Rev. Rosemary Webb
23rd November 2014
Christ the King

This passage is really the end of the Story. When I was young I loved the story ‘Black Beauty’, but every time I re-read it I had to take a peep at the end to make sure it still ended happily, I never could quite trust that it might not change, that Black Beauty would be sad again! And if I am truthful, when starting a book, I still often look at the last couple of pages – just to check what is going to happen! Yes, I know it’s all a bit pathetic.

But Jesus knows our weaknesses, and in the Gospel we have just heard, he is letting us have a peep at what lies ahead, letting us see the end of the story.

The passage follows on after the parable of the ten virgins and the Talents, parables to help us get our lives in order, and now he is telling us what happens next.

Jesus was talking to the disciples in the gathering dusk on the Mount of Olives, he knew what lay ahead for him He knew that his enemies were making their plans to arrest him, to twist the evidence and then to crucify him. He knew time was running out and he was telling the disciples what lay ahead for them, and for future generations, for us.

He is telling the disciples that he is King; he will be their judge and the judge of all people. But he also is showing that he is caring, that he loves all people, that he wants all people to reach salvation. The path may seem narrow, but it is a fair path, it is a path we can all travel, it calls on us to love our neighbour, to help each other.

In many ways Christ’s discourse is very similar to how many of us have talked to our own children. Perhaps they are preparing for examinations, we know, because we have been there ourselves, that to be successful you have to revise, to concentrate on the subjects, because if you don’t there is no way you can achieve your full potential. Most of us are not geniuses but we can try our best. And I believe it is the same in life, we know we are not perfect, but we are called to serve God by thinking of others, to show compassion and love.

Throughout his time of earth Christ called on the people to listen to God, to do God’s will, and he still calls on us to do the same. He was fulfilling the ancient call of the prophets that the earth would be filled with the righteousness of God, but that only those who listen and obey God will enter.

But why is Jesus judging between the sheep and the goats and not the sheep and wolves. He is not judging between good and evil but between all of us. We are all born equal. Just as when we were studying for exams it was our choice whether we worked hard to achieve success or not, so in life it is our choice whether we meet the challenge God sets for us.

God’s challenge is nothing to do with achievement or success it is to do with reaching out to others, remembering that God suffers with his children, that in reaching out to those who are suffering we are, in fact, reaching out to God.

Over and over again Jesus criticised the Pharisees for holding themselves up as true followers of God because they knew The Law, they could recite it word for word, but what they couldn’t do is to understand what God meant by it. What greater tragedy could they incur than being so sure they understood everything, had got it right, that they couldn’t see God when they met Jesus face to face.

Jesus always reached out to the needy, he was always concerned about the sick, the lonely, the outcast, in so doing I believe he is saying that it isn’t theological knowledge which makes us a Christian but the way we lead our lives.

Jesus is saying it is not enough to say we love him, to tell others that they should come to church, to read the Gospel, of course we should do those things but the sign of a true Christian is someone who hears the call of the lonely, those who are suffering, who are sad and turn to them without question. His message to us is that if we ignore someone we are ignoring him.

Christ is separating the hypocrites from those who genuinely love, those who are false from those who have true faith.

I think also we must be careful to help without appearing to think ourselves righteous, without thinking people somehow lesser than ourselves, for if want to draw people to Christ we must make them understand they are equals, they are not inferior.

If we think back to our schooldays I think most of us will realise that when we were in school it was those teachers who treated us with a degree of respect, even when we were wrong, not those who seemed to go out of their way to make us feel small, who got the best results out of us
We want all people to turn to Christ, so I believe we must treat them with love, with respect, invite them to join us with a genuine smile, for would we wish to join the church is we hadn’t been treated like that.

There are times when I feel the church at large can be very quick to condemn, to call people sinners, nowhere in that passage does Jesus call us to do that, he says quite clearly in the Gospel that he will do that, he will judge the righteous from the Sinners, our role is to draw people into
His body into the church through love and compassion.

And one last thing I may have had to keep making sure that Black Beauty ended happily, but I don’t have to worry that God will change this Gospel passage because his word is the Truth, it is his promise, God keeps his word.

Mt 25:31-46