Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46 tells of the final judgment in terms of inheriting the the kingdom of God (or not) based on following the Lord Jesus. Throughout the six months of the liturgical season of Pentecost we have considered in these Reflections Christian behavior as set forth in N.T. Wright’s After You Believe. The Gospels are all about Christ as King (Messiah) and the kingdom of God He came to initiate on earth as in heaven and how His followers are to play key roles in launching the kingdom among those with whom they have relationships. This is how we will be judged at the Last Day – have we borne fruit for the kingdom?
As we begin a new liturgical year next Sunday with the first Sunday in Advent, we will consider the Gospel readings appointed by the lectionary in terms of another book by N.T. Wright, How God Became King (2013), and King’s Cross (2011) by Timothy Keller. The latter is a collection of homilies on the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel readings in the lectionary for this year (year B in the liturgical calendar) are the Gospel of Mark. The former book is about how the Gospels have been misread and misinterpreted as they tell the story of Jesus coming to inaugurate the kingdom of God on earth. While this message is seen throughout the Gospels, it has been distorted by theologians and the church. As we go through the Gospels, the meaning about the kingdom of God seems to have been often overlooked and neglected so that the real message is distorted.
As we go through the Gospels for the seasons from Advent through Easter to the Ascension, we will have a chance to reflect on what the kingdom of God meant to Jesus and how it would be launched in the world and how God would be the King and what that means. It is not the story usually told. For example the Apostle’s Creed says, “…was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate…” Nothing is said about His life between His birth and His crucifixion and what He did with His life on earth, or why. One might think from the creeds that He was divine but came only to die so that believers could go to heaven. But the canonical Gospels tell a very different story about His life and what He came to do in terms of the kingdom God and what this means to us and for us as His followers.
The Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20) makes His disciples responsible for making the kingdom a reality and spreading it throughout the world. Today’s Gospel text in Matthew 28 says to those who have heard and understood and lived His message, “Come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” That is what Wright’s book is about and what we will be considering in these Reflections from now until the Easter season is concluded and the season of Pentecost begins again. It is about the Old Testament background and how that is fulfilled in Jesus and how Jesus became King defeating the ‘Ruler of this world’ and making His followers a kingdom of priests who will finish the job Christ began.
Memory Verse: When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy 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 them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats (Mt 25:31).