You may have never heard of Thanos. He is an imaginary character in the modern “Avengers” movie services of the “Marvel Movies”. This character is portrayed as a mighty war lord of the galaxies, who has plans to bring order to the universe by killing off half of all living things, people included. In the final movie of the series, Thanos has to be brutally attacked and conquered by force to stop his evil plan. I won’t spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but it is enough to say that as self-proclaimed “King of the Universe” Thanos does a lot of killing.
Each year, before we take up Advent and Christmas, the Christian Churches bring the “Church Year” to an end with “Christ the King Sunday”. The traditional Gospel reading for this Sunday, is Matthew 25:31-46, commonly called the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. This is the story that Jesus told about the end of all things where the king talks to those before him, who are divided into two groups – the sheep and the goats.
What is so surprising and very unexpected about the two groups before the King, is that the imagery is all about serving. The one side, “the sheep” are caught up in service to others, which the King declares is actually service to him. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is a world of serving where the people of God minister to the needs of people. It is also the King’s guarantee that his intention towards you and me is to serve, not to destroy.
In Matthew’s Gospel, this parable of the “sheep and the goats” is the last parable that our Lord tells before he is arrested, tried and crucified. So the parable invites us to think of the cross of Calvary as the supreme work of service in this “Kingdom of God.” King Jesus will be crucified to serve us through the work of the great exchange. He will take upon himself, our sin, and will freely exchange with us, his righteousness that we would have peace with God.
King Jesus does not descend with an army of Angels to destroy. Rather, he rises from the quiet of his Easter tomb to transform the world forever, as he leads us into a new hope-filled way. He will serve us and by faith, we will serve him in our service of one another and of the people of the world.
It is no co-incidence that a defining feature of the Christian Church, which was established by “King Jesus” and has spread throughout the world in his name, is the development of the work of charity, caring for the needy and the disempowered. This outward expression of our service of “King Jesus” is universal, wherever the Church has been planted.
“for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25)
God bless your participation in the work of care of the Church of King Jesus throughout the world.