1. Illust. Just after World War II as all the American servicemen were coming home, a sailor called his parents from San Diego. He said he was bringing a buddy home w/ him. "You see Mom," he said, "my friend is in pretty bad shape. He was severely wounded. He only has one arm, one leg, and one eye. So I thought he could come live with us." After a few moments of silence the mother said, "Of course, let him come & stay a little while with us." But from the hesitancy in her voice the sailor realized they would not want to be burdened with a handicapped person for long. Two days later the parents received a telegram that their son had jumped from a hotel window. When they received the body it had one arm, one leg, and one eye.
2. On the Day of Judgment there will be a group of people echoing what those parents must surely have said--"IF ONLY WE HAD KNOWN!"
a. "If only we had known that helping others was helping Jesus."
b. "If only we had known that serving others was serving Christ."
c. "How differently we would have lived our lives!"
3. In the latter part of Matt. 24 Jesus begins to speak concerning the Day of Judgment. In Matt. 25 he relates 2 parables which teach:
a. Need to be ready because Jesus' return unexpected (10 Virgins).
b. Need to be found busy when Jesus returns (The Talents).
c. But in Matt. 25:31 . . .
1) Jesus puts aside the parables & begins to speak plainly.
2) What we need to be found busy doing when Jesus returns.
I. THERE WILL BE A JUDGMENT DAY (31-33).
A. The Judgment will occur when Jesus returns (31).
1. We do not know when that will be ("As a theif").
2. Therefore we must always be prepared.
B. The Judgment will involve everyone who has ever lived (32a--"nations")
1. "For we must ALL appear before the j. s. of Christ" (2 Cor. 5:10).
2. "Judged EVERY MAN according to their works" (Rev. 20:13).
C. The Judgment will involve a separation (32b-33).
1. There can be no separation now (cf. Matt. 13--The Tares).
2. The separation, when it comes, will be an easy one.
a. As easy as separating sheep from goats.
b. Any shepherd can do this all day long w/o making a mistake!
II. THERE WILL BE A REWARD FOR THE RIGHTEOUS (34-40).
A. The reason for their reward . . . THEY GAVE.
1. Boiled down, the essence of Christianity is GIVING (Acts 20:35).
2. World defines a Christian in the very terms used in this passage!
a. A Christian is someone who feeds the hungry.
b. A Christian is someone who clothes the naked.
c. A Christian is someone who visits sick & in prison.
3. Who does the world think is more of a Christian--Mother Teresa or Jimmy Swaggert?
B. THEY GAVE WITHOUT THOUGHT OF REWARD.
1. This is the very type of giving that Jesus commanded (Matt. 6:1-4).
2. Their good behavior had become "second nature."
C. THEY GAVE WHAT WAS NEEDED.
1. Notice the material & non-material in vv. 35-36.
2. How quick we are to pull out our wallets when the needs of someone may be non-material in nature!
D. THEY GAVE IN SIMPLE THINGS.
1. What they gave did not involve very much.
a. A meal; a place to stay; some clothes; some time.
b. Even a cup of cold water is not w/o reward (Matt. 10:42).
2. Even the poorest among us have the simple things to give!
3. When we consider needs of world we often become discouraged.
a. Incredible needs in Africa, Asia, etc.
b. Can't begin to make a dent--end up doing nothing.
4. It is at this point that we need to take a look at Jesus' ministry.
a. Jesus could have healed every sick person in the world--didn't.
b. Jesus could have fed every hungry person in the world--didn't.
c. Dealt w/ people individually--as he came in contact w/ them.
d. Surely he expects no more from us!
E. THEY GAVE TO JESUS CHRIST.
1. This is the most remarkable thing in the whole passage!
a. Somehow Saul in persecuting Christians was persecuting Christ.
b. Somehow when I help those in need I am helping Christ!
2. Illust. This is the basis for Mother Teresa's work among the "poorest of the poor" and the "lowest of the low." She is able to see each individual as the image of God & ministers to them!
III. THERE WILL BE A PUNISHMENT FOR THE WICKED (41-46).
A. The reason for their punishment . . . THEY NEGLECTED THEIR DUTY.
1. No terrible sins are charged to these folk!