April 13, 2011

Christ Our Glorious King - Matthew 25:31-46

With great certainty Jesus spoke of a coming Day of Glory, for Himself and all true believers. He did not say, “IF,” but “WHEN the Son of Man shall come…” This is Messianic language, the day when He returns to earth to be manifested in all His glory. John saw this in rapturous vision – Revelation 19. And nothing more inspires an ardent pursuit of God, His Son, and His will, than the Book in which we perceive our Lord’s own fore-showing to His people as to how and wherein all their faith and expectations in Him will reach their ultimate goal.

In incredible strokes of prophetic description, God pronounces His own “AMEN” to close the sordid account of tragic human history, and opens to the eyes of faith vistas of eternal glories to be enjoyed only by those who are His by faith in His Son. In Revelation 19 the rapture of believers has already taken place (v.1). The Judgment Seat of Christ has been convened; saints exult in God’s judgment of the great whore (ch.18); and Christ’s pure Bride who has “made herself ready” is called to “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (v.7-9). A victorious celebration!

Then Christ in regal splendour as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (v.16) straddles His white horse and comes to the earth in unassailable power “to judge and make war” (v.11-12). Armies of angels and tens of thousands of saints are in His procession (v.14). Jude 1:14. While saints had celebrated the Supper of the Lamb, there will be another supper as scavenging birds are summoned to a judgment “supper of the great God” (v.17-18). Fearful beyond description!

Christ Jesus will overthrow Antichrist. One angel will bind Satan and cast him into the abyss (20:1-3), no longer reigning as the god of this world, for Christ sets up His kingdom of peace and righteousness. Daniel 7:13-14. HE sits upon “the throne of His glory” in indescribable splendour, radiant with a Divine glory uniquely His. Every knee must bow to Him. Philippians 2:10-11.

How important to understand this, for it is the setting of Matthew 25 where Jesus affirms His Kingship over all the earth. All Gentile nations will be literally ‘herded’ before Him to whom all judgment has been committed. John 5:22. A standard part of Jewish expectation for the future is God judging the nations (Isaiah 2:4), distinguishing among the sheep (Ezekiel 34:17). The role of Messiah as Judge is a designation without parallel in the perceptions of Judaism.

Of course, this judgment of the nations must be distinguished from the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium. Rev.20:11-15. Yes, fearful judgments await the godless, Christ’s verdicts addressing individuals in the nations, not nations as a whole (Matt.25:46). But what blessedness is in prospect for those pronounced righteous in Christ; “inheriting the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world … going into eternal life” (vs.34,46.)

Who are these people in this passage? Jesus evidently refers to three groups: the sheep, the goats, and “my brethren”, the latter possibly being believing Jews from the time of Great Tribulation. The sheep were those who manifested compassion for those Jews and ministered to them in their adversity, while the goats were those who despised them and denied those help. While the goats go away into everlasting punishment, the sheep are ushered into the kingdom according to God’s grace. We cannot read salvation by works into this passage, which would be a denial of the New Testament Gospel. The deeds of the righteous are a manifestation of God’s grace in their lives.

While Israel will at last enjoy with uninhibited blessing the fullness of what God has covenanted, the glorified Church will reign with Christ on the earth, as He sits on HIS throne reigning forever! Luke 1:30-33. Revelation 5:9-10. HOW GLORIOUS IS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

AND HOW WONDROUS IS HIS SALVATION, for significantly in Matthew 26 Jesus immediately draws attention to HIS CROSS (v.1-2) where He would atone for the sins of the world (vs.26-29). The way into His Kingdom for all is through His Cross!

During this season before Easter, First Assembly of God will be publishing devotional messages, in conjunction with the book 40 Days with Jesus, compiled by Randy Hurst.  Members of our team are contributing short devotionals based in the campaign daily readings. 

What IS 40 days with Jesus? Simply, a church-wide campaign to prepare our hearts and reach out to our friends at Easter 2011. From March 14th through Easter Sunday everyone at First Assembly is being challenged to read together through a series of daily Bible readings about the life of Jesus and the prophecies about Him from the Old Testament.  Then a couple of weeks before Easter we're asking everyone to give away a second book, "The Risen Savior", to a friend or family member with a personal invitation for them to come to church on Easter Sunday morning.

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