Matthew 25: 31-46
Jesus said to his disciples. “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’
“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because – I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me – you failed to do it to me.’
“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
Today Jesus is talking with his disciples about the future: the time when the “Son of Man will come in glory.” He is telling them that everyone on earth will be gathered together and He will separate the peoples, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep will have a privileged place on his right hand and the goats will be on his left.
To the sheep, Jesus will affirm their care and concern for the poor, the lost and all those in need. These individuals were compassionate, they fed the hungry, quenched the thirst of the thirsty, clothed the naked and helped others in a multitude of physical and spiritual ways. However, the people listening to Jesus were confused. They knew that they had not “clothed” Jesus, nor had they quenched his thirst. What was he talking about? However, as we know, Jesus is instructing them that whatever goodness and kindness they do for the people around them, they also do for Him.
The “goats” then begin to complain (or make excuses) to Jesus. They tell him that they had not had the opportunity to serve Him in this way. Jesus bluntly tells them that they were not concerned with the people who were in need. They did not clothe them nor feed them nor minister to them. They simply ignored them!
Jesus makes it clear that what we do or do not do for others is a significant determining factor for our future. In a real sense, we are the ones who make the choice about our future. We have the power to choose to help others or to ignore them and their needs.
If we choose to help others, hopefully it is not simply because we want to be with Jesus in heaven. Hopefully our desire to help others flows from our concern for them and perhaps also our gratitude for the times when someone else helped us. Hopefully, we desire to pass on this blessing to others!
As we go through our day today, may we be attentive to the times when another could use a helping hand. Or perhaps we can simply spend time with someone who is lonely or down. There are people in need all around us! The question is: will we see them and reach out to them? Who knows? Someone may reach out to us today and bless us!