Summary: The manner in which we give service to others determines whether we are sheep or goats.
If I Had Known – Matthew 25:31-46
Intro: From the time we are very little we are taught to sort things putting like things together. I had a bag of marbles when I was a kid and I would dump them all out on the carpet in my room and sort out the “cat’s eye” marbles from the rest because the were my favorite. Think about it. We separate many things: God vs. Devil, good vs. evil, Black vs. white, Aggie vs. UT, Bulldogs vs. Indians.
I. Vs. 32 – “Then all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
A Which do you think you are? My children think I’m an old goat. And I’ll bet there are some among you that are thinking the same thing but for different reasons.
B What is the difference between sheep and goats? Is there some distinguishing factor that would help me decide? If there was a flock of sheep and goats here in this room, could you separate one from the other? How would you decide which was which? --- By the way they look. Appearance / Characteristics we can observe.
C We tend to make all our judgments in that way, don’t we? Male and female, Katrina and Rita, rich and poor, white and black, We tend to base most of our judgments on outward appearance.
II. VS. 34 – 36 --- Jesus doesn’t distinguish between goats and sheep by their outward appearance and neither should we.
A. What does Jesus use as his criteria for “sheepness” or “goatness”?
B. How do you differentiate between your friends and your enemies? Your friends are people who do nice things for you just because they are your friend and they like you. You like your friends and welcome them with open arms, warm hugs and kind words.
C. How do you recognize your enemies? Usually, it is someone who thinks differently than you, someone who does mean things to you, someone you can’t trust and wouldn’t hug because you are afraid they would stab you in the back. So, you tend to stay clear of them.
III. VS. 35 – 37 – “You fed me, gave me a drink, welcomed me, clothed me, visited me when I was sick and in jail.”
A It would appear that Jesus used the same criteria as we would use to divide between his sheep friends and goat enemies. But, in fact it isn’t until verse 40 – “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” that we discover the real method for distinguishing the difference.
B It isn’t doing something for me --- it’s doing something for others that are precious to Jesus. It’s how much you do for others expecting nothing in return, regardless of who or what they are.
C. The criteria for determining the difference between sheep and goats is by what they do for others. ----
Conclu: The thing I find most interesting here is the reaction of the Sheep and Goats to the “When?” question. They are both surprised because they didn’t know it was Jesus. --- “Lord, if I had known it was you asking for a handout in those smelly, filthy clothes . . . The lesson to be learned here is that we will all be judged and separated not by the color of skin or team we supported, or even the church we attended; but, by the way in which we responded to human need. ---- But, Lord, if I had known!