Sermon by Rev. Shearer
Christ the King • November 22, 2020
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 • Psalm 100 • Ephesians 1:15-23 • Matthew 25:31-46
In the Name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their
scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep.” God speaks this to
Ezekiel, the Prophet, and Ezekiel passes the Word on to us. This is
the work of a prophet—not so much to tell the future as to listen
for God to speak, and then to tell us what God has said.
So we are like sheep scattered on the hillside! This is not very
complementary description of us humans. But Ezekiel knew sheep
and he watched human behavior, and the similarity was
I once had a parishioner who had a flock of sheep. She said they
were scatter-brained critters, subject to easy panic attacks, who
when frightened would run off in all directions. When they ran,
they might easily run off a cliff, or run so long that they contracted
pneumonia. They couldn’t even find water or pasture by
themselves, needing a shepherd and perhaps a sheepdog to lead
them to it.
Doesn’t this sound like a divided and confused America? We are
easily subject to panic and to division; we easily believe the
misinformation spread upon the Internet; we have trouble
following the leader, yet we yearn for a savior. We don’t do a very
good job of extending America’s extraordinary prosperity to all our
citizens, much less the rest of God’s world. We are like sheep
scattered on a hillside.
But the promise is what is important. “I will set over them one
shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them and be their
shepherd.” David, by the time of Ezekiel, was a synonym for king,
similar to Caesar becoming a synonym for emperor—a personal
name becoming a general word for a leader. This is a promise of a
David, of a Messiah, a Christ, one who will reign over the people
with justice and who would bring prosperity and peace.
In today’s Gospel Lesson, Jesus says, “When the Son of Man
comes in his glory….” Son of Man? Who is this? Jesus never calls
himself the Messiah, the new David. Rather he calls himself son of
man which, in his native tongue, Aramaic, is the equivalent of
human being. It could equally be daughter of woman. He did not object
when Peter called him Messiah, but he did not call himself by that
It seems to me that I’ve given you too many titles and names to
cope with—too complex for any use. I apologize for confusing
things. It really is much simpler than I have made it.
The savior of the world has many names and titles in the Bible, but
they all point to one person. David the king, Messiah the savior,
Christ the anointed one—they all refer to the same person, and
that person is the one that Jesus called the Son of Man, the human
I think Jesus meant something special by this term, son of man.
He meant the whole and complete human being, the authentic
human who is without fault or blemish. He meant the righteous
human who completely and fully loves and cares for his fellow
Who can measure up to this standard? Jesus, of course, who was
without sin. But who else in the fraught history of human beings,
who else? Not one that I could name, and certainly no one of my
acquaintance—including the man sitting in my chair.
Unless—unless by some miracle we could be made whole. Unless
we could be forgiven our faults and errors, our headstrong self-
centeredness. Unless we could be restored to our authentic
character as the children of God.
So it is a miracle that, whatever our fallen condition, we have been
made new beings, cleansed of the past and restored to full
membership in God’s family. Not once for all time, but again and
again as we stumble and are forgiven, as we fail and are restored.
And we then are allowed to reign with Jesus as fellow Messiahs,
brother and sister human beings who, when “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.”
My brothers and sisters, I appeal to you to acknowledge your
brokenness and confess your sins. I invite you to accept the
forgiveness of God and your fellow human beings. And then you
can take your place with Christ the King as one who serves, saving
the world, one person at a time.