A note to the reader:
These are my sermon notes, they are not entirely polished, i occasionally miss bits out and add other bits as I feel lead during a service. However, no one sermon can fully express the gospel. I hope they are helpful.
Today is our harvest service and I think we are doing three things today:
1. Reminding ourselves that God is Lord of the Harvest
2. Responding to his word (which includes our offering)
3. Celebrating his harvest (INVITATION)
There is a disconnect for us living in 2012 in Bawtry. 100 years ago many of the congregation here would have been involved with growing food and all would have been reliant on the harvest. A good harvest and there would be much rejoicing:
Tearfund and organisations like them remind us that in other places harvests make a massive difference. It is life and death to them.
SO what question is Jesus answering in Matt 25. 31-46?
Let's look back at the question the disciples asked Jesus.
Matt 24. 1-3
“…When will this happen, and what will be the sign of the end of the age?”
*Day & hour unknown *Prepare *Talents
It seems that on that great and glorious day it will not all be rejoicing…people will be held account for what they did with what God gave them…
This isn’t popular. Maybe you think this morning how could God judge anyone?
You may think that if God is good then all people will be welcomed in?
Or maybe you think why would God want anything to do with me after things I have said and done?
Two Visual Aids:
I stand here today as a person who messes up who makes big mistakes or mis-steaks as it says on the eraser. So I don't stand as one who is perfect, but somebody who knows how much I am in need of Jesus Christ to be my Lord.
Pull the large throne like chair to the front of church, ask people who they think sits in judgement on them.
But let’s take sometime this morning to consider what Jesus says on this matter. This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus because we don’t like to think that anyone judges us but I would argue that judgement is something which goes on everyday in our lives.
Who is it who sits on the throne in judgement on you and me?
Let’s look at who he isn’t first:
If your house-hold is anything like mine, then the television is switched on on a Saturday night and you hear the familiar refrain “Strictly Come Dancing” or maybe “X Factor” you have four judges in strictly and four in X Factor. In X Factor the bias is obvious, their act comes on and the judge says “that was amazing, that was the performance of the show” and the next act comes on, maybe they are better, but the judge says “it was a good performance but you just lack the X Factor”.
Even Strictly the bastion of the BBC has bias. There are four judges and each seem to have four different criteria. One gives an 8 and another a 4. How can it be so different?
Judges who are biased who pursue their own ends.
If I asked you what is the greatest threat to our world today I am not sure what you would say. But it is not global terrorism, global warming, the next pandemic, even the economic crisis, it is our selfishness. And the Bible has a word for it, it is sin. Sin has “I” in the centre of it. That is what it is when we put ourselves on this throne.
But as I stand here this morning I am well aware of my own sin. The choices I make the way I live my life “I know to do good and yet do not do it…there is no health in me”
You see the X- Factor and Strictly judges are biased and so am I, I think that I am doing better than the next person (give an example)
We are reminded this morning that he is Lord of the harvest but he is also Lord of all. This passage helps us to understand this.
Who is the Judge?
Jesus uses the words Son of Man glorified. He became one of us, was tempted in everyway but was without sin. He lived the life, he stands as judge having first lived this life out in all its fullness.
3 days later he was crucified, they mocked him and hung a sign around his next which said "Jesus Christ, King of the Jews" but he knew who he was.
The judge is not somebody who dosen’t know us, the passage shows he does. The sheep are on the right and the goats on the left, they have not been mixed up, he hasn't made any mistakes. There are no stray sheep on the left, or rogue goats on the right. He knows us, he knows exactly what we are like.
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;”
This is what God had always intended, before the world was created his invitation is come to him…
Isn’t it obvious the sheep see the needs in front of them, they don’t think what is the angle this person has in trying to get money out of me. How much of this money actually gets to the person in need, they purely responds to the needs they see. God sees the heart.
When did we see you…
I have worked in some big companies and the day arrives when the chief executive is due to visit. Maybe you are a teacher and you remember the Ofsted visit. The office is cleaned the rubbish is shoved in cupboards. Someone goes to Marks and Spencers and buys some nice cups and some posh biscuits. There are always biscuits when the boss comes. Shoes are shined, name badges are positioned to cover the coffee stains on the tie. Office politics are laid aside to be picked up again when the boss has gone and the image of a well-oiled machine all working in harmony is portrayed.
But God is not mocked he sees that…
When did we see you…
Those on the left say But if we had known it was you Jesus, we would have brought you into our home, we would have given you a shower, put fresh clothes on you, made you a meal got the biscuits out. If we had just known it was you. But the king is not mocked he knows the heart.
He doesn’t like white washed tombs, instead he saw their actions. If we are truly Christians we will love one another, we will forgive one another we will show mercy .
A vision of community
One of the reasons we find judgement so difficult is because it reveals our dependence we are used to being in charge of ourselves, we value independence. But this passage reveals again that we are not actually Lord of our own lives. We all serve something. The church is meant to be a community which loves one another. As forgiven people.
It is meant to be a community that is actually serving Christ and from this we go out to the world.
Something that was spoken nearly 2,000 years ago still resonates with a lot of the church across the world who are poor and imprisoned but the King is also one who has suffered himself. He is not someone who has always sat in his ivory tower and looked down without care and compassion and love in the world but it is king who when we look in Matthew 26 and 27 we see he was hungry, and he was thirsty, he was a stranger even to his friends, he was naked and he was beaten. So he knows what suffering is about he is a king who's gone through it.
He is also the King who is first judged for us.
So as we celebrate this harvest today, we also realise that we are people who mess up, who want to be Lord of our own lives, but the Lord of the harvest is the glorified Son of Man…