The text for the week is here.
The Working Preacher commentary is here.
I commend the WP podcast to you!
If I were striving for a two-minute sermon this week, I would say, “In my years of preaching and pastoring, I have been asked about literal interpretations of scripture. How do we understand Revelation? When should we go ahead and pluck out an offending eye? How did Jonah survive in the belly of the whale? Will the ark ever be found? What does it mean to be poor in spirit? No one, and I mean not one person, has ever consulted with me on how to interpret today’s passage literally. No one has asked how many sandwiches, prison visits, coats for kids, or cups of water are sufficient. It is as though this passage and this one alone stands a clear metaphor. Metaphor for what? The people who always did the right thing and were never too busy or too tired or too broke or too afraid. Or the people who would have done the right thing if they’d known they were doing it for someone important. Literally, this passage is a parable in which Jesus is revealing to his disciples how faithfulness will be interpreted in the kingdom to come. Metaphorically, followers of the Way are learning how faithfulness is to be lived out in the kingdom at hand. We will all be sheep at some point. We will all be goats. Our hope is in the king who leads us to and meets us in every encounter. This is most literally true.”
There is so much angst in whether or not one will be counted among the sheep or the goats. Is it possible to draw back from the parable to look at it as part of the larger scope of world events? What does it mean to try to be sheep in a world that has become accustomed to permanent war? What does it mean to look for the presence of the king in the legislature and in the homeless shelter? How does a sheep wrestle with the double-edged sword of uncertainty in the face of great need? How do we learn to live with, as is said on the podcast, the reality that “Christ is in [everyone], but [everyone is] not always Christlike”?
Oh, so many places to go and so much to say. And it’s all leading to crucifixion (and beyond)! (Worst Buzz Lightyear phrase ever.)
What’s your take? Let’s chat in the comments below.