From the Word
31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats
Matthew 25:31–32, RSV
Had it not been told us we should be inqusitive beyond measure to know what would happen on the last day, and what Jesus would say and do on that day. Here we are now told of and have set before us, first of all, death, which no one can escape; but after that the day of judgment. Then it will come to pass that Christ will bring together by means of the resurrection all who have ever lived upon earth; and at the same time he will descend in inexpressible majesty, sitting upon the throne of judgment, with all the heavenly host hovering around him; and all the good and bad will appear, so that we shall all stand exposed before him and no one will be able to conceal himself.
The appearance of this glory and majesty will immediately become a great terror and pain to the condemned, lest they shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might. Even if there were no more than a single angel present, there would not remain in his presence one fickle, wicked conscience, were it possible to escape, any more than a thief and a rascal can bear to come before a human judge. If he could escape he would much prefer it, if only for the purpose of escaping public disgrace, to say nothing of his being compelled to hear the judgment passed upon him.
What a terrible sight it will be, when the ungodly shall see not only all of God’s angels and creatures, but also the Judge in his divine majesty, and shall hear the verdict of eternal destruction and hell-fire pronounced upon them forever. This should surely be a powerful admonition for us to live as Christians, so that we may stand in honor and without fear at the right hand of this majestic Lord, where there will be no fear, nor terror, but pure comfort and everlasting joy. Whoever is not moved and aroused by these words can certainly never be moved by anything.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 412–13.