This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Christian year. We have journeyed through much of Matthew’s gospel over this last year and we arrive at this place that celebrates the kingship of Jesus. It’s a glorious kind of Sunday. The liturgical colors for this Sunday are white and gold. This is a Sunday that we celebrate with glitter and sparkle and shine! The first lines of our scripture passage from Matthew lift up a vision of “the Son of Man” in glory, surrounded by “all the angels.” Matthew includes this magnificent vision of the “end time” but then takes what might feel like a sharp turn in the opposite direction. The king becomes a shepherd and the shepherd begins to talk about separating the goats from the sheep. And as we move deeper into this passage we realize that this king is anything but typical. This king is not about the crown. This king is not about the power. This king is not about dominion. This king and this kingdom are marked by values that are altogether different.
As we explore this passage on the final Sunday of the Christian year, we’ll revisit some of our United Methodist roots, remembering that “Acts of Mercy” are foundational in our Wesleyan heritage. I hope you’ll join us on Sunday for our livestream worship at 9:00. Please know that all are welcome to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions that are listed below. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please notify the church office or Pastor Lori and we’ll send you the Zoom link. Drop-ins are welcome! Looking forward to being together on Sunday!
Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.
“Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘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 welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”
Consider these questions:
- What are the qualities of Jesus as King? What is the nature of this unique kingdom?
- Who do you think Jesus is referring to when he talks about “the least of these?”
- What do you make of the fact that both groups were surprised in this text…those who were compassionate and those who were not?
- How do we see or fail to see Christ in others?
- What acts of mercy are most needed in our world today?