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Good News For All, For Now

November 25, 2023 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

finalChrist Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
November 26, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

The Last Sunday Of The Church Year
Good News For All, For Now

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him. And he will separate them from one another like a shepherd separates the sheep form the goats. And he will station the sheep to his right, and the goats to his left. (Mt. 25:31-33)

 

Today’s gospel is good news for all, for now.

Good news we say because Jesus again announces to his church in robust terms the hope that every Christian holds, the hope that fuels ever Christian breast, that he himself will return in glory with all his holy angels in attendance, to judge the living and the dead.

That he himself will gather us to his right side, and that the Judge, and Good Shepherd will lead his sheep to their eternal home. That we will stand in the final judgment. Not because we are pure, but because he is the Lamb without spot or blemish. Because by his suffering death and resurrection he took away our sins, covered them, dissolved them and separated them from us as far as “the east is from the west.” Indeed in him we are “the righteous” the Lord references. But again it is his righteousness that we bear, washed as we are in the Blood of the Lamb. And it is his “indestructible life” that we share. (Hebr. 7:16).

There is no condemnation or punishment left for sin now because Jesus bore it all on the cross. He answered for every sin, and every sinner ever born in this world. And so there is nothing left to us except blessedness, light and heavenly peace. We need no longer pay for sin or suffer for sin in purgatory (a ghastly teaching that flies in the face of the entire enterprise of salvation). Nor do we need any indulgences, another appalling notion that “defunds” the glories of Christ.

Will we yet suffer? Yes. But not as retribution, punishment or penalty, Jesus endured all that on the cross, forsaken momentarily even by the Father as he was dressed in the sins of the world. What more can we say, then? “If God be for us who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all? How will he not along with Christ give us all things.”

Will we yet suffer? Yes. Both as Christians for our faith, and as discipline and teaching dealt out to us from the hand of our loving, gracious and merciful Father who not only sends thorns into our side, but sustains us even more mightily by his love. “My grace is sufficient for thee,” he says.

Today’s gospel is further good news because not only are we declared clean by his Word, and judgment-proof by his love, but our daily lives now have meaning. As often as we “do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith” we are, in fact, loving Christ. Yes, that mysterious and thrilling sentence, “Ye have done it unto me.”

For, you see, we are not merely takers. But by redemption we are made givers as well. Herein we fulfill the words of our Lord, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We become partners with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 6:1) in doing holy works. Not silly self-devised deeds such as “saving the planet.” May those words never be heard from Christian lips.

But holy deeds, taught by Jesus in today’s gospel that will endure even in eternity. (Rev. 4:13) In showing our love for Christ, by factually giving to his people: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature manhood, to the measure of the stature, of the fullness of Christ.” Then “we will no longer be children, tossed about by every wind of cultural doctrine.” But fixed and focused on the goodness we hear in today's gospel. Feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, clothing the naked, taking in the strangers (which does not translate to national policy!), and in looking after the sick, the wounded the injured and those who are in prison for the Lord’s name and sake.

Yes, today’s gospel is good news for all, for now!

It is good news because it does not only console and fortify the sheep, but it also warns the goats. Who are the goats? They are the ones placed on the Lord’s left hand at the final judgment; and will be sent to the place that was originally prepared for the devil and his angels, when they revolted against their Creator, and joined the cause of the former Lucifer. He who is now darker than a black hole, sucking in as many as he possibly can. Before it is too late, even for him. He knows his time is short, and he is like a cornered animal who ravages the culture today.

Don’t join him. Don’t aid or abet him. Don’t thoughtlessly agree with his irrational propositions in order to be loved by your FB friends, or your family. “For anyone who loves father or mother or brother or sister more than me,” says Jesus, “is not worthy of me.” And so don’t talk trash.

God is binary. He is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, he kills and he makes alive, he creates and he destroys, he rewards and he punishes. And so the judgment we learn in today’s gospel will also be binary! So binary, indeed, that it will provoke a Karen-like-rant, from all the goats, that will echo in the bowels of hell forever.

Don’t talk trash, but rather learn from scripture whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise; and think about these things.

Yes there is still good news, for all, for now. But today’s gospel throws down the gauntlet at your feet. One can either gather with Christ, or scatter without him. One can know “the peace that surpasses understanding,” or one can join the devil in the eternal punishment that was prepared for the him and his angels.

Today’s gospel is not to be ignored! Because there is nothing tentative about our God and Father or about the Final Judgment that will occur exactly as stated in today’s gospel.

And so the good news is that it is not too late for you to renounce the devil, the culture or your chosen lifestyle. Instead love God. Love his people. Love his church. Love his doctrine. Love his Son by loving his people as taught us on this Last Sunday of the Church Year. Amen.