Friday of Christ the King – Matthew 25:31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 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. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Daniel had made a movie. It was not an easy thing to do in his home country of Eritrea, doubly so because his movie was critical of the regime. His film was seen internationally, and he won an award at a film festival in Houston. He had an invitation to come, but would his government allow him to leave; would the U. S. Embassy be reopened in time for him to apply for a visa? Through what he described as a miraculous series of events, the embassy reopened for one day. He showed up and was granted the visa. The next day the Embassy closed again. Somehow, he was able to secure the ticket. He arrived in America. His phone rang. “Daniel, don’t come home. You will be arrested. They are looking for you.” whispered his friend.

Applied for and was granted asylum. Now he had to get his wife and daughter out. After years of trying, they were smuggled out of the country and got on a plane. He was whole and free at last. We wept together when I heard that news. Did you know that there is a Lutheran high school in the capital of Eretria? It has been for many years the best school to get an education. Daniel came from the sizeable Lutheran community in the capital where the school is located, and he attended that school. The dictator who sought his life is also an alumnus.

Jesus speaks these words through Matthew to a persecuted community of people. Some of them, like Daniel and his family, had fled in difficult days. When you flee for your life, you feel small, and you want to be unnoticed. Daniel’s wife and young daughter slipped over the border, praying not to be seen. Like Daniel, they had been helped by friends and strangers. Jesus’ point is clear. When someone helps you, be it friend or stranger, Jesus sees that. The cup of cold water given to the least of his brothers is given to him. Fleeing across the hot deserts of eastern Africa, that cup of cool water can mean everything.

When it comes time to judge the world, and that time comes, Jesus tells us that the world will be judged on how it treated you. That is how important you are to Him. Sometimes the world makes you feel small and sometimes you want to feel small and unnoticed. But you are never small nor beneath His notice. The King has his loving eyes on you, always. There is much to fear about the ending of this world. But you need never fear this King who is revealed on that day. His judgment, both his mercy and his wrath are always on your behalf.

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