Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sermon for 11/13/16: Second-Last Sunday of the Church Year

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There Will Be Goats

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

There will be no goats. That is how most people picture it. That is how most people envision the outcome of the final judgment at the end of the world: there will be no goats. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory… He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” That is the picture that the Lord Jesus paints for us. But most people envision a lot of vacant space on the left hand side of the judgment throne because they see no goats.
That, of course, would be a great thing to see. It would be wonderful to see everyone in the world standing at the right-hand side of God, and to have no goats on the left. After all, those on the left will go away into everlasting punishment, while the right-hand side is destined for eternal life. It truly would be marvelous to have a picture with no goats. But those who see a picture with no goats are using the lens of human opinion, and not divine truth. They are seeing something other than what God Himself presents in His Scriptures. They are envisioning matters according to a different spirit, rather than the Holy Spirit. They envision a god of their own imagination: a false god so loving, so forgiving, that He will ignore the faithlessness of those who ignored His Word, who forsook His gifts, who did not love and serve their neighbor.
Here is the divine truth, depicted in the Holy Scriptures, revealed by the Holy Spirit: there will be goats. In fact, there will be more goats than sheep. Sadly, we will see a lot of vacant space on the right hand of the judgment throne. Our Savior desires all men to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, and He has made room for many sheep. But that open space on His right hand will remain unfilled. There will be many goats on the left, for they have spurned the salvation Christ has won for them.
But the Good Shepherd has come to separate the sheep from the goats, and He does so without hesitation. Judgment Day is not a day of timid hesitation; it is the final day of ultimate action. This is the Day on which evil is consigned to the fiery abyss. This is the day of the righteous justice of our God. On the Last Day, the Lord Jesus Christ will not need to sit and ponder His judgment, wondering what He will do with those who are sitting on the fence. There is no doubt at all who is a sheep or a goat. He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name, and He has come to take them home.
How long has he waited for this day? How long has he anticipated our arrival and waited in eager expectation for our release from this world of suffering and sorrow? How long has he waited to bring us to the green pastures and still waters of our eternal home? He has waited long for this day, for He will finally say to His faithful people, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” You cannot earn your status as a sheep; it is a free gift from God, won for you by Jesus, given to you in the waters of Holy Baptism.
You who are blessed by the Father; you who have been filled with the Holy Spirit and born again in the waters of Holy Baptism; you who have been given the gift of living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who trust in His suffering and death for your salvation; you who have fed upon the Bread of Heaven and have supped at the Table of the Lord: your wool shines whiter than snow, washed clean in the Blood of Him who died and rose again! He knows your name. He has been waiting since the beginning for you, and on that day He will rejoice to welcome you home to His Kingdom. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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