The birth of Jesus is one of the most universally celebrated days of the Christian world today. Believers and unbelievers alike appear to celebrate with equal fervor. The Babe of Bethlehem seems to offer this wretched world a certain hope if only man will follow the example of the good man. Believer and unbeliever alike see many of the same features in the birth of Jesus. The difference is the believer has on the spectacles of faith; while the unbeliever, though he sees, is blinded to the reality of Christmas. With his spectacles, the believer sees that Jesus is his Lord and Redeemer who will someday return on the clouds of heaven in judgment. Jesus himself says: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see and that they which see might be made blind.” Yes, indeed, the Babe of Bethlehem is coming in judgment to take unto Himself His sheep and cast the goats into outer darkness.
In this season of celebration, I would like to address a few sobering words to you on the implication of Jesus’ return in judgment, particularly as we find them in Matthew 25:31-46.
Jesus’ judgment is a terrible thing. As the risen Lord, He is given the power to judge in the name of God. In His judgment, the elect (sheep) are separated from the reprobate (goats). The elect He takes to reign eternally with Him while the reprobate He sends to hell. The irony of Christmas is that the reprobate celebrate the birth of their Judge who will condemn them to hell.
This judgment of Christ is based on what man has done with Christ. In verse 40, Christ says “in as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” The point is that Christ is in heaven. Therefore, what we do to the Saints of Christ on this earth we do to Christ. We must see that Christ and His Church are one unified body with Christ as Head. Therefore, what is done to the saints as they are members of the body is done to Christ.
Christ, the righteous Judge, judges according to strictest justice. He will judge everyone on the basis of their sin. The sentence of Christ will be beyond appeal because man will know on the basis of his works that he deserves precisely what he receives at the Judgment.
In this Christmas season, we must remember that the Babe of Bethlehem is our Judge and as Judge He has determined who are His sheep. We must also remember that those who are the sheep of Christ are characterized by what they have done with Christ, particularly as He is reflected in each of the saints. This is a very sobering thought for each of us. As the sheep of Christ, we must show care and concern for our fellow saints. Each has the responsibility before our covenant God to serve our fellow saints whether that saint be in our eyes the least or the greatest. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a spiritual equality because all are necessary to the Body. One part cannot say to another part, “I have no need of you”. All are necessary because all make up an important part of that spiritual Body of Christ. Sometimes, it is the least comely parts that are the most important members in this Body. As the sheep of Christ, we must conduct ourselves as if we realize this important fact.
I have had, as a teacher, the opportunity to observe some behavior which frightens me. This is partly my reason for writing my article. We confess with lip, but it appears the heart is far from God. I see fellow saints being deliberately ostracized because they do not happen to fit into our mode of behavior or social status. I hear students maliciously talked about as “goodie-goodies” because they do not want to join in our wicked “fun”. Those who have less talents, both physical or mental, are excluded from activities as not being good enough. The turned back, the stopped conversation, the stinging rebuke, the snicker at a mistake, the heavy sigh are many ways we serve notice that a fellow saint is not wanted. Who of us is immune to any of these actions? “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The important point for us to see is that when we treat our fellow saints in this manner, we are really sinning against Christ. Unless we repent of this terrible sin, we will be judged as if we committed the very act against Christ. Let us not console ourselves in that we are members of Christ’s Church and, therefore, will not be judged as goats. God is not mocked. We must remember that judgment begins at the house of God where those who know better will be given the greater condemnation.
In this Christmas season, let us go by faith to Bethlehem and behold our Savior who so loved His sheep given Him of the Father that in His mercy He died the accursed death of the cross that they might have eternal life. Then we, too, will have the grace of God to show mercy and love to our fellow saint realizing they all are of the Body that Christ has redeemed.
In closing, I would like to quote from an article written by Rev. Vos on this subject:
“Minister then, beloved!
Minister to the saints of God. Christ dwells in them.
You may put it this way: Christ Jesus, the Son of God is very miserable in His people. Jesus is hungry and thirsty, naked and sick, a stranger and in jail—in his people!
Love them then, and in the Divine love, reach out to them and alleviate the suffering of Christ in His body, that is, the church!
And the righteous Judge shall reward such mercy in His just Judgment.”
“O Lord, how shall a youth preserve his way,
At every turn by vanity surrounded?
In truth, if he Thy statutes will obey,
If on Thy Word his attitudes are founded.
Thou whom I’ve sought, O let me never stray
From Thy commandments, lest I be confounded.”
Psalter No. 428