Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV)
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 people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Jesus taught his followers that the day is coming when he will judge every person from every ethnicity on the earth. In his earlier parables, he taught about the need to be ready for the coming judgment. In this parable, he gave his disciples instruction regarding what to expect at the judgment. He described himself as a king sitting on a royal throne. By using this illustration, he let his followers know that he will be the one judging. He then compared this judgment to a shepherd separating a group of sheep from a group of goats. Shepherds would often let sheep and goats graze together for a while and then separate the two. Goats are less insulated and get colder at night than sheep normally would. The two groups were separated so the goats could sleep somewhere warmer than the sheep. After Jesus divides the two groups, he will command those on the right, the sheep, to enter the place they inherited before the foundations of the world. Something inherited is not earned, but given as a gift because of a relationship. Jesus cites the good things the sheep did. He is not saying they earned their entrance into the kingdom, but they lived consistently with their election. This separation was planned before the world even began and is not an afterthought of God. If we belong to Jesus, then we will live like it. It’s our destiny.
What are the good things listed here? Jesus declared that when his followers provided food, drink, and hospitality to strangers, took care of someone’s financial needs, or even visited them when they were sick or imprisoned, he viewed it as if they had done it for him. The sheep wondered when they had done these things for Jesus. Again, they did these things not to earn their salvation, but as a natural result of being saved. Because they loved Jesus, they loved others. If you are a Christian, do you long to love and serve Jesus? Of course you do. God has rewired you from the inside out and made his desires your desires. How can we love and serve him? By loving and serving others who have been made in his image! Let’s choose to see Jesus when we look at other people today. Think of something tangible you can do to minister to someone else, and then do it as if you were doing it for the Lord.