Readings for the Last Sunday of the Church Year
Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24
As you might expect on a Sunday that is so named, the upcoming readings talk about God’s ultimate dealings with humanity at the end of this earthly age. God intervenes in a decisive way to administer final justice.
That word “justice” arouses complicated feelings. Depending on where you stand, it can be either Law or Gospel. God’s justice is sweet comfort to the oppressed even as it leaves the offenders quaking in fear. Let’s allow the Word to speak to us in both ways this week.
Can I think of times when I have abused my power as a leader – at home, at work, or even at church? Have I been ignoring the needs of a certain neighbor because I was so caught up in doing my own thing? (Ezek 34, Matt 25) Jesus calls us to acknowledge his Lordship and turn away from these sinful behaviors.
But do not miss this: our LORD’s justice is tempered with mercy and motivated by a perfect love. The reason for His intervention in Ezekiel is not to destroy, but to restore the flock that needs Him. We know “my servant David” as Jesus the Good Shepherd who absorbed the full force of divine justice on the cross – sparing the sheep! And the basis of those judgments rendered in Matthew are not the human performance of good works, but rather God’s gracious choosing of us for salvation which took place before the foundation of the world! All our good works are just a response to that incredible good news.
Praise God for His perfect justice! Praise Him, too, for His mercy and love!