Twenty-Seventh (or last) Sunday after Pentecost (Reign of Christ the King): Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100 or Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-26; Psalm 95:1-7a; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd and the Chief Shepherd.
God speaks to us in love. He says, ‘I Myself will be the Shepherd of My sheep’ (Ezekiel 34:15). We rejoice in His love. We say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is our Shepherd. He is ‘the good Shepherd’. He laid down His life for us that we might receive the forgiveness of our sins. ‘Christ died for our sins’. He - ‘the Righteous’- died for us - ‘the unrighteous’- ‘to bring us to God’ (John 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is ‘the great Shepherd’. He was ‘raised’ from the dead’. Through His resurrection, we receive eternal life. He says to us, ‘Because I live you will live also’ (Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:4; John 14:19). He is ‘the chief Shepherd’. He will come again with ‘the unfading crown of glory’ for His ‘good and faithful servants’ (1 Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:21).
Let us worship the Lord with joy.
‘Exalt the Lord our God... Make a joyful noise to the Lord’ (Psalms 99:5, 9; 98:4, 6; 100:1). We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy! ... The Lord our God is holy!’(99:5,9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever... He has done marvellous things!’ (Psalms 100:5; 98:1). The God of ‘awesome purity’loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee...’ Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears... with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’ (Church Hymnary, 356).
‘Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord... Let us come before Him with thanksgiving... Come, let us bow down in worship...’ (Psalm 95:1-2, 6). We are to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving. We rejoice in the Lord. We give thanks for His love. He is ‘the great God’. He is ‘our God’. He is the God of creation - ‘In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land’. He is the God of salvation - ‘We are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care’ (Psalm 95:3-5, 7). If we are to learn to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving, we must open our hearts to Him: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Psalm 95:7-8). When we hear the call to worship, we must open our hearts to the Spirit of worship.
As we worship God, we are called to have faith in Him and to be faithful to Him.
‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10). God calls us to live a ‘holy’ life. We cannot make ourselves holy. We are spiritually ‘dead’. We need to be ‘made alive’ - by God. Holiness does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord. Long before we ever thought of loving Him - He loved us. Our love for Him is so changeable. His love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. It is eternal. He loved us ‘before the foundation of the world’. He will love us ‘in the world to come’. This is the love of God, the love which inspires us and enables us to live a ‘holy’ life (Ephesians 2:1; 1:4; 2:7). When we realize the truth concerning ourselves - ‘nothing good dwells within me’ (Romans 7:18) - and God - He is ‘rich in mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4) - , we will ‘praise His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6).
We are to be faithful to God (Matthew 25:21). There is a reward for faithfulness (Matthew 25:29; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Our ‘reward’ is not to get more glory for ourselves: ‘what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). Bringing glory to God - this is to be our greatest joy. We are not to be thinking, ‘What am I going to get out of this?’ We are to be asking, ‘What can I give to others?’ The ‘righteous’ are not full of boasting about their ‘righteous’ actions (Matthew 25:37-38). The Lord’s true servants do not draw attention to themselves. Do you have ‘talents’? Yes - you do! Use them! ‘Serve the Lord with gladness’ (Psalm 100:2). Let this be your ‘reward’: the joyful privilege of bringing blessing to others and glory to God. On earth, we begin to ‘enter the joy of our Lord’ (Matthew 25:21). In heaven, there will be ‘fullness of joy’and ‘pleasure for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).