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The Jesus We Want To See

Matthew 25:31-46

The Rev. Jon Roberts

26 November


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

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 them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of 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, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘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, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Jesus the Shepherd by Joni Eareckson, 1970

The Jesus you want is not always the Jesus you see.

One Sunday morning, an old cowboy entered a church just before services. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt, and boots that were ragged and worn. In his hand he carried a worn-out hat and an equally worn out Bible. The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed in expensive clothes and accessories. As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted, spoke to or welcomed him. They were all appalled at his appearance and did not attempt to hide it. When the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor. "Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask him what he thinks would be appropriate attire for worship." The old cowboy assured the preacher he would. The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots and hat. Once again he was completely shunned. The preacher approached the man and said, "I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church". "I did," replied the old cowboy. "If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping in here?" asked the preacher. "Well sir, God told me that He didn't have a clue what I should wear. He said He'd never been in this church."

The disciples wanted a king and they got a shepherd instead. One who knew how to separate sheep from goats. Kind of like a cowboy. Nobody saw that coming. The king they wanted was not the king they saw in Jesus. Instead they got a lowly shepherd wearing a ragged tunic, a dirty sandals and a beard. Waiting for a king takes a long time. Nobody expects a shepherd to show in his place. Not hardly the person we can say, “Come let us sing unto the Lord. Let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation,” as we do today.[2] A shepherd looks ragged and worn. Their hands are rough and they don’t smell too good. Yet that is precisely who we put a crown on their head. Someone lowly.

It says in the bible that, “when the Son of Man, the king, comes in glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory…he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates sheep from the goats.”[3] The one who is willing to roll up their sleeves, lay hands on those entrusted to him, who feeds them and gives them shelter, he is the one whom we have been waiting to see. Why didn’t the disciples see Jesus as king right away? Why don’t we see Jesus as king today? Much of the reason they had long ago is the same reason we have today. If Christ the King were here today, there would be no problems. There would not be any who hunger or thirst. There would not be any who were homeless or lacked clothes. Poverty in such ways permeates the entire culture. It doesn’t stop there as it spreads to the ethical and moral unrighteous illnesses that topple nations. They are inextricably woven together in every social and family system from hunger to warfare.

​If Christ the King were here today he would put an end to it. This is what we want to see, but “sometimes God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.”[4] When people hunger and thirst for Jesus and his truth to rule in their lives, then we see his kingdom. When a church is known as a warm and welcoming church, yet reverent and holy, God feels at place. When we open ourselves for the shepherd to lay his hands on us, separating that which is good and that which is not, our wounds are healed and our needs are met.

But be prepared, the Lord moves in mysterious ways. He may just show up in your lives a cowboy or a shepherd because,…
The Jesus you want is not always the Jesus you see.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Psalm 95 The Venite
[3] Matthew 25:31-46
[4] Joni Eareckson Tada, 2011.

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