Twenty Sixth Sunday after Trinity. Last Judgement.
"The day is surely drawing nigh When God's Son, the Anointed, Shall with great majesty appear As Judge of all appointed. All mirth and laughter then shall cease, When flames on flames shall still increase, As Peter truly telleth."
Today's hymn is found written in the Finnish hymn book, no. 404, the first verse: "The day is surely drawing nigh, When God's Son, the Anointed, shall with great majesty appear, as Judge of all appointed. All mirth and laughter then shall cease," — here the sorrowless laugh and are joyous in sin and make jokes, also mock and overlook God's word, but that time will soon come that all mirth and laughter shall cease when Christ comes in all His glory to keep the judgement with the good and the evil. The sorrowless are not able to laugh when death comes like a snare upon them. But that is worse that they laugh until that time that distress comes. They do not prepare themselves for judgement although this time of grace is so short. Christians have always awaited the judgement because they know the Judge is merciful to them. But the sorrowless have never awaited the judgement because they have lived so that they have nothing good to wait for, but when the judgement comes, they faint because of fear and awaiting those things which will come upon the earth. How many now would be ready to step before God's judgement of that great flock who here mock and laugh at God's truth? The drunkards and liquor merchants no doubt first step before the judgement to accuse the Christians as they have accused here. Then, no doubt, the whores and thieves come to accuse the Christians; they come, no doubt, to ask after their honor, who are so honorable. Who knows if some coverlet could be found for shelter when their shame is revealed and the whole world can see how meekly they have lived. The cursers and fighters also come before the judgement; no doubt they shake their fists at the Judge when He judges wrongly. After them those meek men will probably come, who do not believe that the Judge can condemn them when they have dealt rightly with all men. In their company probably are those meek whores, honest thieves, and temperate drunkards who have never even thought evil, let alone then committed it. And lastly come those humble Christians who haven't barked at anyone, and they think they are the Judge's best friends although they have not given any gifts to the Judge. But that is worse that the Judge accuses them of such sins which they have never committed. When, namely, the Judge accuses them of being merciless toward Him, then they say, "Lord, when saw we Thee in distress and have not served You?" Thus now the Judge becomes a wrong judge, when He judges the grace thieves of those sins which they do not know they have committed. What will then become of the Christians who here are hated and persecuted by the world's throng? The whole world awaits to see what kind of a judgement they will have because of their pride, who always judge others and hold themselves to be so good. I think that the Christians have given gifts to the Judge and persuaded Him; if the accuser of God's children wants to stand on his rights and demands that the Judge must judge all according to justice and merit, then the Judge says, "I will be merciful to whom I shall be merciful." But surely the accuser and all of his flock will become terribly angry at the Judge, when the Christians become free of the judgement, they threaten revenge — but what does it help? They must with shame go into that lake which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
Give gifts now to the Judge, all penitent and believing ones. Bear to Him gold, silver, and precious stones, give Him all your possessions and embrace His feet and weep upon His feet, before He sits upon the judgement throne and pray that He will be merciful to you! And we hope that He can so turn matters that the accuser will draw the fine and the transgressors of the law will be freed. Hear, merciful Judge, the sigh of the penitent and believing ones, and receive their gifts, that fear of the judgement would disappear and their hearts would become lighter, and be their Advocate on Judgement Day. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Matthew 25:31.
With the guidance of our holy gospel, we must consider: Why does the most high Judge accuse the sorrowless of such sins which they do not know they have committed? It seems clear from the gospel that they, who are on the left side, have not seen the Judge in distress when they ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, naked or in prison, or sick, and did not serve you?" Here now is one great blindness which the sorrowless do not comprehend. They confess with their own mouths that they have never seen Jesus in distress, although the sorrowless can say, "Neither have the Christians seen Jesus in distress." But they have nevertheless helped Him. Many a sorrowless wretch says to the Christians, "I have helped the poor more than you have." And let that be the boast of the sorrowless, that they have helped the poor more than the Christians; but the Catholics help the poor much more than the sorrowless Lutheran congregation. But we hear from the gospel how the most high Judge says to them who are on the right side, "What you have done to one of the least of my brethren, that you have done to me."
Who now are Jesus' brethren? The sorrowless do not believe that these despised Christians are the brethren of Jesus, but they think that all people are Jesus' brethren, especially the poor, but we hear that He could not keep others as His brethren, only His disciples who do the will of the Father. He could not, therefore, have kept those sorrowless poor as His brethren, but He says to Judas who also was concerned about the poor, "You have the poor always with you, etc." How will it go now with the sorrowless who have not seen Jesus in distress? Will they admit their blindness that they have not known who were Jesus' brethren? The disciples of Jesus are accordingly His brethren, and those who help Jesus' disciples when they are brought before the courts because of Christianity, brought into prison, or fined and because of that matter, come to suffer hunger, cold, and nakedness, or thirst and sickness. He helps Jesus when He is in distress, for Just they are Jesus brethren who the sorrowless hate, blaspheme, overlook, and keep as false prophets and wild spirits. But how can the sorrowless keep them as Jesus' brethren who they hold to be false prophets and wild spirits? They must hate them, and there the sorrowless do rightly the will of their father who is in the lower heaven. They who stand on the left side could never have seen Jesus in distress, nor have they known His brethren, for Jesus' brethren are, in the eyes of the world, like their own enemies. We also see from that, when help is solicited for poor Christians, that the sorrowless do not recognize them to be their neighbor, let alone Jesus' brethren; so the sorrowless do not have anything but goat hair, when they throw a few coins into the purse of the poor and say to the Christians, "I have helped the poor more than you have." Brother, you have not helped the poor as much as the Catholics have, although you always have the poor with you, and you can do good to them whenever you wish, but Jesus is not always with you. And if the correct accounting would be made, then I think that the boast of the sorrowless would be brought to naught! For who helps and has helped the poor more in this congregation than the Christians?
But the true reason that the sorrowless have not helped Jesus is this, that they have been so blind, that they have not seen Jesus in any distress. And Solomon writes, "That their wickedness has made them blind." Surely the sorrowless of this time could help Jesus if they would know Him, but they do not know Him, since the devil has reversed their eyes that they look with the eyes of the Pharisee, and see Him to be a false prophet and a wild spirit. As the Pharisees of that time said to Jesus, "Thou art a Samaritan and thou hast a devil," so also the Pharisees of this time say to the Christians, "You false prophets and wild spirits." Neither the sorrowless nor grace thieves believe at all that these Christians are Jesus' brethren; they cannot keep them as Christians. True sorrowless have never kept true Christians to be Christians, for Jesus' brethren have always been unknown to the world. At every time and in every place where true Christians have appeared, they have always been kept as false prophets and wild spirits. Do you see now, blind wretches, why Jesus accuses you of hardness of heart and mercilessness toward Him? You are the enemies of the cross of Jesus, you have hated and persecuted His brethren, you have over-looked and mocked them, for Jesus Himself and His brethren are unknown to you.
Again, what pertains to helping the poor, upon which the sorrowless build the hope of their salvation, they cannot spare too much to the poor, for some stray into the liquor merchants house, when they should come to church, and there the silver coin gets left which they were to save for the poor. Some build beautiful courtyards and come into debt so they have nothing with which to help. Some buy beautiful horses and the horses eat the share of the poor. Some buy Swedish serge and silk scarves with which they get to honorably travel in the kingdom of darkness. Some whore so much that they themselves become poor. How many are left of those who have not wasted their substance through foolishness, adultery, finery or drunkenness? And those who become poor say, "God has made us poor."
Now you have seen the signs of the last times in Heaven. Soon God will begin to pour the vials of His wrath upon the earth. Nations must faint because of fear and because of suspense.
The sorrowless have not seen Jesus in distress, but the Christians have helped Him although they do not remember when they would have helped; they have not put their good deeds in memory as the builders of self-righteousness. But all mirth and laughter then shall cease when Christ in all His glory will keep the judgement with the good and the evil. The true disciples always await the judgement, but the sorrowless think the judgement will never come, not at this time anyway, and for that reason they are bold to blaspheme and hate the brethren of Jesus, for which reason they are condemned. Make repentance and bear gifts to the Judge, before He sits upon the Judgement throne. Amen.