November 1, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Saturday after the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 31, 2 Kings 23:24-30, 3 John
Evening – Psalm 27, Dt. 5:22, Mt. 25:31

Commentary, Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory” (vs. 31).  Usually interpreted as referring to the Second Coming, even these words could refer first to Christ’s “coming” to Jerusalem in judgment (see 24:27, 30).  Separating the sheep from the goats could refer to distinguishing between believers and unbelievers to save the Christians from the coming devastation of the city.  Inheriting the kingdom (vs. 34) could refer as much to being in Christ and having eternal life now as to being in Heaven or in the Kingdom in its full revelation in the new heaven and earth.

Yet our Lord does seem to at least hint about something beyond Jerusalem, and even beyond this world.  It is as though the destruction of Jerusalem is a precursor to and symbol of His Second Coming, and the language of these verses may apply to both.  Certainly the Kingdom prepared for God’s people from the foundation of the world includes God’s people in this world and in Heaven.  Israel was the visible manifestation of that Kingdom in the Old Testament; the Church is its manifestation in the era between the crucifixion and return of Christ.  Yet neither Israel nor the Church is the Kingdom in its fullest sense.  It will not appear in its fullest sense until Christ returns and brings in the new Heaven and new earth.  Only then will all things be gathered together in Christ, and the purpose of God for His creation be accomplished (Eph. 1:9 and 10).

Meanwhile, we are to care for one another, and ministering to those in the Church/Body of Christ is spoken of as ministering to Christ Himself; “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (25:40).  Those who refuse to care for God’s people show themselves to be goats and cursed rather than sheep; “Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not unto me” (25:45).

Caring for the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned also has a direct reference to the Church’s ministry in the world.  There is a spiritual sense to the word, “hungry,” which refers to a deep hunger in the soul that can only be fed with the Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35).  There is a thirst in the soul that can only be quenched by Living Water (Jn. 4:10).  There is a nakedness that can only be covered by putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27).  There is a prison that can only be opened by Christ Himself (Lk. 4:18).  The Gospel of Christ is the means by which the Church gives this spiritual food, drink and clothing to the hungry, thirsty and naked.  The Church must proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  Those who do not proclaim it are goats, not sheep. 

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