Where is the King?

sheep goatChrist the King: Where is the King?
November 23-24, 2013
Matthew 25:31-46

There are some, shall we say, “interesting” kings in the Bible.
There are some really good kings: King David, King Hezekiah, and King Josiah come to mind.
And there are some really lousy kings: King Manasseh, King Jeroboam, and King Ahab come to mind.

What distinguished a ‘good’ king from a ‘bad’ king in biblical times
was how well they followed the “Divine King” who of course was God.

I need to give props to our own Marty Stevens for her most recent book
in helping us to understand the duties of kings in biblical times.

The role of earthly kings in the Bible was to be in service to the Divine King,
and allow God to work through them,
bringing blessings to the nation such as peace, prosperity, and justice.

Kings got into trouble when
they went their own way and followed their own gods.

Kings got into trouble when
they sought to build wealth for themselves at the expense of the people.

And they got into trouble when
they failed to allow all of creation to flourish to its fullest potential.

Alas, throughout the Old Testament,
this vision of Divine kingship was always hoped for,
but never fully realized.

Nevertheless, the people held deeply the hope
that one day – one day — there would be a king who was truly after God’s own heart.

This king would reign with justice for all;
this king would bring a time of peace;
this king would demonstrate God’s abundance and generosity.

The book of Daniel describes this king as one who one will come like the Son of Man
and be given glory and dominion forever. (Daniel 7:13-14)

Justice forever;
Peace forever;
God’s abundance and generosity forever.

Moving onto the gospel reading for today from Matthew chapter 25….
Jesus’ followers are still waiting for that promised king.

Using language very similar to Daniel, Jesus reminds them that the Son of Man –
this king – will come in glory.
The nations will be called to the throne
and their actions will be called into account.

The criterion for judgment will be whether or not
they’ve cared for the least and the lost;
the lonely and the little;
the last and the left-out.

And the nations will be surprised to learn
that this is not the first time they’ve met the king;
they have met the king before – many times in fact.

“But wait a minute!” the nations will say.
“Where were you?
We didn’t see you!”

And the king will answer,
“You were looking for me in the wrong place;
you weren’t looking for me among the least and the lost;
you weren’t looking for me among the lonely and the little;
you weren’t looking for me among the last and the left-out”

That prisoner who has been forgotten in his cell
– he is the king.

That refugee who is waiting for shipment of a toothbrush
– he is the king.

That woman from Pennsylvania who had her food stamps cut this month
– she is the king.

That gay man in Gettysburg who was told this week he did not deserve civil rights
– he is the king

That soldier home from Iraq who struggles with daily anxiety and nightly terrors
– he is the king

That woman in the wheelchair who heard it was too expensive to build a ramp
– she is the king

That toddler who is noisy in church
– she is the king.

That man who was stopped and frisked for being black
– he is the king

That child with Downs whose parents were advised to abort
– he is the king

That old man who is sleeping in his car in our parking lot
– he is the king

That young man who didn’t finish school
– he is the king

That woman whose son is in jail
– she is the king

That immigrant who works at the Giant whose English is poor
– she is the king

That woman whose pension has never been raised
– she is the king too.

So you think you’ve never met a king in person…?
So you think you’ve never been in touch with royalty?
Jesus says, ‘You’re so wrong.
You’ve met royalty.”

You’ve met royalty
when you’ve met the prisoner, the refugee,
the hungry, the persecuted, the disabled, the homeless, the immigrant.

You’ve met royalty
when you’ve met the lost and the least.

You’ve met royalty,
because you’ve met me.

(Pause)

This might be a good place to say, “Amen”…but we’re not done yet.
There’s another aspect to this Scripture too.
We just can’t forget the part about the sheep and the goats!

I’m guessing when we hear this passage, most of us are hoping
we’re on the right hand and not on the left;
that we’re sheep and not goats…

We remember the times we’ve given to the poor and visited the sick,
and we welcomed that stranger at church last week.
We’re sheep, right?
There are points for trying at least aren’t there?

But then again, I’m guessing when we hear this passage, most of us are also
realizing that much of the time we’ve been more goat-like than sheep-like.

We remember the times we’ve been just too tired to stop and visit.
We’ve pretended not to see the guy at the side of the road.
We made some sort of justification for shaking our heads at the panhandler.

Yes, we’ve been sheep – many times,
But also, yes, we’ve been goats too.
So at judgment time, have we been sheep-like enough?
Or has our goat-nature overall outweighed our sheepiness?

Hear this now…
How can I put this gently?
You (and I) are goats…but wait!
You (and I) are sheep too.
We are both sinner and saint.

If it were up to our actions alone, we would be lost.
But through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
we goats have been made into sheep;
(as my friend Pr. Sharron Blezard has said, we have been made sheep in goats’ clothing!) ;
we who by ourselves would have been condemned, have been given new life.

So then what’s the point of serving the needs of the least and the lost;
the lonely and the little;
the last and the left-out?

Why bother getting to know the prisoner, the refugee,
the hungry, the persecuted, the disabled, the homeless, the immigrant?

Well, because when we get to know them,
we get to know the king we have been waiting for.
We get to know Jesus!

Now (finally) we can say, “Amen!”
Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s