A Note from Pastor Wood: For You

The Gospel Lesson for this morning is haunting. The note of judgment sounds over the sheep and the goats, the righteous and the unrighteous. A lot has been said and written about concerning this judgment. It may strike our Lutheran ears as odd. The Son of Man says nothing about faith or grace. When the sheep are ushered in he points to works: feeding, welcoming, clothing, and visiting. These are the works of the righteous, it can hardly be denied. Likewise with the unrighteous, they are ushered out and they go away into eternal punishment for not doing the works of the righteous. This parable is terrifying because it reminds us that Christ will care about what he finds when he returns. It reminds us that he is concerned about our works.

That’s not the only thing this parable does, however. Look closely at the words of the Son of Man, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Do you notice the difference? It is subtle, but immensely important. The kingdom has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world. The punishment has been prepared for Satan and his angels.

When Satan rebelled against God he waged war in heaven and God cast him out and punished him straight away. Satan and his demonic army are utterly defeated and condemned. When we rebel what does God do for us? Does he prepare a place of punishment or perdition? No. God created human kind in his own image He breathed his life into them. When they rebelled he made a promise, “I will crush the head of the serpent.” When God called Abram he rebelled and had a child with a concubine, God repeated the promise “In you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” As the story continues time and time again, complaint after complaint, judge after judge, prophet after prophet, king after king, God over and over and over again pursues his people with his love and his promise that Satan would be crushed, sin would be defeated, and the life of Eden would return 100 fold. Finally, the Father sent His only begotten Son, who pursued His fallen creation into the grave, even to the very depths of hell, in order to chase us down with his promise.

The story continues in you. When you rebel and fail to accomplish those righteous works. When you fight against God in the very works of unrighteousness God continues to pursue you with His promise. By the power of the Holy Spirit in the water of Holy Baptism God pursued you. In the words of Holy Forgiveness God pursues you with life. God will chase you down with the love of pastors, church workers, parents, friends and family. God will pursue you with His love. For, He prepared a kingdom for you from the foundation of the world and He intends for you to be part of it.

…Pastor Wood