THE BIG INVITATION!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The least of these is our Evangelistic mission, and we must reach them through compassion

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Sunday, September 9, 2018
Paul F. Evans
Introduction (Text: NIV)
Matthew 25:31–46 NIV
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
“You old goat!”
That's not a very nice comment
-But it does describe some people rather accurately, don’t you think?
-It conjures up a picture of a crabby and cantankerous old man, who makes everyone's life miserable!
So why is Jesus picking on the goats?
-That's the question we would get in 21st century America!
-Sheep's wool was more valuable that goats wool
What the goats produced didn’t have the value as what the sheep produced
-So Jesus used that, and the practice at shearing time no doubt, of separating the sheep from the goats as metaphor for judgment
The sheep were not sheep because they produced sheep-wool and the goats were not goats because they produced goat-wool
-The sheep produced sheep-wool because they were sheep, and the goats produced goat-wool because they were goats by nature
The righteous in the parable were not good because they did good works, but they did good works because they were righteous
-And the wicked didn't do the good works they should because they are wicked
-The works in and of themselves didn’t make them righteous or wicked!
-They are not judged merely because of what they did, but because of what they are
-What they produce indicates what they are!
This familiar passage of scripture pictures the return of Christ to the world to execute judgment on humanity
-To separate the wicked from the righteous
-The kingdom of God to finally establish, God's rule in the earth, "his glorious throne" (; cf. )
-So this is about the final act of God in the world before there is a new heaven and a new earth (cf. )
-Unless we understand that we will completely miss the point
-There is room for improvement in our standing with God, but the time to address that is now while we have a chance to make the right choices and act in the right way
Jesus describes his return as the coming of the Son of Man in his glory ()
-This means that when the Son of Man comes, he comes as the great Messianic champion of Daniel ()
-In Daniel's vision the Son of Man ascends into heaven on the clouds into the presence of the Ancient of Days
-He is given a kingdom that will not pass away ()
Development (Text: NIV)
1. The Arrival of the Son of Man!
A. Paul describes this from the perspective of Jesus ascension after his resurrection, when he entered heaven to assume the throne at the right hand of God (, cf. )
-Daniel seems to describe the exaltation of the Son of Man from the same perspective, of his arrival in heaven on the clouds of glory
-When the king comes he will divide of the wicked from the righteous is described
B. What is critical to the parable is on what basis righteousness and wickedness are recognized
-Like sheep and goats, it by what they produce!
-The sheep fed the Lord when he was hungry, gave him water when he was thirsty, clothed him when he was naked and visited him in prison ()
C. They object that they never met the Lord in any of those conditions!
-His reply is that since they did it for the least and most powerless among them, they had done it for him ()
-In other, words the serving God consisted of serving others, especially the needy
D. This answers to the two greatest commands and why John insists that we cannot love God and hate our brother at the same time!
-This may look like works righteousness, but it is not
2. The Acceptance of the Least of These!
A. The key to righteousness is not being a big-shot in church
-Righteousness is not measured by religious piety
-Rather it is seen in service to the "least of these"
B. The least of these are those for whom God has great love, but who by the world's standards are insignificant or unimportant
-They are the powerless, forgotten, outcast, shunned and disdained -These are the sorts of people who Jesus had time for and who followed him about, because he showed concern for them
C. In the Old Testament, Israel was commanded to show concern and love for the outcast, the alien, the poor, the widow and the orphan, everyone who disadvantaged or powerless against injustice and prejudice
-This Jesus said is a demonstration and indicator of true righteousness
Conclusion (Text: NIV)
If we are going to win people to Christ, and show the love of God to lost people, it is often going to mean that we must care about the "least of these." They are our neighbors and we need to bring them to church to hear the gospel. The way we treat others and regard their salvation indicates not how wicked they are but something about our nature, whether or not we are truly Jesus disciples, and righteous in the eyes of God. In this parable there is a warning about self-righteousness and a satisfied attitude because we are saved. By refusing to serve God, by denying those who are in need, if we fail to share the gospel with them and show kindness to them, then we will be like the goats, what we produce will indicate the true nature of our hearts.
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