Posted by on Nov 23, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Grace Received – Grace Shared

Dear Gracious Lord….we are so very thankful that you are with us every day. You know our comings and our goings. You are there to strengthen us when times are unsettled. Thank you for your care, your forgiveness of our shortcomings and for your Son who you sent to save us.

Our gospel lesson for this Sunday, as we celebrate Christ the King is from Matthew 25:31-46. This is the final parable Jesus told to the disciples and the crowd gathered around Him. In this parable we are seeing Christ coming back as the Son of Man. He is coming back and will sit on his throne while all people and nations are gathered around him.

The scene pictured here is the judgment time…after the tribulation and the second coming. This is the time Christ will begin his reign. We see that all nations are included in this scene. We have seen Christ use the sheep and goats in previous parables and here they are separated and placed on either side of the king.

The king begins to talk to the groups of goats and sheep. He says to the one group that is at his right hand, that they will be blessed and will inherit the kingdom. He says that because they took care of him when he needed help, they ministered to him in prison, they fed him when he was hungry, they welcomed him as a stranger, they will inherit the kingdom.

The people of the sheep questioned when this all happened. They had been busy and had just kept doing what they felt was right to do. Then, the king says, “Because you did it to the least of my family, you did it to me.”

Then, the king spoke to those on his left hand who had done nothing to help people. They had been selfish with their property, they had not taken care of the sick, they had not fed or clothed those in need. Because of this, these people would be sent to the eternal fire. The people questioned the king about this….as they claimed they had not seen him in need. And the king said, because you didn’t care for those who needed the help….they had not done a good deed for the king and they would go to eternal punishment.

It’s an interesting scenario that we have here. Some people would argue that this is a story about works righteousness. That we gain the kingdom by working for and with the people hoping to gain our salvation…and making sure everyone knows how much we work and how hard we work for God.

However, this is FAR from that concept. This story is about the fact that those who believe in God, who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and are part of God’s family, work with and for other people because they are thankful for all God has given to them. The righteous do the good for people because that is how God wants us to act on his earth. Not becoming righteous because they do the good for other people.

The strong, obvious implication here is that good deeds do not produce righteousness. Even those the people on the right hand were often not included in the larger group of accepted people.

But, they had learned to love through being part of God’s family. They had learned to care for others through being a part of God’s family and God’s kingdom. They realized and had found out that they were responding to salvation as a response to God’s love for them…not because they had earned or were worthy of it.

Those on the left hand were not true followers of Jesus Christ. They did not show kindness to believers and had no connection with Jesus. Because of their choice to not believe, they would be condemned to the eternal fire.

One of the strong messages of this parable is the illustration of the Great Commandment Jesus gave to his disciples. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And a second is like it…you must love your neighbors as yourself.” You show that love by serving others because God loved you. Loving your neighbors by helping them in need may also bring them to the knowledge of God and Jesus saving actions by dying for us on the cross.

Jesus also was implying that you cannot separate the two commandments. You love God AND you love your neighbor. If you try to love God and not your neighbor…that doesn’t work at all. The two are fused together.

Grace received MUST be Grace shared. That is what grace is. Jesus was telling the people that they had received grace because they had lived it out in their lives every day. Because they did this, they would inherit the kingdom. There is no specific time or place when the caring for others took place or will take place. It is whenever grace and love is shown to other people. It could have been easy..it could have been difficult…but when grace was shown to others grace was also received.

We are part of God’s family. We know we have received God’s grace and forgiveness. We are to continue to show this to the world as God’s disciples. What will be our continued behavior as children of God toward those in need?

Christ is both divine and flesh.

We are connected to God….as well as we are connected to the world. Christ is both divine and flesh.

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