Thoughts on Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 23:41-43 

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Elfed Godding 29.10.20

Towards to end of his ministry as he approached the cross, Jesus told stories about justice mercy and grace.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus told a story to illustrate the ultimate test of a living faith, often referred to as the story of ‘the sheep and the goats’. It is startling to many of us that Jesus makes no mention of believing in this story. The commendation and acceptance seems to be based on acts of justice, mercy and grace. But there is no surprise here because the apostle Paul years later wrote ‘it is by grace we have been saved through faith – not of works so that no one can boast’ Ephesians 5:8. And then James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, added ‘Faith without deeds is dead’, James 2:26.

Faith is not real unless it has expression. It is not mental assent and not passive. Jesus approaches the end of his ministry upon earth still proclaiming the gospel in the language of liberation and demonstrating it with justice, mercy and faith, the most striking examples of which are from the margins of society; those who live below the bread line, the exile, those who are impoverished and the prisoner.

The final conversation that Jesus had before his death on the cross was with an offender being punished for his crime. The conversation led to the offender receiving forgiveness from Jesus and the promise to be with him in heaven, Luke 23:41-43. It is no accident that Jesus’ last conversation on the cross resulted in justice, mercy and grace for a repentant criminal.

The most effective way for us to emulate Jesus in our disciple-making commission in Matthew 28:19-20 is to proclaim and demonstrate his justice, mercy and grace. This is the Gospel.

This week let’s pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours and for opportunities to demonstrate acts of mercy and grace.

To close why not pray using the words of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.

Elfed Godding, 27/10/2020