July 17, 2019
Matthew 25:31-46 New Living Translation (NLT)
Do you see yourself as a person who is prepared for uncertainties? For example, we are in the midst of hurricane season. Do you have a plan in place? Every time a hurricane heads toward Florida, I am grateful for the weather warning. We may not know what to fully expect from the storm, but we are guided to prepare for our safety in the midst of it. Whenever an evacuation warning is given, there are still people in the path of danger who mocked the storm and refuse to leave their “stuff.” Those can be life or death decisions. To be told of the danger and still make a decision not to prepare oneself by seeking a safe place is truly foolish.
In our passage today, Jesus is teaching those listening about the Final Judgment; when every person from every nation will stand trial before him—the Righteous King. He warns people that the event is coming and he calls them to prepare for it. This event brings a life or death sentence; we have all sinned so we deserve God’s storm of judgment. We don’t deserve it, but we need mercy. God has given humanity the merciful opportunity to accept the work of Messiah on the cross, as well as to be born of the Spirit—these are the essentials for forgiveness and God has offered humanity them both as Gifts. In Jesus’ lesson, the returning Son of Man takes everyone by surprise; those who are preparing for him, as well as those who are not. So, we must remain alert. Otherwise, we will live foolishly during the approach of a very dangerous event: when God separates humanity into two groups—-the sheep (wise) and the goats (foolish). The sheep have followed the Voice of God and even though they have not understood everything, they have walked in a way that pleases God: loving God (by accepting the indwelling Word) and loving others. The goats are foolish and have sinned in two ways: the sin of omission (neglecting the needs of others) and the sin of commission (rejecting the saving Word). Jesus wants to be the Lord of our lives; we must submit to the work of the Spirit who calls us to obey the Word of Love. This is what it means to be prepared!
Matthew 25, 31-46 The Final Judgment
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his 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 creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Prayer: Lord, no one knows fully what you have planned for those who love you, as well as those who reject you. All I know is I want my heart to be ready, as well as make ready the hearts of those whom you have given me to love. Holy Spirit, help me to live in a selfless way; to help others and to draw people toward the truth so they can prepare. In Jesus’ name. Amen.