Reflections: Friday of the Third-Last Week

Today’s Reading: Matthew 25:31-46

Daily Lectionary: Jeremiah 23:21-40; Matthew 25:31-46

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” (Mt. 25:34)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats can be confusing. This parable is about judgment day, when all people have to stand before Jesus and be judged. But Jesus will not welcome many to eternal life and salvation. Many will go to eternal death and condemnation.

Who can be saved? In Mt. 25, it seems like Jesus is saying that salvation comes by doing enough good works. He praises those who fed Him, clothed Him, visited Him, etc. But He condemns many who thought they had done enough good works and tells them He never knew them. If you have to rely on your works to be saved, you will never be certain of your salvation. You will doubt, because there’s always some sin in your history. Further, you won’t be able to be saved. No one has done enough, not you, not your pastor, no one. No one can be saved by doing enough works.  

But the parable of the sheep and goats is not about salvation by works. It is about salvation through faith in Christ alone. How so? Jesus tells the sheep that they get to ‘inherit’ salvation. How does one inherit?  Not by works! Rather, one must be chosen by a person before he dies. Then after he dies, his will and testament announce that the heir can now receive the inheritance. For Christians, Jesus has chosen you out of great love to redeem you from your sins. He lived perfectly in your place, and gave His innocent life to die for your sins. But before He died, Jesus set up His will and testament – the new testament in His blood given at the Lord’s Supper. Here He offers you forgiveness, life and salvation. And His death for you makes that inheritance real. You can reject it in unbelief. You can reject this inheritance His death has provided. But, why would you want to? By this inheritance that you did not work for or earn, you receive eternal salvation. The good works Jesus mentions in Mt. 25 are the proof your faith in Christ was real. These works were evidence of faith, but not reasons why you can be saved. God be praised. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

“I do not merit favor, Lord, My weight of sin would break me; In all my guilty heart’s discord, O Lord, do not forsake me. In my distress this comforts me That You receive me graciously, O Christ, my Lord of mercy!” (LSB 625:4; public domain)

-Pastor Robert Mayes is Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Zion St. John Lutheran Church in Beemer and Wisner, NE.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.