Sermon title:  CHRIST ON HIS JUDGMENT THRONE

 

Matthew 25:31-46

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, January 12, 2020

 

 

 

A few weeks ago    when we looked at

the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins,

we saw how Jesus illustrated

that those who are prepared

will gain entrance to heaven

while others will find the door shut in their faces.

 

Then in the Parable of the Talents

we saw how Christ will say to some,

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

while others are thrown outside,

into the darkness,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

Those were the lessons

of the two parables, or illustrative stories.

 

But now, as we come to Matthew 25:31,

Jesus switches from giving parables

to telling us what will actually happen

when he returns.

 

And it’s another tough message.

 

Does Jesus really talk like that?

 

Folks who don’t read the Bible

may think the New Testament is full of “Jesus loves me,”

“Jesus loves me,” “Jesus loves me”—

—and nothing else.

 

But Jesus had plenty of strong things to say.

 

And he said them BECAUSE he loves us.

 

Our God is not like one of these modern parents

who tells the teacher at school,

“Give my little Johnnie straight ‘A’s

so he’ll feel good about himself.”

 

And then, later on,

little Johnnie eventually has to go into the work force.

 

And he finds out the hard way,   that his boss isn’t his mother.

Jesus teaches us to face reality.

 

And telling people they’re wonderful

when they’re actually sinners facing eternal punishment—

that wouldn’t be the loving thing to do.

 

Instead, he warns us about what lies ahead.

 

And so, Jesus shows that he loves us

by telling us to shape up and fly right.

 

He loves us by telling us to repent of our sins

and turn to him for salvation.

 

He loves us by telling us to do that

before we find ourselves shut out of heaven

and thrown outside,

into the darkness,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

So, this next portion of Scripture starting at Matthew 25:31

is very much like

the previous parables, or illustrative stories.

 

Some commentators call it “the Parable of the Sheep and Goats.”

But it isn’t really a parable.

 

It’s more like straight talk from the Lord.

 

It’s about the judgment that lies ahead

when people meet their Maker.

 

And the judgment this whole world of mankind will face

when Christ returns.

 

Jesus begins by saying this, at Matthew 25:31—

 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory,

and all the angels with him,

then he will sit on his glorious throne.

 

This is reminiscent of a courtroom today.

 

The judge enters the courtroom,

and the bailiff announces, “All rise!”

 

And then the judge sits down behind the bench

in the judgment seat.

 

Only here, Christwill sit on his glorious throne.”

 

It will be much more impressive than any court of law

we’ve ever seen

in real life or on TV.

 

The risen Christ “comes in his glory,

and all the angels with him.”

 

“All the angels”—what does that mean?

 

30 or 40 angels?  A couple hundred angels?

 

The prophet Daniel saw a similar scene in vision,

and he describes it in Daniel Chapter 7,

beginning with Verse 9.

 

He says,

 

9 “As I looked,

thrones were set in place,

and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

 

His clothing was as white as snow;

the hair of his head was white like wool.

 

His throne was flaming with fire,

and its wheels were all ablaze.

 

10 A river of fire was flowing,

coming out from before him.

 

Thousands upon thousands attended him;

ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

 

The court was seated,

and the books were opened.

 

So, in that vision of God’s heavenly court

the prophet Daniel saw ‘ten thousand times ten thousand

angels standing before the Lord.

 

If we do our math, that comes out to 100 million.

 

Centuries later the Apostle John

saw similar numbers of angels

around the throne of God at Revelation 5:7.

He wrote,

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels,

numbering thousands upon thousands,

and ten thousand times ten thousand.

They encircled the throne...

 

So, that’s the impressive scene

that Jesus was setting, at Matthew 25:31.

 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory,

and all the angels with him,

then he will sit on his glorious throne.

 

And, why is this assembly taking place?

 

For what purpose has Jesus sat down upon his throne

and gathered all the angels together?

 

Even before we read what he says next,

we find a clue in the words he spoke earlier to his Apostles

at Matthew 19:28, where he said,

 

"Truly I say to you,

that you who have followed Me,

in the regeneration when the Son of Man

will sit on His glorious throne,

you also shall sit upon twelve thrones,

judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

So, Christ sits “on his glorious throne” to judge.

 

It’s a judgment throne.

 

The same thought is reinforced at 2 Corinthians 5:10

where the Apostle Paul tells us,

 

... we must all appear

before the judgment seat of Christ,

so that each one may receive

what is due for what he has done in the body,

whether good or evil.

 

That glorious throne is “the judgment seat of Christ

and Paul says that “we must all appear

before that judgment seat

to be judged according to what we’ve done.

 

On a different occasion, at Acts 17:30

when Paul addressed the men of Athens on the Areopagus,

he told them the same thing.

He said,

 

" God is now declaring to men

that all people everywhere should repent,

because He has fixed a day

in which He will judge the world in righteousness

through a Man whom He has appointed,

having furnished proof to all men

by raising Him from the dead."

 

God now calls people everywhere to repent—

to renounce their sins,

and quit practicing their sins—

because Christ is coming

to “judge the world in righteousness.

And that’s the scene that Jesus goes on to describe here

at Matthew 25:32

when he says what will happen

when he “comes in his glory,

and all the angels with him”

and Jesus sits “on his glorious throne.”

 

He says,

32 Before him will be gathered all the nations,

and he will separate people

one from another

as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

 

33 And he will place the sheep on his right,

but the goats on the left.

 

34 Then the King will say

to those on his right,

 

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father,

inherit the kingdom

prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food,

I was thirsty and you gave me drink,

I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

36 I was naked and you clothed me,

I was sick and you visited me,

I was in prison and you came to me.’

 

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,

or thirsty and give you drink?

 

38 And when did we see you a stranger

and welcome you,

or naked and clothe you?

 

39 And when did we see you sick or in prison

and visit you?’

 

40 And the King will answer them,

 

‘Truly, I say to you,

as you did it to one of the least

of these my brothers,

you did it to me.’

 

Who are Jesus’ “brothers”?

 

Well, he had 4 brothers in the usual sense,

because, after his virgin birth,

Mary and Joseph went on to have other children.

 

Matthew and Mark’s Gospels list his brothers as

James, Joseph, Simon and Jude.

 

But they aren’t the ones he’s referring to here,

when he tells people from all over the world,

as you did it to one of the least

of these my brothers,

you did it to me.”

 

Those billions of people

would never have had occasion or opportunity

to feed, clothe or visit those 4 younger brothers of Christ.

 

In fact, Matthew 12:49 tells us

about an incident early during Jesus’ ministry

when his mother and brothers

were waiting outside to see him,

and when Jesus pointed “to his disciples

and said,

"Here are my mother and my brothers.”

 

So, our Lord viewed his disciples as his “brothers.”

 

And that’s true today, too.

 

Hebrews 2:11 tells us,

 

For he who sanctifies

and those who are sanctified

all have one source.

That is why he is not ashamed

to call them brothers.

 

Of course, “he who sanctifies” is Christ,

and “those who are sanctified” are Christian believers.

 

And Hebrews 2:11 says he calls them “brothers.”

 

So here, when Christ is sitting on his glorious throne

and judging the whole world,

he refers to Christian believers as his “brothers”

and says,

as you did it to one of the least

of these my brothers,

you did it to me.”

 

Those who fed, clothed or visited Christians

who were hungry, naked, sick or in prison

did those acts of kindness to Jesus himself.

 

But that isn’t the end of the story.

 

He continues at Matthew 25:41,

 

41 “Then he will say to those on his left,

 

‘Depart from me, you cursed,

into the eternal fire

prepared for the devil and his angels.

 

Now some people mistakenly believe

that “the devil and his angels”

are in charge in this “eternal fire.”

 

We see cartoon drawings

of the devil and his demonic angels

poking people with pitchforks—

as if the devil and his underlings

are running the show.

 

But that view comes from artists’ imaginations,

and not from the Bible.

 

And it’s the opposite of the truth.

 

That “eternal fire” was

prepared for the devil and his angels”

to punish them.

 

2 Peter 2:4 says about “the angels that sinned”

that God

... had them tied up

and thrown into the dark pits of hell

until the time of judgment.”

 

And then, later, Revelation 20:10 says

that the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire.”

 

So, the devil and his demons are punished in hell—

not ruling over it.

 

That helps us understand what it means

when Christ on his judgment throne

 

will say to those on his left,

 

‘Depart from me, you cursed,

into the eternal fire

prepared for the devil and his angels.

 

42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,

naked and you did not clothe me,

sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

 

44 Then they also will answer, saying,

 

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty

or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison,

and did not minister to you?’

45 Then he will answer them, saying,

 

‘Truly, I say to you,

as you did not do it to one of the least of these,

you did not do it to me.’

 

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment,

but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

So, what do we learn from this?

 

Our Lord gave some tough messages.

 

And he kept repeating them.

 

Jesus began Matthew Chapter 24 with

the sign of his Return and the end of this world.

 

Then he concluded Chapter 24 with an illustrative story

about a faithful servant

who did the work his master required

and kept watch for his master’s return,

and who received rewards as a result.

 

And Christ contrasted him with an unfaithful servant

who spent his time drinking

and failed to watch for the master’s return.

 

And Matthew 24 ends with Jesus saying

that unfaithful servant will be “cut” to pieces

and assigned a place with the hypocrites,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

Then he starts Matthew Chapter 25

with the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins,

where those who prepare ahead

gain entrance to heaven

while those who do nothing

find the door shut in their faces.

 

Christ followed that with the Parable of the Talents

where those who put his resources to work

hear the master say,

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

while the servant who does nothing is thrown outside,

into the darkness,

where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

Those were the lessons

of the parables, or illustrative stories.

 

And then at Matthew 25:31,

Jesus switches from giving parables

to telling us what will actually happen

when he returns.

 

And, again, he concludes by saying,

 

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment,

but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

I think the Lord is trying to tell us something—

something important—

something very important.

 

And that’s why he keeps repeating the same message

using different illustrations

and different words,

but each time saying the same thing.

 

It’s a matter of life or death

for all mankind.

 

And, not just life and death in this world,

but eternal life or death.

 

Jesus was already dividing people

like a shepherd divides sheep and goats

when he spoke to crowds in Jerusalem in John Chapter 10.

 

At John 10:25, we read,

 

25 Jesus answered them,

“I told you, and you do not believe.

 

The works that I do in my Father’s name

bear witness about me,

26 but you do not believe

because you are not among my sheep.

 

27 My sheep hear my voice,

and I know them, and they follow me.

 

28 I give them eternal life,

and they will never perish,

and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

 

If we haven’t yet repented of our sins

and haven’t yet turned to Christ for salvation,

now is the time to do it.

 

We want to be found among the believing, obedient sheep,

not among the unbelieving, disobedient goats.

 

And if we haven’t sensed the urgency

of sharing the Gospel of salvation

with those we have contact with,

now is the time to listen to Jesus’ voice

and to go about with a sense of urgency

the work he has assigned us to do

for his Kingdom.

 

We may be young and healthy

and think the time is a long way off

when we have to meet our Maker,

but we could be hit by a truck

on our way home from church.

 

Are we ready to meet our Maker,

if he comes for us at a time that we don’t expect?

 

And the sign Jesus gave

of his imminent return

could wrap up suddenly,

as world events and events in the Middle East

take a sharp turn

and climax in God’s intervention.

 

Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Christ’s return,

but no individual has had to wait

longer than a lifetime.

 

And the world events that the Bible foretells

for the time of the end of this world

are rushing headlong toward a conclusion.

 

Either way, whether we personally

are called to meet our Maker,

or whether the whole world

get’s called before Christ’s judgment throne,

to be separated like sheep from goats—

either way, Jesus wants us to be ready.

 

Now is the time, as 1 John 5:13 says, to

 

believe in the name of the Son of God,

that you may know that you have eternal life.”

 

And now is the time to invite others.