May 28 - Sheep and Goats

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Matthew 25:31-46

Though we find the Son of Man on his throne separating people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats in this passage; one of the things we recognize immediately is that Jesus is telling us how to live as Christians in the world.

Those who will inherit the kingdom responded to the King.  “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36).

Jesus gives us the response of the righteous as they asked when they did those things.  That is so telling.  Those who will inherit the kingdom of God did those things without thought. It was part of who they were.  It never occurred to them that the wonderful things they did for others would get them anything at all.

But, the Lord recognized the heart of each of those people and said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40b).

Now, those who had refused to do those things during their lifetime were sent into eternal punishment, while the others arrived into eternal life with the Father.

Just as Jesus transformed the commandments of the Law into two short commands – Love God / Love Others – and ensured that we recognized the importance of following God’s commands because it is within our hearts to do so; he transformed acts of mercy.  For the Jews of his time, performing an act of mercy was a task that had to be done in order to be a good Jew.  Jesus wanted his listeners to know that caring for others, when it came from the heart and not the head was important.

Love God / Love others.