About the end: divine plan

jesus-apostles-endtimesTime and The Divine Plan – A Theology of History. “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” The broad scope of the question in v.7 is significant, since a judgment of Jerusalem that wipes out the temple suggests a time of great catastrophe and a turning point in the nation’s history and identity. Such an event can only signal that God’s plan for the nation is underway. Though Luke’s form of this question is more focused on the temple than the questions in Matthew 24:3 and Mark 13:4, its implications clearly cover the same span. Continue reading

What divides: fire

christ-dancing-christianBrian Stoffregen insightfully noted that “Our gospel text is not one you find on many refrigerator doors or on greeting cards.” The image of Jesus in these text is upsetting to one who only seeks the meek and mild Jesus. Having begun with an exhortation to courage in the face of tribulation, continuing with a warning against avarice in the face of fear, Jesus now raises the issue of judgment. The people are called to conversion before it is too late. Continue reading

Last Things – a final thought

judgmentA Final Thought: Not Keeping Score. Richard Jensen (Preaching Matthew’s Gospel, 220-22) has comments from his book about this parable which I thought I would share:

The righteous are surprised. They don’t know their deeds. They haven’t kept score. Their left hand doesn’t seem to know what their right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3)….

The righteous were righteous because of their deeds and they didn’t know it. They didn’t know their own righteousness…. The righteousness of the sheep was precisely an alien righteousness. They didn’t even know they possessed it!… Continue reading

Last Things – the eternal

judgmentWhat We Fail To Do. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ The exchange between the king and the accursed mirrors the exchange with the righteous, though suitably abbreviated to avoid tedious repetition – even absenting “brothers and sisters” with reference to the “least ones” in v. 45. The list is the same, the perplexed “when did we see you” response, and the King’s reply. One contrast might lie in something small. In v.44, summarizing the actions of the accursed, they ask when they did “not minister to your needs?” Continue reading

Last Things – the accursed

judgmentSolidarity. 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ The words “Amen, I say to you,” here and in v. 45 emphasize the principle of solidarity. Whether they knew it or not, the people they helped were associated with Jesus, to such an extent that they could be said to be Jesus. The more general principle of Proverb 19:17 that “Whoever cares for the poor lends to the Lord” is thus here more specifically applied to Jesus and his people. Continue reading

Last Things – the blessed

judgmentThe Blessed. 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. As noted above, the “Son of Man” is now depicted as “king.” It the king himself who points out “my Father.” The Christological implications are clear – and even though it comes from the Gospel of John, one is hard pressed not to be reminded (John 5:27) where Jesus tells his disciples that all authority has been given to the Son to implement judgment. Continue reading

Last Things – commentary

judgmentFulfillment. 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him.” Matthew, writing to a largely Jewish Christian audience, has, from the beginning, relied heavily on OT imagery and scenes. This opening verse does no less. The most evident echo is from Daniel 7:13-14 and the wider setting found there. “The Son of Man,” “comes,” “glory” all directly echo those verses, as does the idea of enthronement. Matthew also echoes Daniel 7:9-10 from which we have the specific mention of “throne,” the gathering of angels, and the idea of judgment. There is one important difference. In Daniel’s scene it is God himself seated on the throne of judgment. In Matthew it is now the Son of Man, fulfilling what was depicted in Dan 7:14. Continue reading

Last things – background

judgmentBackground and Context- This passage from Matthew is particularly dense with OT references, uses language that has already appeared in earlier Matthean verses (thus already having an contextual meaning), and because of its eschatological setting, invites comparison with other sacred writers, especially, St. Paul. Hence a bit more “context” is needed, or better said, background. Continue reading

Last things – context

judgmentMatthew 25:31-46 – 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his 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, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, 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 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Continue reading