The Judge Has Reached His Verdict

2nd Sunday of End Times: The Last Judgment

Sermon Text: Matthew 25:31-46

Did you know that there is a file out there on me? There is an outside observer’s view on my qualifications as a minister on file at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Since I began studying to be a pastor in college six years ago my professors have been keeping a record of not only my grades but also my personality, habits, hobbies, and even my wife. The leaders of the synod will use this information in two years to determine if I am qualified to become a pastor and if so at what church my gifts will best be used to serve God and his people. It is kind of an intimidating thought. My professors have been observing me for six years and they regularly have been getting together in a room and talking about me; my strengths and weaknesses.

I think it would be weird, uncomfortable and embarrassing at times to sit in on one of those meetings or worse yet to have my file read in front of all my peers or you fine people…

Did you know there is a file out there on you? Since you were conceived an outside observer has been keeping a file on your qualifications. This outside observer is not really outside though; he has been able to read every thought you have ever had. There is a record of absolutely everything you have ever thought, said or done and it will be used on Judgment Day to determine what you deserve for all eternity.

The courtroom is set. The trial is about to begin. At stake is the eternity of your soul. The Bible lesson from Daniel sets the scene. There you stand on a raised platform. You look to your left and to your right and what do you see? A mass of human eyes just staring at you; you begin to recognize some of the faces. Everyone you have ever known is standing there looking at you. You look ahead and there in front of you is a throne surrounded by thousands of angels staring right through you. A chill runs down your spine. Then you notice the throne, brilliant and beautiful, you see what seems to be tongues of fire flickering on its surface.

And then He enters. The angels snap to attention. His face, hair and clothes are a purer white than you have ever seen before; you can barely look at him. He approaches the throne sits down and a river of fire flows from before him, like a serpent it winds its way toward you. When he is seated, suddenly, within the view of every person a book slowly opens. You notice the cover; on it your name is engraved. The courtroom is set, your trial is about to begin.

Suddenly Matthew’s words spring to mind, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 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’… 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 all his angels.’”

Your mind begins to race. What do you have to do to get on his right side? You would give anything to be on his right!

“Be holy as I the Lord your God am holy!” It is easy enough to understand what is commanded, but have you done it? This is what runs through your mind as that book containing your every thought, word and deed slowly opens in front of you.

Your heart drops like a rock into your gut. It’s all you can do to keep from being sick right then and there. You know all too well what is going to be read out loud in front of the whole world, in front of the Judge, in front of God.

You remember that time when your temper flared up inside of you and you lashed out at your little boy because he just seems to lack even an ounce of common sense.

You remember that time when you looked at that scantily clad woman. You remember those disgusting thoughts that ran through your mind as you lusted after her.

You remember when you let those hateful words stream from your mouth about your co-worker. And all because you were too stubborn to talk about your differences, too stubborn to forgive whatever wrong was done to you, even though you are about to beg God’s forgiveness for a much greater wrong.

You remember that time when you made the choice to buy a mega flat-screen TV and helped pay for it by skimping on your offerings of love to the God you now stand before.

You remember when you opted out of volunteering, attending bible class and reading the Bible yourself so that you could get a longer nap or catch up on some “me time.”

There is not a chance in the world that you are going to be on God’s right side… The only thing you deserve for your gross unholiness is that eternal fire prepared for the devil and all his angels. You don’t even want to go through this. You don’t even need to see five minutes of your life because you know where you belong. You wish you could just walk off to God’s left and get it over with.

Suddenly you look down at the book and you see not yourself, but a different man.

You see his arms gather a child into the most loving embrace you have ever seen. “Let the little children come to me,” you hear him say.

You see him walk past a beautiful woman and hear his thoughts. “I love you as if you were my own daughter. I love you more than you will ever know.”

You see him standing in front of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. This woman in effect just slapped him in the face. He helps her off the ground, brushes the dirt off her and says, “Neither do I condemn you.” You hear him think, “I love you even though the world may hate you, even though you wronged me, I love you.”

You watch as he passes by opportunity after opportunity to make wealth, fame and power his. You hear him think, “There is more to life than money; I have a more important role to play than gaining simple fame; I love these sinners too much to focus on obtaining earthly power.”

You see him as a boy sitting in the temple of God. So at peace, so at home, there is no place on earth he would rather be. You see his exasperated mother enter and scold him for scaring her the way he did. He calmly replies “Why were your searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Suddenly you see a three foot tall block of wood in an empty courtyard. You hear some shouting; a bunch of men burst into the courtyard dragging this mystery man whose life is recorded in your book. They chain him to the block of wood and beat him to within an inch of his life. You stand there mortified as his flesh is torn and his blood splatters the ground. You watch them shove a crown of thorns on his head, they slap him, mock him, spit in his face.

You see him stagger and drop under the weight of a cross. The guard kicks him and whips him yet again.

You see a nail driven into an outstretched hand. This man doesn’t let a peep escape from his lips. He just takes it all. The cross slides into a hole. You watch as this man labors in excruciating pain just to breathe.

You hear him say, of all things he could say, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He whispers, “It is finished.” He bows his head and dies.

The book closes. You look and sure enough, it is your name on the cover. You are speechless, dumbfounded. The Judge looks at you and says, “Neither do I condemn you… Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

The verdict has been read, the angels burst into song. Contrary to what you deserved you have been found not guilty!…

Quite the scene, isn’t it? Guess what? It’s real and it’s yours! Nothing can take your peace away from you. When Judgment Day comes you know the verdict before it is even read and all because of Jesus.

Why in the world are we so blessed to go to heaven? God says, “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 your clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We failed so often to do those things… But Jesus did them for us. Jesus did all those holy things on our behalf, perfectly and then he took the punishment that we deserved on his whipped and bloodied. Now when God looks at us all he sees is the blood of Jesus. All he knows is that he loves us and that heaven is ours because of his Son.

It makes you smile, doesn’t’ it? Doesn’t it do even more than make you smile? It makes me explode with God’s love to this world. It makes us tolerant when dealing with children. It makes us endeavor to respect the opposite sex and keep God’s commands. It makes us quick to forgive and love. It makes our pockets fly open in love of God for the advancement of his Church on earth. It makes us not only willing but thrilled to offer our time in service to God and the study of his word.

The Judge has reached his verdict on us. We are “not guilty” and all because of Jesus. We have no fear of Judgment Day because we already know the outcome. Let that verdict sink in. It will ring in your ears like wedding bells. It will guide your every footstep as you go out into God’s world to showing God’s love to sinners.

Amen.

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About vicarhoff

I am thrilled and honored to be serving as vicar/intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School for a whole year!

Posted on November 7, 2011, in Church, Preschool, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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