Matthew 25:31-33

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.” Matthew 25:31-33

Like many other people in Houston, I was disappointed at the news that Lebron James had decided to take his basketball skills to Los Angeles. Nothing against Lo$ Angele$, he had lot$ of great rea$on$ for moving there….but it would have fun to see him play for my town.

I’m thinking of Lebron today because he will always come up on the list of NBA GOAT’s. I find it just a bit ironic that we use GOAT to refer to the “greatest of all time.” Ironic because anyone who has read the Bible knows, like the childrens’ song has long taught us, “I would rather be a sheep, bah, bah, bah, bah.

Jesus turns the heat up now in the 25th chapter of Matthew. Now he isn’t telling stories about unnamed masters and slaves, now he is painting a picture of a future to which “all the nations” are heading. He describes a gathering together of the scattered nations and a sorting process that puts some on the left and some on the right. The sheep and the goats. I just wanna be a sheep.

We’ll have to read on to learn more about this sorting process but for today – especially as we in the United States prepare to eat hamburgers and hot dogs to celebrate Independence Day – let’s notice just how undemocratic this future vision is. The Son of Man is in charge. The sheep and the goats have no say in the matter. Regardless of their earthly power, their constant jostling for position, their past tales of glory, “all the nations” are reduced to farm animals.

The Good Shepherd, once reduced to pastel images of carrying the lost sheep home or surrounded by children, is now the Great Separator. Backed up by an army of angels.

Anyone, it seems to me, upon hearing this brief introduction to the story that will now carry us to the end of the chapter, will end up wanting to be a sheep. They just might not want what it takes.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, our ears perk up at the idea of a great separation. We don’t want to be left out, or left behind, or found wanting. We don’t want to be exposed. We want to be insulated and protected and privileged. We like the illusions of control. We like to justify our likes and defend our divisions and protect our preferences. But we know the day will come when all of that will be stripped away. Help us live today as we want to be found on that one. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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