Christ the King Sunday 2020: The Surprising Message of the Sheep and the Goats

Christ the King Sunday 2020

The Surprising Message of the Sheep and the Goats

There is an unpremeditated, inherent, intuitive character about faith. Faith is like a spontaneous reflex, which responds in certain ways to certain stimuli. It is the nature of faith to see things from particular perspectives, to act in specific ways. And someone without faith does likewise, responding to life instinctively from that lack of faith.

The sun shines. Apple trees produce apples. Everything in creation acts according to its nature, and there is this same organic, naturally expressive character with faith or lack of faith. Last week we learned the verse, “The only thing that matters is faith working through love,” from Galatians 5:6. Paul is not saying there, OK, you have faith, now you have to add love to it. No, he is saying is if you have faith it will naturally and normally work itself out in acts of genuine love toward others. Faith works through love. That is the very nature of faith. That is what faith is made of. That’s what faith is, that’s what faith does. As Martin Luther put it: Faith “is a living, creative, active and powerful thing. …Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. …it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!”

30 thoughts on “Christ the King Sunday 2020: The Surprising Message of the Sheep and the Goats

  1. Especially when it comes to the Sheep and Goats–I totally identify with what RobertF said. The “christian” religion has by and large steadily beat a lambeg drum of condemnation–and that parable easily falls into the rhythm of that ancient marching tattoo.

    It gets so ingrained that I’d rather cut it out of the text than try to deal with it.


  2. God forgave those who nailed him to a tree and killed him, *even as they were doing it to him*, and let them do it so he could save the very people who were killing him from dying themselves. I know you tend to have a fairly negative view of yourself, which is a shame, and entirely unnecessary, but nevertheless think on this: Jesus forgave even his own executioners, and, whatever you think of yourself, is there anything you have done, or could conceivably ever do, which could possibly even approach what they did, and that God will not forgive you for?


  3. My experience of myself is that I’m not a unified being, with a single heart, but divided among many desires and fears, with more than one heart. I guess it is possible that the division of the sheep and goats is a threshing of the multiple strands, good and bad, that form the composite that is me in the present age, so that I”m made ready for the age to come.


  4. Thank you, Brianthegrandad. Blessings to you and yours, as well, and have as happy a Thanksgiving and Holiday season as it is possible to have in these times. Be well.


  5. 2 Cor 5:10-21. Ignore the title break. I’m told it’s not in the Greek text and this is all one thought in the context. Paul starts off with the scene of us all standing in front of the judgment seat of Christ, to receive according to our good or bad. Then he launches into their ministry of the good news, of proclaiming the reconciliation of God and Man. He says in v15 that Christ died for all. For all. Then proclaims that those Christ died for are new creations. new altogether. He is an ambassador of the reigning king, proclaiming this good news. And here’s the kicker that ties back to the judgment seat: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that his righteousness becomes ours in front of that throne. We are new and redeemed. By his word and promise.

    Robert F. You are the most transparent person on this site. I will miss your insightful, thoughtful comments when the page goes dormant. Brother, rest in this passage: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. His righteousness will stand for us that day. Blessings to you Robert.


  6. An Orthodox priest told me that the sheep and goats are different manifestations and proclivities in our own hearts, and at the end of Days, our Lord will separate them and allow only our most generous impulses to remain. If this is so, then this is the most optimistic of parables, and Good News indeed.


  7. I appreciate your wanting to help, and I apologize that my response to your suggestion did not sound appreciative.


  8. Faith can move mountains
    It is a small thing that instinctively the Lord uses
    In our lives to help us connect to those in need.
    God knows what we think, what we fee, and what
    Ultimately what we do in our lives
    His love is demonstrated in each person who puts their
    Faith in Him and asks to be used in this world
    Thanks Mike for the message


  9. There’s an apocryphal story about one of the early proto-Reformers, who spent some time in Italy learning Greek and translating the Greek New Testament into his native tongue. Upon showing his work to a colleague, the colleague is supposed to have remarked, “Either these (new translations) are not the Gospels, or we are not Christians.”


  10. I guess we are all different in how we see things, and that’s ‘okay’, but I wished I could offer some help.


  11. how is it that some Christian people have such difficulty comprehending the parables along the lines of grace and mercy?

    The Great White Throne scene from all those Jack Chick tracts.

    All that matters is to pass that Cosmic Litmus Test, and You’re NOT one of God’s Special Pets. (Whose FAITH has never wavered, who have never doubted, who God sends angels to carry around 24/7/365 so they never ever dash their foot against a stone. While you and me struggle every day.)

    Add the God of the Rapture Ready, where God So Hates SIN (“with such a Perfect Hatred”) that he WILL send His Only Begotten Son to Destroy The World. (“No more water, The Fire Next Time!”)

    Put those together or keep them separate, and you get Robert’s reaction.
    I know because I came from the same territory.


  12. Best wishes to you, Susan. I hope your pain can be relieved without further complications. Love to you, also.


  13. “Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. …it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!” — Martin Luther

    If Luther was correct, it seems to me that very few Christians–particularly those of an Evangelical stripe–have much of it. Too many Christians are absolutely opposed to “good works.”


  14. Robert, go look at a crucifix for a while – this is what helps me to ‘see’ His heart that was pierced for our sake


  15. how is it that some Christian people have such difficulty comprehending the parables along the lines of grace and mercy? I ask because the parables are so FILLED with compassion for our fallen state when we are in humility before God and show self-giving kindness towards others rather than harshness;

    seems to me the more self-righteous we get, the less able we are to see woundedness as Our Lord sees it, with compassion

    and self-giving? well, these are they days when public mandates for ‘wearing a mask’ to possibly protect a stranger is TOO MUCH of a requirement for self-giving and has become a THREAT to our ‘freedom’

    some ‘freedom’, this that says it’s not our place to protect the ones we do not recognize as needing our care, but people seem blind to this need and helpless folks are left at risk and all is sadly celebrated as ‘freedom from tyranny’ (?)

    Advent can’t come fast enough. Maybe then, something will be awakened again of ‘why’ we protect the helpless and the stranger.


  16. I am keeping you in my prayers, Susan, until we hear you are out of surgery and free of pain. Am lighting a candle also. Soon Advent, then Christmas . . . the year goes by and we are all of us in God’s Hands. God keep you safe, dear friend. Sending hug.


  17. Robert, once again you subvert the very good news I find in this parable through your relentless self-condemnation. As Robert Capon says, this parable is the ultimate example of how the gospel is comedy and not tragedy. It is consistent with a theme that has pervaded the entire Gospel of Matthew: those who think they’re in aren’t, and those who think themselves on the outside are in. It started with the story of pagan astrologers who seek Christ rather than his own countrymen. Matthew himself, the tax-collector, is a surprise winner. Jesus sees something in folks like us that we could never see in ourselves.

    As Capon says:

    What counts, therefore, is not what we know (most of that can only count against us) but what he knows. And what he knows is that “God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by him.”

    Despite the church’s use of this parable over the years to scare the be-jeezus out of people, I think it should be read just the opposite way.

    And, BTW, I don’t think this parable is about “hell-fire” as the church has traditionally presented it. All these parables are hyperbolic, in almost every detail. I don’t think anyone’s “toast” here.


  18. If we don’t understand the heart of The Everlasting One, what do we understand? The Gospels seem to say that Jesus fully reveals the Father, but in important ways, it seems to me the Jesus doesn’t even fully reveal himself, that is, his heart.


  19. As to the sheep and goats, it hinges on who is the least of these. There are just as many surprising answers given by us humans in our everyday living as the surprise in hearing the words spoken by our Lord.. At this point, in considering being grateful as we did yesterday, still after all these many years here, anyone close would have to admit I’m more like burnt out than not. I don’t know about the weight of our good vs. our bad, but that tally doesn’t compute when considering a book of life. One thing….we all have proved over and over we don’t understand the heart of The Everlasting One.


  20. I do not like this text. I’m certain I’m not one of the good sheep who does all the required things. I do good, I do bad, and there’s no way to quantify the proportion of each over the decades of my life that will result in the good outweighing the bad. If this text is the final word, and if it means what it seems to mean, I’m toast. It’s as simple as that.


  21. ‘Christ whose glory fills the sky,
    Christ the true and only light…’

    Thank you Chaplain Mike for today’s message..
    Not that we needed reminding but you just give us a prod occasionally and encourage us to be more aware of the Christian Year and the message of each feast day of holy days .

    This will be so missed when this blog closes in just a few short weeks.

    Some of us will be floundering around looking for a solid place to which to cling, where we like sea creatures can attach ourselves.
    Like corals or molluscs, opening into the coming tide and then as it recedes and we are left holding the flotsam.
    How do we choose?

    The Covid19 pandemic has made us isolated from our Churches and associated worshipers.
    I live in faith through my computer in various sites. It is somewhat disconnected.

    Tomorrow I am seeing a Surgeon to whom I have been referred.
    He will book me in for an exploratory examination under anaesthetic.
    Followed by surgery at a soon date. I have no problems with the surgery. I need the release of pain.

    I must say I am apprehensive but I know the pain I have had recently and over the past two or more years must be addressed.

    Today is the Festival of Christ the King. A day I have always celebrated.’Christ whose Gory Fills the Skies’.

    Next Sunday is Advent Sunday and this year is also my 76th Birthday. I so hoping for a good New Church Year.

    I do ask for your prayers today and during this week. It is an unknown chart which I have to navigate.

    Love to my dear IMonkers.


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