Jesus in Disguise

, ,

Serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus.

Matthew(12) (Part of the Liturgical Calendar(9) series)
by Stuart Johns(72) on November 26, 2017 (Sunday Morning(93))

Community(4), Judgement(7), Service(5)

Last Sunday after Pentecost: ​​ Christ the King

Jesus in Disguise

(Matthew 25:31-46)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The surprise was complete. ​​ The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 A.M., the second at 8:55. ​​ By 9:55 it was all over. ​​ By 1:00 P.M. the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.

 

Behind them they left chaos, 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes, and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included eight damaged or destroyed battleships.

 

At 6 A.M. (Hawaiian time) on December 7, 1941, the first Japanese attack fleet of 183 planes took off from aircraft carriers 230 miles north of Oahu. ​​ Ironically, at 7:02 A.M., two Army operators at a radar station on Oahu’s north shore picked up approaching Japanese fighters on radar. ​​ They contacted a junior officer who disregarded their sighting, thinking that it was B-17 bombers from the United States west coast. ​​ The first Japanese bomb was dropped at 7:55 a.m. on Wheeler Field, eight miles from Pearl Harbor. ​​ No one was prepared for what was occurring. ​​ The rest is history.

 

At Pearl Harbor, the consequences for not being ready for an enemy attack was devastating. ​​ There were signs that went unheeded. ​​ Had the U.S. military been ready to spring into action, the losses at Pearl Harbor might have been greatly reduced.

 

The element of watchful waiting applies to the return of Christ. ​​ For the believer, being ready for Christ’s return involves more than not being caught by surprise. ​​ It also involves living a life in faithful obedience to God, investing our resources in the kingdom of God. ​​ Jesus will someday return. ​​ Those who are found faithful and living in obedience to God will be rewarded. ​​ Are you among the ready?”

 

[Stuart K. Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary, 427-28].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Mission Trips

        • Spokane, WA – an important part of what we did was to take care of Wayne and Denise Miller and their family

        • Mississippi – we are planning a trip to Carthage, MS next summer to help at Abigail Farmer’s church (she is one of our missionaries) – part of the time will again be spent taking care of Abby and ministering to her

    • Serving others

        • Dwane

          • A friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor

          • He was a follower of Jesus Christ

          • I took him once to his experimental treatment and waited with him

          • He had helped me out before when I woke up with something in my eye in the middle of the night

        • Serving homeless in Spokane, WA

          • They were so appreciative of the food and clothing items we brought through the two organizations we served with

          • It was a joy to minister to each person

 

  • WE

    • Youth

        • Week of service this past summer (they took care of other ministries)

          • Tender Care Pregnancy Center

          • Upper Adams Food Pantry

          • Project Share

          • Laurin and Bev Fleming’s home

        • In the past

          • New Hope Ministries in Hanover

          • Adams Rescue Mission

          • Helped with other individuals within the church

    • Adults

        • Gettysburg Soup Kitchen

        • Upper Adams Food Pantry

        • In-Gathering (happened last week)

        • Individuals in our church have used their talents to help others in the church

          • Car maintenance and repair

          • Yard work and mowing

          • Cleaning

          • Financial support

          • Rides to church, doctor appointments, the pharmacy, and the grocery store

          • These are just a few of the ways that we have helped others, but there are countless other ways as well

    • Take a moment to think about how you have taken care of others

 

Jesus has been teaching on the Mount of Olives. ​​ He has been talking about the future and gives a couple parables to help His disciples understand they need to be ready and obediently working at multiplying the Gospel. ​​ He concludes His Olivet Discourse by teaching about the final judgment. ​​ Through His teaching Jesus wants His disciples and us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Matthew 25:31-46)

    • Jesus will return (vv. 31-33)

        • PROMISE/TRUTH – God will send Jesus to earth a second time

          • When God gives us a promise or truth in His Word, we can claim that promise and believe that truth, wholeheartedly

          • We can put our hope in the fact that Jesus is coming again

          • It will be in power, which is represented by all the angels coming with Him

          • He will also come in authority as He sits on His throne in heavenly glory

          • He will come with God’s glory and authority to judge

        • Nations and people

          • In the Greek the word used for “nations” is talking about all people or the Gentiles and the Jews

          • The Great Commission includes every nationality and people group in the entire world

          • While every nation will be represented, the Greek word used for “the people” is in the masculine gender and “implies that individuals and not just nations or people groups are intended.” ​​ [Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Matthew, 376]

          • This concept agrees with all of Scripture – we are individually responsible for our salvation and how it is evidenced through our actions

        • Separating individuals

          • Jesus uses imagery that would have been familiar to those He was teaching

          • The practice of keeping sheep and goats together in the pasture is still used in the Middle East today

          • Our image of sheep and goats is different than in the Middle East and probably from what was normal in the 1st Century

            • Our image of sheep are those with pure white wool coats

            • Goats can have different colored spots and patches on their coats

            • The sheep being referenced here probably had spots and patches of different colors that made them harder to distinguish from the goats

            • Genesis 30:31-32, “What shall I give you?” he asked. ​​ “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. ​​ “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: ​​ Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. ​​ They will be my wages.”

          • While sheep and goats grazed together in the fields, when it was time to separate them, they would be sent down a chute that required them to go one at time in a single line

            • A shepherd would sit on top of the fence and swing a gate back and forth to guide each animal into the appropriate pen [Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary, Matthew, 424]

            • If the sheep and goats were both spotted, it would take a trained eye to quickly separate them

          • Jesus has that trained eye

            • We do not know the heart of man, but God does

            • We may think from outward actions or superficial knowledge that we know who are God’s people and who are not

            • Praise the Lord, He knows!

          • Right and left

            • Jesus will separate each individual from all nations

            • He will put the sheep, who represent those who are righteous, on His right side – this is the place of honor

            • He will put the goats, who represent those who are cursed, on His left side – in this context, it was a place of disgrace

        • Now that the righteous and the cursed have been separated, Jesus explains what will happen to each group

    • Blessed (vv. 34-40)

        • Reward (v. 34)

          • Jesus refers to Himself as the King in this parable

          • He will beckon those on His right – the righteous ones – to come and take their inheritance

          • These individuals are blessed by God the Father

            • This blessing is not the same as in the Beatitudes, where the Greek word means “happy”

            • It rather means someone who enjoys God’s good favor [France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 962]

            • It also has the idea that these individuals have received God’s spiritual and material blessing and favor already and that they will continue to receive it [Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary, Matthew, 424]

          • Their reward is the inheritance of the Kingdom of God

            • This was prepared for them since the creation of the world

            • There are two beliefs concerning the wording “since the creation of the world”

              • One belief system says that the identity of the individuals who will enjoy God’s blessing and favor have been determined before their birth

              • The other belief system is that Jesus is referring to the group of those who are saved as a whole

              • “God has prepared this kingship for those who will prove to be worthy of it, but who those people will be remains to be discovered on the basis of their response to the gospel and to the will of God.” ​​ [France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 963]

              • As we’ll see in vv. 35-36, how individuals respond to Jesus’ disciples who are in need, is evidence of a genuine relationship with Him

        • Service (vv. 35-36)

          • The righteous ones recognize three basic human needs (food, shelter, and companionship) and step in to help

          • These individual did not have to be told to do these things, because it was an outpouring of their love for Christ

          • Their perspective on humanity had been transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ – they now saw each person as a valuable creation of God the Father

          • The amazing thing is that they didn’t even realize they were serving Jesus

        • Surprise (vv. 37-39)

          • These verses make it sound like the righteous are confused or surprised by the King’s statement

          • They didn’t realize that serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus

          • Jesus is saying to the righteous that they fed Him, gave Him water to drink, invited Him in to their homes, gave Him clothing, took care of Him when He was sick, and visited Him when He was in prison

            • Jesus is talking to His disciples about the final judgment

            • So, it could be confusing how these individuals had taken care of Jesus in the various scenarios outlined, since He was already back in heaven

            • I like how Wilkins addresses the surprise that the righteous ones are experiencing

            • “Such surprise indicates that these were not intentional meritorious acts to gain access to the kingdom. ​​ Rather, these acts of mercy are evidences that the sheep belong to the kingdom . . .” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, Matthew, 810]

              • The righteous were ​​ not doing these things as a way of working their way to heaven

              • They were doing these things as evidence that they were already citizens of heaven

              • They had been transformed by Jesus Christ and the proof was evident through how they served servants of Jesus

              • PRINCIPLE – Acts of service are a sign of salvation.

                • Our acts of service do not have to be “great” things

                • They are usually little things that seem insignificant to us

                • Providing food and drink to those who are need

                • Welcoming someone into our home who is a stranger

                • Offering clothing to those who need them

                • Caring for the sick or visiting those in prison

                • Perhaps the righteous didn’t even remember doing these things because they seem so insignificant

          • Application

            • Are we helping those in need?

              • There are individuals all around us who are in need

              • There are those who are hungry and thirsty

              • There are individuals who need shelter and clothing

              • There are many in our congregation right now who are sick and can use help

              • We financially support Chaplain Will Olson and his ministry at Adams County Adult Correctional Facility, but he needs volunteers to help with Bible studies to both men and women

              • There are other needs in our church and community that we can help with

                • Financial counseling

                • Those who have experienced divorce and separation (children and adults)

                • Various addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc.)

                • There a things we can do corporately as the body of Christ

              • What can you do individually?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to helping those in my church and community who are in need.

            • What is our motivation for helping those in need?

              • The righteous in Jesus’ parable weren’t motivated by accolades or the hope of salvation by serving others

              • It was an outpouring and evidence of the transformational power of the Gospel in their lives

              • “True disciples will pass an examination not because they are trying to pass an examination but because they will love his brothers and sisters – and therefore Jesus.” ​​ [D.A. Carson cited by Boice, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 2, An Expositional Commentary, 541]

              • We should be serving others, because of the salvation we have received through Jesus Christ

          • This passage has been used by many in the social Gospel movement to motivate Christians to serve the poor, but those Jesus is referring to here are not just any poor or needy person

        • Servants (v. 40)

          • Disciples of Jesus

            • The least of these brothers of mine refers to Christ’s disciples or all Christians

            • In Matthew’s gospel the Greek word used for “least” is the superlative form of the adjective “little [ones]” which without exception in the gospel of Matthew refers to the disciples (10:42; 18:6, 10, 14; cf. also 5:19; 11:11)

            • The same is true of the Greek word used for “brothers” – “when not referring to literal, biological siblings, always means spiritual kin (5:22-24, 47; 7:3-5; 12:48-50; 18:15 (2X), 21, 35; 23:8; 28:10).” ​​ [Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Matthew, 377-78]

            • John Broadus explains it this ways, “Our Lord is not expressly speaking of benevolence to the poor and suffering in general, but of kindness to his poor and suffering ‘brethren’ for his sake.” ​​ [Broadus cited by Boice, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 2, An Expositional Commentary, 541]

              • For this particular passage of Scripture, Jesus is saying that our future depends on how we relate to His followers, which is a reflection of how we relate to Him

              • The Apostle Paul reiterates Jesus’ teaching when writing to the Galatians about doing good to all

              • Galatians 6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

            • While this passage does not speak to the social justice for all people, that does not mean that God is ambivalent towards the poor and needy who are not followers of Jesus Christ

          • Importance of taking care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan

            • There are multiple passages throughout the Old Testament that speak about God’s will concerning the poor, the widow, and the orphan

            • Nearly every prophetic book in the Old Testament has a warning from the Lord concerning taking care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan

            • There are additional warnings against taking advantage of those who are less fortunate

            • The king and those in authority were not to forget about those in their kingdom who were in need

            • From those passages and others in the New Testament, we know that we have a responsibility to take care of all who are poor and needy, whether they are in our church or in our community

        • We see that the righteous are blessed and will receive the Kingdom as their inheritance, because they willingly took care of Jesus’ disciples who were in need as evidence of their salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ

        • But Jesus has something to say to those on His left who are cursed

    • Cursed (vv. 41-45)

        • Punishment (v. 41)

          • We see some mirrored opposites here

          • The cursed are told to depart from Jesus instead of coming to Him

          • They are cursed instead of blessed

          • Their destiny is the eternal fire instead of kingship

            • The eternal fire was prepared for the devil and his angels

            • We have no evidence in Scripture that the fallen angels were given a chance to repent

            • That is not the case with humanity

            • No one should have to face eternal fire – it was prepared for the devil and his angels

              • Yet there are those who have chosen hell by rejecting Jesus Christ

              • They have no one else to blame but themselves

              • God has given each of us a free will to either accept or reject His plan of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ

              • There are individuals who readily say they welcome hell as their destiny, but they don’t understand what they are saying and what’s at stake

                • Hell is total separation from those in heaven and from God – if those in hell are able to, they will understand the vastness of God’s grace and mercy because they will no longer be experiencing it – He will no longer hold back His wrath

                • Those who go to hell will be together with the devil and his angels in total rebellion against God

                • Hell is suffering – it will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30)

              • There is still hope!

                • Jesus has not yet returned the second time

                • God’s grace and mercy are still in full force

                • God’s salvation is still available to anyone and everyone who repents and submits to Jesus as their master

                • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

                • The beginning of our relationship with Jesus Christ comes in believing in Him, but it doesn’t stop there

                • It’s a total transformation that takes place in our lives through the Holy Spirit that now lives within us

                • Matthew 16:24-26, Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. ​​ What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? ​​ Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

                • Luke shares the same teaching from Jesus, but adds that the we have to take up our cross daily

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin my relationship with Jesus today by accepting God’s grace through faith in Jesus, and then grow in my faith by denying myself and taking up my cross daily.

          • Those on Jesus’ left did not make that decision and therefore neglected to take care of Jesus’ disciples

        • Neglect (vv. 42-43)

          • Here is the sad reality – the cursed did not do some great evil against Jesus’ disciples, they simply neglected to do good

          • The reality for us is that there are some who claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and attend church on a regular basis, but will be separated to Jesus’ left hand

            • Their relationship with Jesus was only lip service

            • A true transformation never took place

            • The evidence is clear from what Jesus says about those individuals

            • They did not take care of the basic needs of Jesus’ disciples who were suffering

        • Surprise (v. 44)

          • This group is also surprised by Jesus’ statement of not taking care of Him

          • They also didn’t recognize that taking care of Jesus’ disciples who were suffering meant they were taking care of Jesus

          • They didn’t understand that serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus

        • Servants (v. 45)

          • The same disciples of Jesus were around these individuals, but they refused to take care of them

          • Their perspective on humanity had not been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ

          • They perhaps looked right past or through these suffering servants of Jesus

          • Their hearts were not compassionate towards those followers of Jesus who were suffering for Him

          • They were more concerned about themselves instead of others

    • Accountability (v. 46)

        • PRINCIPLE – Every one of God’s people will be held accountable for their response to Jesus’ disciples who are in need.

        • Those who neglect to help Jesus’ disciples will experience eternal punishment

        • Those who serve Jesus’ disciples will experience eternal life

        • “The presence of kingdom life will always produce evidence in the transformed speech, thought, actions, and character of Jesus’ followers. ​​ The absence of transformation is proof that a person has not accepted the invitation to the kingdom. ​​ Reward or penalty is distributed according to the evidence.” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, 813]

 ​​​​ 

  • YOU

    • Does your life evidence a transformation by Jesus Christ?

    • If you’ve never accepted God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ are you ready to do that today?

    • If you stood before Jesus today would you be a sheep or a goat?

 

  • WE

    • We all have an individual responsibility to serve Jesus’ disciples who are in need

    • We also have a corporate responsibility

        • We need individuals who will lead various ministry aspects

        • Men’s ministry leader

        • Single’s or divorce recovery ministry for adults and children

        • Addiction recovery

        • Prison ministry

        • Many more

        • We need individuals who have a passion for these various areas to step up and lead

 

CONCLUSION

“When a friend cared for her housebound mother-in-law, she asked her what she longed for the most. ​​ Her mother-in-law said, ‘For my feet to be washed.’ ​​ My friend admitted, ‘How I hated that job! ​​ Each time she asked me to do it I was resentful, and would ask God to hide my feelings from her.’

 

But one day her grumbling attitude changed in a flash. ​​ As she got out the bowl and towel and knelt at her mother-in-law’s feet, she said, ‘I looked up, and for a moment I felt like I was washing the feet of Jesus Himself. ​​ She was Jesus in disguise!’ ​​ After that, she felt honored to wash her mother-in-law’s feet.

 

Today, might you echo my friend, who now wonders when she meets someone new, ‘Are you Jesus in disguise?’”

 

[Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread, September, October, November 2017, October 24]

12