Summary: How the church is to be a growing and caring family.
God has intended the Christian community to be a growing family characterized by sharing and fellowship. The churches love however, should never stop flowing here. Although we are to keep a constant eye on the needs of their fellow members, they are equally concerned with loving and serving the whole community around them. As Christians we need to come to the realization that salvation is not an isolated vertical relationship strictly between us and God. Our fellowship should embrace God, self and others. When Jesus was asked to summarize the Old Testament into the greatest commandment of all, He did so with a commandment in two parts: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) Love for God could not be separated from love for your neighbor. Salvation has social implications. Jesus made this general principle come to life on two occasions. In the first one a lawyer stood up and decided to put Jesus to the test by asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer gave the great twofold commandment as his answer. When Jesus assured him that this was the correct answer he then asks his famous loophole question, “But who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus told His parable of the Good Samaritan forcing the lawyer to admit that the one who helped the robbery victim was the true neighbor. Our text records Jesus’ vision of the end times. Here two He surprisingly links social concern with personal salvation. “When the Son of Man comes in all His glory,” He tells His followers; all the nations of the earth will be gathered before Him for judgment. The criteria He will use for judgment at that time will not be doctrinal purity or strict adherence to preset group of religious rituals, but unselfish love and concern for others. Today let’s take a close look at how the Lord has intended His church to be a caring community.
I. Jesus presents a metaphor around which He builds His message about judgment and salvation.
A. This so called parable of the sheep and goats really isn’t a parable at all.
1. Its only parabolic elements are the shepherd, the sheep, the goats, and the actual separation.
2. Jesus uses this imagery to present a powerful message about judgment, responsibility and salvation.
B. The scene opens with the enthroned Son of Man sitting in heavenly glory to execute judgment over all the nations
1. This verse pictures Jesus coming not as a humble carpenter from Nazareth but as the glorified Son of God.
2. Can you imagine how spectacular this sight will be Jesus sitting on His throne accompanied by angels in all of His glory?
3. The administration of the judgment of the great day is committed to the Son of man; for by him God will judge the world.
4. This event signals the great judgment scene that follows, in which Jesus as the Son of Man functions as judge—a role restricted to Yahweh in the OT.
C. Jesus uses the picture of sheep and goats to picture the separation between believers and unbelievers.
1. In the countryside sheep and goats mingled during the day. At night they were often separated: sheep tolerate the cool air, but goats have to be herded together for warmth.
2. "All the nations" the Greek phrase used is panta ta ethne which means "all peoples" and clearly implies that "all the nations" includes more than Gentiles only.
3. Some are sheep and some are goats; they are separated from each other into two groups as a setting for the bestowing of reward and later judgment.
4. This once again reinforces the fact that each person is responsible for their own salvation.
5. The reader now learns that the sheep who were separated to the right were representative of those individuals blessed by God to enjoy the consummation of the blessings of the kingdom. To “inherit the kingdom” is to share in the blessings of God’s reign.
6. In the blessing of the righteous, God’s eternal purpose is being accomplished.
II. This passage also raises an interesting question, “What is the standard of salvation?
A. Obviously being religious is not enough.
1. It is too easy to manipulate the practices of piety for selfish gain.
2. A cartoon in the series “Berry’s World” pictures one business man asking another, “C’mon Harry give it to me straight. Is there good money in being born again?”
3. When religion becomes the thing to do it is easy to jump on the bandwagon.
4. One can attend his meetings, voice his opinions, shout his amen’s and be totally clueless about what it is really all about.