“And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Friday, 27 November 2020
In the parable of the Last Judgement, there is an important message which we cannot overlook: judgement is real and it is final. There should be no fear for those who have carefully engaged in the deeds listed in the text. They will be embraced into eternal life in God’s reign with all the righteous.
Matthew highlights the contrast between saying “Lord, Lord” and doing God’s will in several parables (7:21-27, 21:28-32). Jesus tells his disciples – and others who hang around with him – that they must do all that the scribes and Pharisees teach. However, he also denounces the scribes and Pharisees because they do not put their own teaching into practice (23:3). One who responds to Jesus’ invitation cannot simply assent intellectually or with words. Faith must be expressed in righteous deeds and ethical behaviour – like the wedding guest who dresses appropriately (22:1-14); or a servant who performs their duties with diligence (24:42-51).
We should not be surprised that in this final parable in the Gospel, Jesus highlights that the deeds we perform are the basis for our judgement.
This highlights an essential reflection for all believers in Christ. Often there is a significant gap between what we say and what we do. This parable challenges us to work at ensuring that our words and actions are on par. We know that this is difficult and, yet, this gap determines whether we are saved or not. Our faith is not authentic – nor does it inspire others – when it is mere words that roll off our lips. Our faith is a living faith when our deeds speak louder than our words.
If we are honest, we realise that we all fall short. We all have the tendency to say one thing and do another – or nothing! When we do this, we not only discredit the faith that Jesus invites us too (and the Lord himself), but we betray our own identity as followers of Jesus.
Do you notice the gap between what you profess and what you actually do? What do you need to do to ensure that your words sync with your deeds, that your witness to Christ is credible?