November 2017 Pastor's Message:
"Are You Ready for Judgement Day?"
The themes in Matthew’s Gospel draw our attention to the End Times and the theme of Judgment Day. The triplet stories of Matthew 25 include the line-up of The Ten Virgins, the Parable of the Talents, and the Final Judgment. In each of these accounts, Jesus teaches what will take place on the Last Day. In some respects, we have to look at each of these together, and then separately, then recombine them to get the full thrust of the urgent warning Jesus gives all people.
The Ten Virgins all had been invited to the wedding feast. They were all dressed and had their lamps, but five of them were wise enough to take extra oil as they knew the wait could be long. The foolish ones failed to bring that extra oil. All fell asleep, all were awaked that the Bridegroom was approaching. Only the wise would enter and join the celebration, while the other foolish ones would be caught in worldly pursuits and arrive too late. Lesson: Be faithful. Know the wait may be long, but be prepared with faith that once the Bridegroom—Jesus—comes, He will lead you to the wedding banquet hall.
The three men in the story of the talents are each given talents with which to make more. That’s their job, and the Master knows what to expect from each one, based on their abilities. The one receiving only one talent buries it in the ground, risking nothing so he won’t lose any value. The other two immediately go out and invest, making twice what they were given. Had they failed, they would have had to report that, but their efforts would have been commendable. They acted in faith that they would produce more. Upon the Master’s return, the two productive stewards were given that commendation and praise. The foolish one was criticized as wicked and slothful. Out the door he went into darkness, and would weep and gnash his teeth for eternity. The Lesson: Actively use what talent (ability) you have; knowing your Master, Jesus, will commend you.
The third, and most perplexing, is the story of the separation at the time of judgment. Sheep on the right and goats on the left—a very strong image in Palestine, as sheep and goats would need to be separated when put into pens. The goats will do their ‘goat things’ and butt heads, and not allow the sheep to be sheep and sleep at night. The righteous and the wicked will be separated on the Day of Judgment, for the wicked will have done their ‘wicked things’ among the righteous and not allow any peace for the righteous. But on the Last Day, the wicked will hear “Depart” while the righteous will hear “Come.” Lesson: It’s that mysterious sentence which Jesus tells the righteous, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” So how do we give drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and visit those who are sick and in prison? Answer: Through individual acts of mercy and by the collective efforts of the Church on earth.
November is the month in which we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving; but, it is more than just one day in which we are thankful. We’re thankful daily—or at least we should be! We should be thankful even for Judgment Day! The sheep and lambs of the Good Shepherd know what the Judge will say to them in advance! But do we behave like sheep of the Good Shepherd? Or are we more like goats of Satan? The warnings are there in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Are we ready for Judgment Day, even as it seems like it is not coming? With all the worldly and human disasters happening today, we would be wise to keep our lamps burning, use our talents, and bow in repentance and trust in Jesus to forgive us, transform us, and preserve us, and thereby prepares us for Judgment Day!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, the Master, and the Judge of His Church on earth.
Pastor Ron Brauer