The Second-Last Sunday in the Church Year

Today's Reading: Matthew 25:31-46

Daily Lectionary: Jeremiah 38:1-28; Matthew 28:57-66

"All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:32)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Making the cut" is a big deal. When you try out for the team or want a big role in the play or you are working for that band solo, you want to "make the cut." Making the cut is about going all-out to demonstrate that you have what it takes to be successful in whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, this idea of "making the cut" is often read into Jesus' words about the sheep and the goats. Have you done enough good works for other people or made Jesus' cut and do you get the everlasting kingdom?

Notice something very important. When the sheep and goats stand before the Lord, they are ALREADY sheep and goats. They aren't sheep and goats because they did or didn't do good works. They are sheep and goats because they are either in Christ or not. They are sheep because the salvation Christ won at the cross for them has been applied to them in the waters of Holy Baptism. The goats are goats because they have rejected Christ's forgiveness and salvation and trust in their own works.

Sheep don't worry about good works. They do them. They just don't measure and count and compare. They live their lives trusting in their Baptism into Christ, fed by His Body and Blood. Jesus lives in them and through them does good works. When you stand before your Lord on that day, you'll be amazed at all you've done without even knowing it. The goats, on the other hand, think they've done enough for Jesus. How could He not let them in? Because their faith and trust is in themselves and not Him.

But Jesus has rescued you from such a false faith. The Good Shepherd has made you His little lamb. And the Father has a kingdom all ready for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O Lord, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, being ever mindful of the end of all things and the day of Your just judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with You forever hereafter; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Second-Last Sunday)


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