Matt. 25:31-46 “Those
Who Care For The Needy Are Blessed”
& Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 22 Aug. 2013
Greyed-out text was omitted from the original manuscript to keep sermon
delivery under 40 minutes.
25:31 So, whenever the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the
holy angels with Him, then He will sit upon His throne of glory
25:32 and all the nations will be gathered before Him,
and He separates them from one another, just like a shepherd separates
his sheep from his goats,
25:33 and He will stand the sheep off to His right and the goats off to
25:34 Then the King will
say to those off to His right, “Come here, you who have been blessed by my
father! Start inheriting the kingdom prepared for y’all from the foundation of
25:35 for I was hungry, and y’all gave me [something]
I was thirsty, and y’all gave me a drink;
I was a stranger, and y’all gathered me in;
25:36 I was naked, and y’all wrapped me up;
I was sick, and y’all watched over me;
I was in prison, and y’all came to me!”
25:37 Then, in reply, the righteous will say to Him, “Master, when was
it that we saw you being hungry and we provided nourishment or you being
thirsty and we gave drink?
25:38 And when was it that we saw you to be a stranger and we gathered
in, or naked and we threw a wrap around?
25:39 And when was it that we saw you being sick or in prison and came
25:40 And, in answer, the King will say to them, “Really, I’m saying to
y’all, as much as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, it
was to me that you did it.”
25:41 Then he will speak
also to those off to His left, “You who have been cursed, continue to conduct
yourselves away from me into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels,
25:42 for I was hungry, and y’all did not give me
something to eat;
I was thirsty, and y’all did not give me a drink;
25:43 I was a stranger, and y’all did not gather me
I was naked, and you did not wrap me up;
I was sick and in prison, and you did not watch over
25:44 Then they also, in reply, will say, “Master, when was it that we
saw you being hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and
we did not serve you?”
25:45 Then, in answer, He will say to them, “Really, I’m saying to
y’all, as much as you did not do it for one of the least of these, neither did
you do it to me.”
25:46 So as for these,
they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous ones into eternal
This is the last of seven parables Matthew collected from Jesus about
His second coming. Each highlights an aspect of the parousia:
- The Fig Tree – The coming of the Son of Man is
- Analogy of Noah – The second coming involves
judgment which will be devastating to those who are oblivious to its
- The Householder and the Thief – God won’t reveal
the time of the 2nd Coming, so we must be prepared for the
encounter at all times
- The Faithful Steward – We are to be busy serving
the master’s interests when he arrives; Those found not doing so will be
- The 10 Virgins – We must be able to wait a long
time, prepared by the power of the HS to do what God wants; those who are
not (and who don’t repent) will be judged.
- The Talents – We need to use the resources God
has given us actively to develop God’s interests while waiting, not just
sitting on our hands.
- The Sheep and the Goats – What sort of good deeds
should we do while waiting and watching for Christ’s return?
There is an old Russian folktale about
an elderly shoe-maker named Papa Panov. As the story goes, it was close to
Christmas, and he fell asleep during his evening prayer time and had a vision
that Jesus would visit him the next day. So all next day, Papa Panov waited at
his shoe shop in eager expectation for Jesus to walk in through the door.
Throughout the day guests keep stopping by. There was the garbage collector
that Papa Panov served a cup of hot coffee to warm him up for his work in the
winter streets. There was the poor widow who was travelling through the icy
streets to the next town with her child, but her child had no shoes, so Papa
Panov gave them shoes for free. And there was the group of carolers from his
church that he gave cookies to, but it came to the end of the day and Jesus
never appeared. In bitter disappointment, Papa Panov cried out to God that he
had missed Jesus, but then he opened his Bible for his evening quiet time and
read this passage from Matthew 25, “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least
of these my bretheren you have done it unto me,” and he realized that Jesus had
indeed visited him in the form of a garbage collector, a poor widow, and a
group of kids from his church, and he went to sleep that night a happy man, knowing
that Jesus had indeed been served by him through His body.
25:31 So, whenever the Son of Man
shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit upon
His throne of glory
ελθη ‘ο ‘υιος του
ανθρωπου εν τη
δοξη αυτου και
παντες ‘οι ‘αγιοι
- Three quarters of
the ancient Greek uncial manuscripts surveyed by Dr. Aland in the previous
century did not have the word “holy” as an adjective describing “angels,”
so that’s why it’s not in the NIV, NAS, or ESV, but the fact that it’s
there in some of the earliest manuscripts, together with the fact that
Greek Christians for the last thousand years and more have preferred the manuscripts
which included that adjective, I am siding with the KJV here in keeping
- Of course, it
doesn’t affect the meaning, it just makes a clearer distinction between
the “angels” which are holy in relation to God here and the “angels”
mentioned in v. 41, that we’d normally call “demons,” who belong to the
- Anyway, we are once
again looking at a scenario of the “coming” of Christ Jesus, the Son of
Man. This coming is different from His first coming when He came as a poor
baby and was despised and rejected and crucified.
- This coming is with the awesome glory of God
which will make it impossible for anyone to ignore Him and mistake Him
for a normal man.
- This coming will be
with angels. The angels which briefly appeared to the shepherds at His first
coming and which briefly ministered to Him in the Garden of Gethsemane
and which He did not call down to assist Him at the cross will be with
Him in His second coming and remain with Him and be visible to us. No
longer surrounded by a rag-tag band of a dozen fishermen, again, Jesus’
retinue will be unmistakably divine and awesome. Nobody will be able to
dismiss Him as a kook or as unimportant with these angels by His side.
- And His act of being seated at His coming
describes His role as the judge of all mankind. In this future coming, Jesus
will no longer be the gentle, tolerant messenger of God’s patience and
grace, as He was in His first coming. The second coming is to settle
accounts and thoroughly punish every one of His detractors.
25:32 and all the nations will be
gathered before Him, and He separates them from one another, just like a
shepherd separates his sheep from his goats,
αυτου παντα τα
αλληλων ‘ωσπερ ‘ο
25:33 and He will stand the sheep off
to His right and the goats off to the left.
στησει τα μεν
τα δε εριφια εξ
Matt. 13:47-49 “Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like a dragnet
dropped into the lake and gathering [some] from every species. which, when
it gets full, they haul up onto the shore and sit down and gather up the
good ones into pails, but the rotten ones they throw out. It will be this
way during the conclusion of the age: The angels will come out and
demarcate the evil persons out of the middle of the righteous persons” (NAW)
sheep and goats may have come from Ezekiel 34:17ff. (Calvin).
- Making distinctions
is intrinsic to the act of judging. Being a judge means deciding who is
right and who is wrong - or who wins and who loses. Jesus will not be the
tolerant, anything-goes “hippie” that the modern “church” envisions Him to
be. He will be opinionated as to His categories of right and wrong, and He
won’t care what popular opinion is on the matter.
- Last week’s edition
of the Topeka Capitol Journal
mentioned that the Unitarian Universalist
Fellowship and the League of Women Voters were supporting the
discrimination ordinance that the city just passed. Spokespeople were
quoted as saying, that the problem is that lesbians and
transvestites are not “able to be who they are,”
and that instituting LGBT legal protections is the “right thing,” that
time will prove that they were on the right side and that all who do not
support special protections for homosexuals and cross-dressers “stand on
the side of fear, hate, bullying and harassment.” Obviously
these people have opinions, but when Jesus comes back as judge, He’s not
going to consult their opinions; He’s going to act unilaterally – and
frighteningly un-democratically – as the God of the universe and say, “Uh,
no, that’s not what I said…”
- The words here already
begin to paint a picture of dissonance between the flock’s thinking and
the shepherd’s thinking. The sheep and goats are standing before the
shepherd and have sorted themselves into associations as they saw fit.
They have their reasons for clumping together in groups, whether it’s
because they find each other attractive, or maybe the little ones like
standing behind the big ones because they block the wind better. But the
shepherd has a totally different way of organizing his flock in mind. He
wants to separate the sheep from the goats, so He breaks up their little
groups and re-categorizes them according to His plan: Sheep on the right;
goats on the left.
- The allegory should be pretty
clear. When we stand before Jesus during the time of judgment
associated with His coming, we’ll naturally be standing in groups of
nations and families and friends and church memberships and professional
organizations and political parties and interest groups, but Jesus will
break all those human associations apart and just divide us into two
groups: the saved and the lost. Those are the only two groups that will
really matter for eternity. There will be some pulled away from our church
groups and family groups and political parties and sent to the left.
- Jesus, as a personal God, is very different from the
impersonal state which cannot discriminate among persons. Justice is
impartial to all and universally condemns every one of us to hell. But
salvation is personal. Jesus saves those whom He loves, those His father
chose, those who have been made capable of spiritual life by the entrance
of the Holy Spirit into their bodies, those who have come to know and love
Jesus in return and relate to Him as God with all the honor and submission
God deserves. That is not everybody. It is a select few compared to the
total human population, yet still a great multitude once they’re all put together.
- The right hand, in Middle Eastern culture, is the
side of honor and favor and blessing.
Then the King will say to those off to His right, “Come here, you who have been
blessed by my father! Start inheriting the kingdom prepared for y’all from the
foundation of the world,
τοτε ερει ‘ο
του πατρος μου
- I see two reasons
why the Son of Man is called “the King” here:
He has entered fully into His role of kingship now that
He is taking the role of the judge of all the earth.
He is particularly the king of these people represented
as sheep. They have acknowledged that He has authority to tell them what to do
in His word and they have submitted to that authority and honored His
leadership. He recognizes them publicly as
His and calls them to come close to him.
- For those who love the Lord with all their heart,
mind, and soul, the return of Christ will be a very affirming event we can
look forward to. After decades of hearing the world around us tell us we
are cursed and stupid and wrong, God Himself will set the record straight
and say, “Come here, blessed ones!”
- What does it mean to be “Blessed by the Father”?
- The Perfect tense “have been blessed” indicates
an event that happened in previous history which affects the relationship
currently. Ephesians 1, Revelation 17 and John 17 speak of God the Father
choosing us before the foundation of the world, writing our names down in
the Book of Life, and giving us to Jesus.
- “Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with
every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us
to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the
kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace,
which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Eph. 1:3-6, NASB
- “And those who
dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life
from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast…”
Rev 17:8b, NASB
- “I have manifested
Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours
and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word… Father, I desire
that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that
they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before
the foundation of the world. John 17:6&24, NASB
- Do you see that when
God decided to save you and wrote your name in His book before the world
was made, you were marked as a blessed person. God the Father then handed
that book to Jesus the Lamb, and Jesus said, I’ll give my life for these
- Psalm 139 says that God knows you intimately
from the time you were being knit together in your mother’s womb – before
even your mother knew you and loved you.
- And to think that God Himself is at work
preparing a kingdom for us to enjoy forever in eternity… That kind of
personal love from God to us leaves me speechless.
- What does it mean to “Inherit the kingdom”?
“inheritance,” according to Ephesians 5:5, is “in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
1:14 calls the inheritance “salvation”,
in Matt. 19:29, it’s called “eternal life.”
- Jesus said in John
14:3, “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for
you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there
you may be also.” (John 14:2-3, NASB)
is big on preparation. In Matthew 20:23 we learn that not only heaven
itself, but even our place in heaven – whether we are at the right
hand of Jesus or not – is also “prepared” by the Father. And later on in
Matthew 25:41, we see that even hell is a place which was
carefully “prepared” by God.
- Revelation 21:1-7
offers us a description of this kingdom (or, this “city” as Hebrews 11:16
terms it) which Jesus went away to “prepare” for us, “Then I saw a new
heaven and a new earth… And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God… And I heard a loud voice from the throne,
saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell
among them… and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there
will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or
crying, or pain… I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of
the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit
these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (NASB)
- This is “… GOD’S
wisdom… predetermined before the ages for our glory… which God prepared
for those who love Him…” (1 Corinthians 2:7-10, NAW)
- Notice, by the way, that an inheritance
is not something which can be earned. Yes, the sheep on the right
fed the hungry and visited the lonely and all, but their place in the kingdom
which they inherited, had been prepared specifically for them “from the
foundation of the world,” before they had done any of those good
- And yet these people have
brought forth good works in keeping with their status:
25:35 for I was hungry, and y’all
gave me [something] to eat; I was thirsty, and y’all gave me a drink; I was a stranger,
and y’all gathered me in;
ξενος ημην και
25:36 I was naked, and y’all wrapped
me up; I was sick, and y’all watched over me; I was in prison, and y’all came
εν φυλακη ημην
- The Greek words for “food” and “drink” are
generic, not referring to any particular kind of food or drink. “You found
an opportunity to quench somebody’s thirst; you found an opportunity to feed
somebody when they were hungry.”
- We think of little old ladies making cookies for
people as kinda quaint, but from what Jesus is saying here, this kind of
hospitality is dead serious.
- You younger kids,
your parents may not be comfortable with you spending time with hungry,
homeless people at this stage in life, but you can practice on your own
family! Can you prepare lunches or special snacks for them – or even
learn how to cook whole meals for the family? It is a truly Christian
skill to develop!
fact, Moms and Dads, half of the good deeds listed here can be fulfilled
at home: nourishing hungry and thirsty children, keeping them clothed,
and when they get sick, nursing them!
- The Greek word for
“stranger” could mean someone you’ve never met before, but in the Bible it
more generally means someone who is from out of town and therefore does
not have an established job or place to live and may need hospitality and
help understanding the local culture.
- In the Greek Old
Testament, Ruth (2:10) was called a “stranger” because she travelled to Israel from the country of Moab.
- And in Acts 17:18,
the philosophers in Athens, Greece called Paul a “stranger” because he
was from Tarsus.
- In the Mosaic law,
it was an assumption that God’s people would be practicing hospitality to
foreigners, so they were reminded that “the stranger
within thy gates” should also take Sabbath rest (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14)
and be included in forgiveness of sin at the temple sacrifices (Deut.
12:17,18) and have Scripture read to them (Deut. 31:12).
- The Greek word
Jesus uses to describe this kind of hospitality here in Matthew 25, “You welcomed/
invited/ took me in,” is from
the Greek word sunagw, from
which the word “synagogue” comes. It’s a compound word
composed of the preposition sun
which means “together with,” and the verb ago which means “to lead.” “I was a foreigner and you
led me together with you.” The picture here is of assimilation and integration
of an outsider, taken right in to acceptance and love in a new community.
- Once again, this
can be done in the home.
- We might do this
today when we house a friend from out-of-town.
of our families have done this in the form of domestic and even international
adoptions and foster care.
- In a university
town like ours, we have a special opportunity to show hospitality to the
international students who move here from foreign countries and struggle
desperately to understand their English classes and textbooks while
trying to figure out how to get the food, housing, and other necessities
of life taken care of in a strange land to them. The impact that you can
have on an entire nation through one of its future leaders who studies
here is staggering!
- Next, it may be
unusual to see somebody actually naked in everyday life, but the basic
idea behind the word is that of exposure. We’ve probably all seen people with
clothes that were not warm enough, or people who are homeless. Clothing
and Shelter are basic necessities.
- I am so thankful
for all the people who have given my family hand-me-down clothes. That’s
one way we can fulfill this kind of ministry function.
- Christian singer
Michael Card mentions his grandfather in one of his songs as a country
preacher who’d always give his coat away on winter days to someone he
thought needed it more. What an example!
- Extending that to
the idea of shelter: My limited experience with the Manhattan Homeless
Shelter indicates that there are often more people needing shelter than
there are apartments available at the shelter. What can be done about
- Regarding “watching
over” the sick, the Greek word epeskepsasthe
that Jesus uses here isn’t talking about a one-time visit, despite the
fact that most English versions translate the Greek verb “visited.” It’s a
compound of the Greek preposition epi
which means “over” and the Greek verb skopew
which means “to scope out” or “watch,” so it’s translated “oversee” in
other places in the Bible, referring to the responsibility of a “bishop”
or “overseer.” I think the NIV did the best job among the standard English
versions with it’s translation, “you looked after me.”
- Care for the sick has been a time-honored
historical tradition among Christians, hasn’t it? Most hospitals were
started by churches.
- The institutionalization of hospitals over the
last century, which removed them from the direction of their churches, is
now being followed up by the comprehensive oversight of hospitals by the
federal government under the so-called Affordable Care Act which is passing
into law. Is there anything that can be done by Christians to reclaim
their calling of personally caring for the sick?
- Of course, some sickness share in common something
with prison sentences: the loneliness of being shut into a room and cut
off from friends and family. They need to be visited.
- The interesting word regarding prisoners
is the preposition “to,” as in, “you came to me.” It is the Greek
preposition pros which
indicates nearness. In other words, the emphasis in the original
language of this verse is not so much that you visited but that you
were even willing to get near to a prisoner.
- Christians, however are uniquely gifted for
prison ministry: We know that we are just as iky as any criminal in jail
because we are all, in our natural state, sinners in God’s eyes. We don’t
have to pretend that we’re any better than anybody else because we know
that God sees the heart.
- We also know that
God’s grace is so awesome that He can forgive any offense – no sin is too
heinous to forgive. “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all
sin” (1 John 1:7b)
- We also know that Jesus is our all-powerful Great
Shepherd. He can protect us from harm – whatever bad things a convict
might want to do to you. We are safe in Jesus.
- So Christians are armed with all that we need to
be unafraid of prisoners and confident to minister to them.
Of course, this kind of ministry requires careful wisdom, but God
says He’ll give us that when we ask, too! (James 1:2ff)
- By the way, there’s a workshop October 12 for
training people to help Kansas convicts transition back to regular life
after their prison sentence is fulfilled. I’ll publish details in the next church newsletter.
- These are just basic Biblical standards for
godly living, but the sheep in the story appear somewhat surprised:
25:37 Then, in reply, the righteous
will say to Him, “Master, when was it that we saw you being hungry and we
provided nourishment or you being thirsty and we gave drink?
25:38 And when was it that we saw you
to be a stranger and we gathered in, or naked and we threw a wrap around?
Ποτε δε σε
ειδομεν ξενον και
25:39 And when was it that we saw you
being sick or in prison and came to you?”
ποτε δε σε
η εν φυλακη και
- These people are called “righteous” or
- The basic meaning of this word dikaios is that the person is
“right” with God.
- The fact that they
have been called to the King’s right hand and welcomed into the king’s
inheritance is the proof that these people are “right” or righteous with
- So how did they become righteous? The
only reason recorded here in Matt. 25 is that they did kind things to the
King, but the rest of the Bible explains a lot more about justification –
or how to be right with God. Here in Matthew 25, only one point is being
emphasized about righteousness, but that doesn’t mean that all the other
components of righteousness described elsewhere in the Bible are
- Matt. 9:13b Jesus says, “I didn’t come to call
righteous people but rather sinful people!” So “righteous” can’t mean
that you’ve never sinned.
- In Matthew 13:43,
the word “righteous” is used to describe the wheat sown by the master as
opposed to the weeds sown by the enemy; it had everything to do with
where they came from and what they were, not what they did. In the parable of the Wheat
and the Weeds, their works were not the main point like they are here in
- It all comes together when you consider the way
the word “righteous” is used in Matt. 27:4 and 19. In chapter 27, Jesus
is being called “righteous” because He never did anything wrong to put
Himself out of right standing with God, yet in that same chapter we see
Jesus put to death and cursed as though He had done something terribly
- The Apostle Paul
explained in the book of Romans: “for all have sinned and fall short of
the glory of God, being justified [made right] as a gift by His grace
through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed
publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to
demonstrate His righteousness… so that He would be just and the justifier
of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-26, NASB)
punishing Jesus on the cross with the punishment His people deserve for
their sins which ruined their right standing with God in the first place,
God proves Himself just and fair when He takes sinful people who are
trusting Jesus to make them right with God and He declares that they are
indeed right with Him. 1Jn
1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1Pe 3:18 For Christ also died for
sins once for all, the just
for the unjust, so that He
might bring us to God,
- So that’s who the righteous are.
- Now, when they raise their puzzled question in
response to the king, the “you” is in an emphatic position, as though they
remembered doing some of these good deeds, but couldn’t recall ever helping
this King. So He explains:
25:40 And, in answer, the King will
say to them, “Really, I’m saying to y’all, as much as you did it [to
the extent that you did itNAS] for
one of the least of these brothers of mine, it was to me that you did it.”
ερει αυτοις Αμην
λεγω ‘υμιν εφ’ ‘οσον
- The righteous say, “Really, You?” and the King
answers with the word “me” in an emphatic position, “Verily/Assuredly/Truly
- The phrase “these brothers of mine” is amazing:
- Who could He be referring to but the sheep
who are going to share His inheritance when He says “these”?
- And who are the brothers of this grand
and glorious King? The sheep!
- What amazing humility Jesus takes on to call us
His siblings instead of His subjects. What love He must have to bring us
into His household that close to Himself!
- This indicates to us
where to begin in ministering mercy – with other Christians!
- Galatians 6:10 So
then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and
especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
- Now, I don’t think Jesus is saying that kind
deeds done for Non-Christians don’t count, but I do think
this indicates that it should be normative for us to minister in these
ways to our fellow-Christians.
- Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:50 “For
whoever did the will of my Father in the heavens, that one is my brother
and sister and mother.” (NAW) What of those who do not do the will of God?
he will speak also to those off to His left, “You who have been cursed, continue
to conduct yourselves away from me into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil
and his angels,
και τοις εξ
απ’ εμου ‘οι
το πυρ το
τω διαβολω και
sheep on the right are called “righteous,” but the goats on the left are
called “cursed.” The Greek word has to do with being prayed
against. Mark (11:21) uses this same word “cursed” to describe what Jesus
did to the fig tree that didn’t bear fruit.
- The command that the King gives is in the Greek
Present tense which generally indicates the addressee is already doing the
action and is to continue doing it, and it is from the root poreuomai, which generally indicates
forward motion, not so much departure. My interprettation is that the
judgment of these goats is to have to continue in the direction they have
been headed all along, and that is to keep going away from Jesus and keep going
down that broad road that leads to destruction – the lake of fire where
God has planned to sequester all who rebel against His kingship.
- This fire is eternal. It is not a
temporary purgatory. This is frighteningly final and unending.
25:42 for I was hungry, and y’all did
not give me something to eat; I was thirsty, and y’all did not give me a drink;
επεινασα γαρ και ουκ εδωκατε μοι φαγειν εδιψησα και ουκ εποτισατε με
25:43 I was a stranger, and y’all did
not gather me in; I was naked, and you did not wrap me up; I was sick and in
prison, and you did not watch over me.”
ξενος ημην και ου
ασθενης και εν
φυλακη και ουκ
- If we live in a country where the government uses
our taxes to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, integrate the
disenfranchised ethnicities, provide healthcare for the sick, and take
care of the 1.5 million people in prison in our country,
does that absolve us of the responsibility of doing these things
- Absolutely not. Just because a civil government encroaches
past its God-given role of punishing evil and starts taking on additional
roles which God gave to the church and the family does not mean that the
church and the family should step back and let the civil government take
- When Jesus comes back, He is telling us that He
will expect that we actually did at least some of these things – feed a
hungry person, house an out-of-town guest or even homeless person, care
for a sick person, visit a prisoner.
25:44 Then they also, in reply, will
say, “Master, when was it that we saw you being hungry or thirsty or a stranger
or naked or sick or in prison and we did not serve you?”
ξενον η γυμνον
η ασθενη η εν
φυλακη και ου
- These goats ask the same question that the sheep
did – almost word-for-word, but they are coming at it from a different
angle. These people on the Left have never done these kind of deeds for
anybody, or if they have, it was for a high-profile celebrity that they
could get positive media coverage for; but really it wasn’t their habit to
inconvenience themselves serving dirty, poor, needy people.
- They figured that if the Messiah ever did come
along, they would be sure to do some magnimanious deed to honor Him, but
they never saw Him around, so they filled the meantime with
self-indulgence. So when they ask, “Really, you?” They’re saying, “Wait,
you didn’t really have needs like that, did you? I mean, I was looking out
for you and all; I did everything right. That’s not fair!”
25:45 Then, in answer, He will say to
them, “Really, I’m saying to y’all, as much as you did not do it for one of the
least of these, neither did you do it to me.”
αυτοις λεγων Αμην
λεγω ‘υμιν εφ’ ‘οσον
ουκ εποιησατε ‘ενι
- Jesus taught His
disciples that “…whoever among y’all wants to become great will be your
servant…” and He lived out His life as an example of this for us: “In this
way the Son of Man did not come in order to be served, but rather in order
to serve and to give His soul to be a ransom in the place of many.”
(Matthew 20:26b-28, NAW)
- If you ever had to
be on trial for whether or not you are a Christian, would the evidence be
clear enough to convict you?
these goats, there is no evidence of Christianity to marshal. They stand
- Serving others is
not in the DNA of the natural man, while it is part of the DNA of the
Spirit of God. These folks are not wheat planted by the Lord with the
spiritual DNA, they are weeds with the DNA of the Evil One.
- For those who do not
have a track record of service along these lines, it is legitimate to ask,
“Am I really a follower of Christ?” Ask Jesus to make you right with God
and He will.
25:46 So as for these, they will go
away into eternal punishment, but the righteous ones into eternal life!
αιωνιον ‘οι δε
- Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty,
taking in the stranger, clothing the exposed, caring for the sick, and
visiting the prisoner. These things are typical of what followers of Jesus
do. Jesus uses them as proof that they are His sheep.
- To these six actions many more could be added
from the rest of scripture, so I don’t think this is an exhaustive
list, but a representative list of the kinds of gracious
things Christians can do as we wait for Jesus to return.
- These things are consistent with what God said
through the Prophets and Apostles about what His kingdom-people should do:
- Isaiah 58:5-7 “Is
it like this that a fast is … to bow his head like a reed and to
throw down sackcloth and dust? … Isn’t it this – a fast I choose:
to open the manacles of evil, to spring the bindings of the yoke and to
send forth the oppressed [as] freemen, and tear off every yoke? Isn’t it
to split your bread for the hungry, and bring home the poor vagabonds?
and when you see a naked man you cover him and not hide yourself from
your flesh?” (NAW)
- “But the man who
shall be just … shall not oppress any man, but shall return the pledge of
the debtor, and shall be guilty of no plunder, shall give his bread to
the hungry, and clothe the naked; and shall not lend his money upon
usury, and shall not receive usurious increase, and shall turn back his
hand from injustice, shall execute righteous judgment between a man and
his neighbor, and has walked in my commandments and kept mine ordinances,
to do them; he is righteous, he shall surely live, saith the Lord.”
(Ezekiel 18:5-9, Brenton)
- And, it’s in the New Testament
too, such as the last chapter of Hebrews “Therefore, since
we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by
which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence… Let love
of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to
strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated...”
(Heb. 12:28-13:3, NASB)
- Let us therefore practice these acts of kindness
so that they characterize us, for these are the kinds of things Jesus
wants to find us doing when He returns!