“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
Who Is My Neighbor
The judgment scene of Matthew 25 is overpowering. In clear details the Lord opens the book on the plans of His Father for the judging of all men. The throne scene with all the nations gathered before Him is awesome. Divided like sheep and goats all mankind is put into a group of saved and a group of lost. On the right side are the humble sheep who will hear the immortal words of “come you blessed of my Father.” Trembling in fear those on the left as defiant goats will be pierced with the trumpet of “depart from Me, you cursed.” No one reading this scene will be able to miss the immediate feeling of awe as all those who have lived since Adam until the day the Lord returns will be gathered in mass in one place before a throne of judgment.
It is easy to read this text with the message of the judgment lingering in our thoughts and miss the whole point of the text. This passage is a scene of judgment. But the separation of sheep and goats is not based on whether a person has been baptized into Christ or not. It is not whether they believe in God or His Son. A parting of sheep and goats will not be based upon how faithful a disciple has been in attendance, prayer, knowledge of the Bible or singing the right songs. Matthew 25 – the vivid portrait of judgment – is based upon our relationship with others. Everything we have just mentioned is important and necessary but that is not the text of this passage. Jesus tells His disciples that benevolence or care for others is the reason for salvation or damnation.
This passage is a strong message from the Father about how we are to treat others. If we are like the Priest and Levite in the story of the Samaritan then we will not find salvation. Isn’t that an amazing story from Jesus? Of all the things we think about in the judgment what Jesus talks about here is seldom pointed out – yet it is the main thrust of the message. So what can we do to help others this week? Notice in the text that it is more about what we are doing than what we are saying. Read the text again and take note of those who did – and those who did not. Let’s be those who are doers of the word showing our faith by our works. It is that important.
The love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self. (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, 1st Series, 1869)