Last Sunday of the Church Year – A (Proper 29) LSB #’s 621, 508:1-4; 508:5-7
Text – Matthew 25:46
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
A GOLDILOCKS’ WORLD
Once upon a time there were three Bears, who lived together in a house of their own, in a wood. One of them was a Little Wee Bear, & one was a Middle-sized Bear, & the other was a Great Big Bear. They had each a bowl for their porridge; a little bowl for the Little Wee Bear; & a middle-sized bowl for the Middle-sized Bear; & a great bowl for the Great Big Bear.
And they had each a chair to sit in; a little chair for the Little Wee Bear; & a middle-sized chair for the Middle-sized Bear; & a great chair for the Great Big Bear. And they had each a bed to sleep in; a little bed for the Little Wee Bear; & a middle-sized bed for the Middle-sized Bear; & a great bed for the Great Big Bear.
One day, after they had made the porridge for their breakfast, & poured it into their bowls, they walked out into the wood while the porridge was cooling, that they might not burn their mouths by beginning too soon, for they were polite, well-brought-up Bears.
And while they were away a little girl called Goldilocks, who lived at the other side of the wood & had been sent on an errand by her mother, passed by the house, & looked in at the window. And then she peeped in at the keyhole, for she was not at all a well-brought-up little girl. Then seeing nobody in the house she lifted the latch.
The door was not fastened, because the Bears were good Bears, who did nobody any harm, & never suspected that anybody would harm them. So Goldilocks opened the door & went in; & well pleased was she when she saw the porridge on the table.
If she had been a well-brought-up little girl she would have waited till the Bears came home, & then, perhaps, they would have asked her to breakfast; for they were good Bears – a little rough or so, as the manner of Bears is, but for all that very good-natured & hospitable. But she was an impudent, rude little girl, & so she set about helping herself. First she tasted the porridge of the Great Big Bear, & that was too hot for her. Next she tasted the porridge of the Middle-sized Bear, but that was too cold for her.
And then she went to the porridge of the Little Wee Bear, & tasted it, & that was neither too hot nor too cold, but just right, & she liked it so well that she ate it all up, every bit! Then Goldilocks, who was tired, for she had been catching butterflies instead of running on her errand, sat down in the chair of the Great Big Bear, but that was too hard for her.
Then she sat down in the chair of the Middle-sized Bear, & that was too soft for her. But when she sat in the chair of the Little Wee Bear, that was neither too hard nor too soft, but just right. She seated herself in it, & there she sat till the bottom of the chair came out, & down she came, plump upon the ground; & that made her very cross, for she was a bad-tempered little girl.
Now, being determined to rest, Goldilocks went upstairs into the bedchamber in which the Three Bears slept. And first she lay down upon the bed of the Great Big Bear, but that was too high at the head for her. And next she lay down upon the bed of the Middle-sized Bear, & that was too high at the foot for her.
And then she lay down upon the bed of the Little Wee Bear, & that was neither too high at the head nor at the foot, but just right. So she covered herself up comfortably, & lay there till she fell fast asleep. On a cold winter day like we have this morning, covering up in a bed that is just right could make a few of us fall asleep for sure.
All people – believers & unbelievers – are searching & longing for things to be just right in our lives. The heavenly Creator is well aware of that & He longs for things to be just right in our lives as well. Goldilocks goes about that search in ways that are improper & disrespectful while the three bears hold up the ideals & mores of a polite society. As you & I search for things to be just right, evidence is everywhere that we are not very good at it. Like Goldilocks, we have left a long trail of it.
When the Little Wee Bear came to look at his bed, there was the bolster in its place! And the pillow was in its place upon the bolster! And upon the pillow—–? There was Goldilocks’s yellow head – which was not in its place, for she had no business there. “Somebody has been lying in my bed – & here she is still!” said the Little Wee Bear in his little wee voice.
But when she heard the little wee voice of the Little Wee Bear, it was so sharp, & so shrill, that it awakened her at once. Up she started, & when she saw the Three Bears on one side of the bed, she tumbled herself out at the other, & ran to the window.
Naughty, frightened little Goldilocks jumped; & whether she broke her neck in the fall, or ran into the wood & was lost there, or found her way out of the wood & got whipped for being a bad girl & playing truant, no one can say. To an otherwise cute little fairy tale, that’s a rather jarring end. For unbelievers, the gospel reading from Matthew has a jarring end as well:
“And these will go away into eternal punishment…” This Last Sunday of the Church Year, like the two Sundays prior, has judgment as its theme. It’s meant to make your sinful nature uncomfortable, yet the goal is to reassure your saintly nature at the same time. God is not interested in providing us with some fairy tale salvation.
Because you & I are so corrupted by sin, only the truth about our total depravity can give us the proper context to accurately appreciate the salvation Jesus won for you & for me on the cross. Like Goldilocks, the 1st impulse of our sinful nature is to run away from God rather than to repent & run to Him. For that reason, our rescue needs to be rock solid.
Someone had to come in from outside of ourselves, someone who could see the problem
& be willing to do what was necessary to save us. Since Jesus has accomplished His work on earth, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, & all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, & He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-32 ESV)
For those who have not placed their trust in Jesus, that day will be terrible. All their sin will be exposed for everyone to see. Those who do trust Jesus to rescue them, are no better than those who do not. However, the faith God gave to us in His salvation plan shelters us in the Father’s almighty arms. Christ’s robe of righteousness covers up our sin completely.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” (Matthew 25:34 ESV) All the effects of sin will be gone. Those who believe Jesus will have a new body created in righteousness & holiness that will never again suffer or be degraded or insufficient in any way.
Everything will be just right! All creation is looking for a time & place where every-thing is just right. If we’re looking for that here on earth we are searching for a fairytale world. No matter how we work at it, our heavenly Creator knows that cannot last. The harsh reality of sin has forever broken the 1st creation. The evidence of mankind’s failures should be clear.
The almighty Father wants us to have so much more than a Goldilocks’ world. Even after the fall into sin, He continued to create human beings, you & me included, for the express purpose of placing us into paradise with Him, for all eternity. There, the talents & abilities given to each of us by God, will be developed & used to their fullest & most glorious extant.
Porridge will never be too hot or too cold. Chairs will never be too hard or too soft. Doctors, lawyers & police officers will be out of business. As this church year draws to a close, we know not when the end will come, but turning back to the One who will bring that end, next Sunday we begin a new church year. The season of Advent is also one of repentance but without the focus on Judgment Day. Now we lock our eyes upon Christ, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. Everything that’s going on in Ukraine & the Middle East will be paid for. All the corruption of governments everywhere will be paid for.
All of our failures, bitterness & sin will be wiped clean. Our illnesses & limitations will be gone. In heaven, we’ll be perfectly what our Lord created us to be. No more longing for a better time & place where everything will be just right. In the meantime, Jesus is working through sinners like us, in His church, to rescue other sinners from this broken world.
About this sermon, people may say, “Fairy tales are for children.” However, a key to our salvation is the recognition that all of us, young & old, are still children of God, stubborn & selfish children at that. Only the truth about our total depravity can give us the proper context to accurately appreciate the price Jesus paid for you & for me on the cross.
Like Goldilocks, the 1st impulse of our sinful nature is to run away from God rather than to repent & run to Him. For that reason, our rescue needs to be rock solid. For that reason, God had to accomplish every bit of our salvation by Himself. For that reason He sent His only Son to take on human flesh so that He could live the life we did not, & pay for the life we did live.
Our sinful nature is so strong, so corrupt, that there is no other way for us to be righteous than for God to declare us so. And He makes that declaration based upon the righteousness of His Son that He places upon you & me as a gift, free & clear. Yahweh has promised us a Goldilocks world if we only trust & wait for Jesus to return. Amen.
The final trumpet then shall sound & all the earth be shaken, & all who rest beneath the ground shall from their sleep awaken. But all who live will in that hour, by God’s almighty, boundless power, be changed at His commanding. O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation; we often tremble on our way in fear & tribulation O hear & grant our fervent plea: Come, mighty judge, & set us free from death & every evil. Amen. LSB 508:2, 7.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet