Sunday's Sermon (Print Copy)

 

"You Did It To Me"

 by Pastor Wayne

November 22, 2020 - Christ the King Sunday - A

 

Sermon text: “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.’” – Matthew 25:40

 

Have you seen Jesus this past week?

Have you seen Jesus?

I don’t mean have you seen him in a dream or a vision?

I don’t mean have you seen him in your imagination?

I don’t mean have you seen him in a painting?

I mean have you seen him with your eyes?

In just the same way as you see other people in your life,

            have you seen Jesus?

Have you seen him – a real person with eyes, hair, and skin?

Have you seen Jesus this past week?

 

The surprising answer to this question is: yes.

Yes, we have.

Oh, we may not have recognized him,

      but we have all certainly seen Jesus this past week.

 

This is the surprising and remarkable truth

      that we learn through our gospel reading for today.

In this parable, Jesus tells us about the final judgment day.

Everyone will come before King Jesus.

As a shepherd might separate sheep from goats,

      so Jesus will separate all the people into two groups:

            the saved and the condemned.

To those who are saved he will say:

      “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.”

 

The righteous will be totally surprised by his words

            and will think that Jesus is mistaken.

They will confess that they had never seen Jesus...

            much less... seen him hungry or thirsty or sick.

But Jesus will explain to them,

      “….as you did it to one of the least of these

                  who are members of my family,

            you did it to me.”

 

Jesus himself is present in the lives of the least...

            the poor... the homeless... the strangers... the sick.

How can this be?

How can Jesus be in these people’s lives?

Is Jesus physically present with them in some way?

Or is he spiritually present with them in their hearts?

Or is he just present with them in some symbolic way?

Well, we don’t know.

We don’t know how Jesus is present in the lives of these people.

We don’t how this can be possible.

But we believe that it is so

      simply because Jesus tells us that is the way that it is.

He is present in all individuals who many in the world

            might consider to be least and last of all people.

 

In the fourth century there lived a man named Martin.

In his latter years he would become a bishop in France.

The church remembers him as a saint: St. Martin, Bishop of Tours.

Martin Luther was named after him.

In his early life, Martin was no bishop but a Roman soldier.

He gradually became a Christian.

One cold winter day, he and his fellow soldiers

            were traveling through a small village.

He saw a beggar asking for money.

The poor man was shivering cold.

Looking down from his horse, Martin had pity on the man.

He took off his own soldier’s coat and tore it in half.

One half he gave to the beggar

            and he kept the other half for himself.

In his tent that night Martin slept soundly.

He dreamed that he was in heaven with the angels and with Jesus.

He saw that Jesus was wearing half of a Roman soldier’s coat.

An angel asked Christ,

      “Lord, why are you wearing a coat so thin and ragged as that?

      Who gave that coat to you, Lord?”

Jesus turned his face toward Martin and said softly,

      “Martin, my servant, gave it to me.”

 

“As you did it to the least, you did it to me.”

 

Some years ago, Mother Teresa said:

      “I see Jesus in every human being.

            I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him.

            This is sick Jesus.

            This one has leprosy or gangrene;

                  I must wash him and tend to him.

            I serve because I love Jesus.”

 

Several years ago I met a man at a wedding reception.

He told me that he was a butcher in a grocery store.

The owner of his grocery store each week

            would hire a “secret shopper.”

This “secret shopper” would be a different person each week

            and would be a person unknown to the store employees.

The purpose of this “secret shopper”

      was to shop in the store as if they were just an ordinary shopper

            and then to report back to the boss

                  about how they were treated

                        by each of the store’s employees.

Since the store’s employees didn’t know

                  who might be the “secret shopper,”

      they had to treat every customer with kindness and helpfulness.

Every customer that came into the store,

            the employees had to treat

                  as if he or she could be the “secret shopper.”

Well, in a similar way,

      we are to treat each person that we encounter each day,

            as if they he or she were Jesus himself.

We are to especially treat the poor, needy, sick, and outcast

            as if they were Jesus himself.

 

Jesus comes to us every day.

But do we recognize him?

 

On that final judgment day may we all be in the group

            to whom King Jesus will say:

      “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.”

 

And if we have forgotten... if we have forgotten

            how we have served Jesus in such ways...

      once again our Lord will tell us:

            “Truly, I tell you,

                  as you did it to one of the least of these

                              who are members of my family,

                        you did it to me.”

Amen.