Reflection for OS33, Sunday November 15 2020 Judgement and the Second Coming

Epistle and Gospel readings – 1Thess 5.1-11 & Matthew 25.14-30

The readings for the Sundays leading up to Advent emphasise the reality of judgement and its association with the Parousia or Second Coming. Jesus told the Parable of the Talents to warn Christians of the danger of nervous complacency and inaction in the service of the Kingdom of God. At His First Coming Jesus ushered in His Kingdom and Mark 1.15 says ‘Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God that the time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe in the Gospel. So we have been warned.

Today’s Gospel of the Talents reminds us that we are required to use our wealth in the service of the Kingdom. The parable can also be applied to our use of our gifts and skills. We lay all these various talents at the feet of Jesus. The Gospel reading for next Sunday carries straight on from this Sunday’s reading – it gives us a picture of the judgement and a warning that we are answerable to God for the way we treat others.

In today’s epistle passage (1Thess 5.1-11) Paul answers the Thessalonians’ question about when the judgement will take place. His answer is that we are not meant to know times and seasons; they remain a mystery. When we worship we lift up ourselves in wonder at the greatness of God and the mystery of His divine purposes. If we knew everything about God faith would disappear, and trust and love. Love and mystery go together. We know that God is perfectly just and understanding.

The OT is full of judgement and many of the prophetic ideas carry over into the NT teaching. Look up your Bible at Amos chapter 5 – a famous chapter about justice and judgement. Compare what is said by Amos with the picture of the judgement at Matthew 25.14-46. Both these passages employ picture language and imagery. We find some of the imagery about judgement difficult and the reason for this is that much of the OT imagery gets imported into the NT and reapplied to the witness and teaching of Jesus.

Reverend Dr Calum Gilmour

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