Sermon outline on Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 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; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
There is a print done by William Zdinak. From a distances it looks like a picture of Jesus, head bowed and a crown of thorns around his head. A closer look reveals that this image is made by combining the images of many people. The images include Dr. Jonas Salk, President John Kennedy, Pope John XXIII, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Alexander Graham Bell. The painting is called “In His Image.” It depicts our oneness in Christ.
You could say that this picture represents the church. As we come together following Christ the image that appears to those beyond the church is that of the Christ. Remember, the church is not a building. The church is not a steeple. The church is not a resting place. The church is the people.
When those people come together, they offer the world a picture of Jesus Christ. I wonder what Jesus looks like to the people that look at our church. As the priesthood of believers, we are Christ’s representative where ever we go.
Matthew turns this idea around in today’s scripture lesson. Jesus turns to those on his right and says, “Blessed are you.” “When I was hungry your fed me. When I was thirsty you gave me drink. When I was naked, you clothed me. When I was in prison you visited me.”
Those on his right hand were puzzled. “Lord, we never saw you hungry, thirsty, needing clothes, or in prison. How could we have done anything.”
Then Jesus tells those he has judged as righteous, “When you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me.”
What does Jesus look like? In this case not those who are faithful followers, but rather those who are in need. Want to see Jesus? Look at the hungry child. Look at those whose home is under a bridge.
BUT it’s more than just looks. Jesus says to us that the way we treat them is the way we treat Jesus. It is they who represent Christ to us.
Jesus implies a question which judges us. How have you treated me? Have you taken good care of me or have you ignored me? Have you treated me with respect or have you abused me? Have you said ugly things to me and about me or have you praised me? Have you been mean to me or have you been kind to me? Have you be helpful or have you be hurtful?
The story is told of Martin of Tours who was a Roman soldier and a Christian. One cold winter day, as he was riding into the city, a poor beggar stopped him and asked him for alms. Although Martin had no money, he was moved with compassion for the poor man who stood shivering in the cold. Martin gave him what he had. Taking off his soldier’s coat, worn and frayed though it was, he cut it in two and gave half of it to the beggar.
That night, Martin had a dream. In his dream he saw heaven and all of the angels and Jesus in the midst of them. Jesus was wearing half of a Roman soldier’s cloak. One of the angels said to him “Master, why are you wearing that battered old cloak? Who gave it to you?”
And Jesus answered softly, “My servant, Martin, gave it to me.”
MOTHER Teresa tells us, the gospel is written on our fingers! “YOU DID IT TO ME.” She says, “At the end of your life, your 5 fingers will either excuse you or accuse you of doing it unto the least of these. YOU DID IT TO ME.”
A young lady named Sally, relates an experience she had in a seminary class, given by her teacher, Dr. Smith. She says Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons. One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day. On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person’s picture.
Sally’s girlfriend drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face. Sally was pleased with the overall effect she had achieved.
The class lined up and began throwing darts. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats.
As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn’t have a chance to throw any darts at her target, Dr. Smith began removing the target from the wall. Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus.
A complete hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced. Dr. Smith said only these words… “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40 No other words were necessary; tears filled eyes of many of the students.
John Wesley urged us to “offer them Christ.” As disciples of Jesus Christ, Matthew gives us the command that came from Jesus. “Go and make disciples.” In other words, offer them Christ. To whom have we offered Christ this past week. What did that Christ look like? When others look at us, do they see Christ in us and in our actions. When we look at others do we see Christ in them and help them to be one with Christ.
The apostle Paul reminded the churches in Roman and Corinth that those we encounter who are different from us-those who may be weaker in the faith-are still ones for whom Christ died. Those we would like to pin up as a target are ones for whom Christ died.