Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our theme for today is the final judgment. The Scriptures say that this world will not end by colliding with a meteor or by climate change, but in the victory of Christ and His judgment of all nations. Jesus Christ came for the first time in humility to serve men and rescue them from eternal death. He was born of the Virgin Mary in the manger, He grew up as the son of Joseph the carpenter. He fulfilled the Law of God in our places, He also suffered the wrath of God in our places. But, on the third day He rose again, ascended into heaven to rule the universe to the right of Almighty God the Father, and one day He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. In our reading of the Old Testament (Daniel 7: 9-14), the Ancient of Days is the Father and He who appears as the Son of Man who came before the Ancient of days is the Son of God, incarnate as Jesus Christ.
"And He was given dominion, glory, and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages might serve Him; his dominion is everlasting dominion, which will not pass away, and His kingdom one that will not be destroyed. "
This is hope for those who believe and a threat for those who do not believe. This week it was my privilege to see this hope in the last hours of Graciela Pérez de Brito, mother, grandmother and faithful member of the Lutheran Church "Corpus Christi" in Barinas. Suddenly, the lady fell ill and when I visited her in the Luís Razetti Hospital, she was conscious but unable to use her arms and legs. And there was almost no control of her lips and tongue. However, she confessed her sins in the way she could, and I gave her the body and blood of Christ in, under and with the bread and wine for the last time. Therefore, Graciela passed in complete certainty that she would receive the crown of life before the throne of Christ in the final judgment.
Here is a point of reflection for us. Jesus Christ ascended the clouds as Savior of the world and will return in the clouds as King of kings and Judge of the nations. As in this painting, he has in one hand the globe of the world and in the other the balance of justice. According to the Scriptures, all will all have to give an account of their lives before the throne of Christ. How do we understand this if we are saved apart from the works of the law? Christ has paid the price of our sins, so what does the final judgment mean to us?
Our text says: "Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you were drinking, I was a foreigner, and you took me in, I was naked, and you covered me, sick, and you visited me, in prison, and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and we sustained you, or thirsty, and give you to drink, and when did we see you a foreigner, and we took you in, or naked, and we covered you, or when we saw you sick or in prison, and we came to you?” He will say to them, "Truly, I say to you, as soon as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Then he will say to those on the left, "Get away from me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and your angels, for I was hungry, and you did not give me food, I was thirsty, and you did not give me drink I was a foreigner, and you did not take me in; I was naked, and you did not cover me; sick, and in jail, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and we did not serve you?" Then he will answer them, saying: “Truly I say to you, as soon as you did not do it to one of these little ones, you did not do it to me,” and they will go to eternal punishment, and the righteous to eternal life. "
Look at the difference between sheep and goats. The sheep will not take their good works into account. They do not do good works to justify themselves in the eyes of God, but in response to the love that God had shown them in his Son, Jesus Christ. We are children of God by baptism, and on the day of final judgment we will stand before the throne covered with the righteousness of Christ, the blood of Christ. Because of Christ, our sins do not matter at all. We will receive eternal life for free, a gift from God, because we trust in the grace and mercy of God.
On the other side, the goats will not take their sins into account. They will forget all those times that they did not love God with all their hearts and souls, and all those times that did not help their neighbors in their need and affliction. They will seek from God what they deserve and will receive what they deserve: The wrath of God and eternal death.
Therefore, like Graciela, we must trust in the grace of God, not in our merits, until the end. In this hope we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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