely or discouraged. 
  2. How might it change the way you look at your life to think of it as a rule that God has given you to exercise?

Resolution:  I resolve to ask the Lord for one way He wants me to rule in His kingdom today and, having heard His will, to go out and do it, as it is in heaven. 

© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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