Posted by: mattcolvin | January 23, 2012

The Judgment in Matthew 25


Monday of the third week after Epiphany: Matthew 25:31-44.

This is the scene of the Judgment when Christ comes “in His glory” and sits on the throne of His glory.” It seems to me that this translation, though literal, is misleading. Jesus does not mean that He will be enthroned just before the Judgment, as though that were the moment when He became king. Rather, if I may use a Roman metaphor, that is the moment when He will sit on His curule chair, to do judgment in an official capacity. It signals not a change in Christ’s office or glory, but a change in His activity, and the opening of the final assize.

The judgment is “according to works”, as several Protestant confessions put it. Some have tried to say that this means that Jesus is looking for good works the way a woman looks at the indicator line on a pregnancy test: it doesn’t make her pregnant, it isn’t the cause of her pregnancy, it is simply a concomitant of something else, and it is that something else that really matters.

But Jesus’ whole point in this passage is to break down that hard distinction between our relation to Christ the Head of the Church, and our relation to the members of His body: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Love for those who bear Christ’s name is loyalty to Christ.

Faith is not like human chorionic gonadotropin, an invisible thing that might occasionally manifest itself by works as concomitant indicators. No, Jesus wants us to be busy about loving our brothers, because that is love toward Christ. Faith without works is not faith at all.

So walk worthy. It matters.

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Responses

  1. It looks like Hosanna is walking worthy, backwards. : )

  2. Via FB, my friend Lue-Yee Tsang points me to Davenant expressing the same position against the Roman Catholic Bellarmine:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ur0MAAAAIAAJ&pg=314#v=onepage&q&f=false


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