Summary: In the New Testament “Son of Man” is the title Christ used for Himself. It stresses His manhood, which is unique in comparison with all other men, for He is declared to be from heaven.
Date: Tuesday of Our Lord’ Final Week
Location: Mount of Olives
Scriptures: Matthew 25:31-46
Part 4: JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
When the Son of Man comes in His glory. In the New Testament “Son of Man” is the title Christ used for Himself. It is found almost exclusively in the Gospels, but it is also used in Acts 7:56 and Rev. 1:13 and 14:14. It stresses His manhood, which is unique in comparison with all other men, for He is declared to be from heaven (1 Cor. 15:47).
The glory of Christ was seen on only three occasions, as far as we know; at His baptism, at the transfiguration, and at His assention. The rest of the time, it was masked, and men could only see His human side. His glory is a quality of God’s character that emphasizes His greatness and authority. It is revealed in God’s beauty, power, and honor. The word is used in three ways in the Bible:
1. God’s moral beauty and perfection of character. This divine quality is beyond human understanding. All people “fall short” of it (Rom. 3:23).
2. God’s moral beauty and perfection as a visible presence. While God’s glory is not a substance, at times God does reveal His perfection to humans in a visible way. Such a display of the presence of God is often seen as fire or dazzling light, but sometimes as an act of power. Some examples from the Old Testament are the pillar of cloud and fire (Ex. 13:21), the Lord’s deliverance of the Israelites at the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and especially His glory in the tabernacle (Lev. 9:23–24) and Temple (1 Kin. 8:11). Since the close of the Old Testament, the glory of God has been shown mainly in Christ (Luke 9:29–32)[TL1] and in the members of His church. Christ now shares His divine glory with His followers (John 17:5–6, 22), so that in their lives Christians are being transformed into the glorious image of God (2 Cor. 3:18)[TL2]. Believers will be fully glorified at the end of time in God’s heavenly presence (Rom. 5:2). There the glory of God will be seen everywhere (Rev. 21:23)[TL4].
3. Praise. At times God’s glory may mean the honor and audible praise that His creatures give to Him (Ps. 115:1).
The first time Christ came was as a little baby. His glory was veiled and we only saw glimpses of His power. He came to save mankind, and He did, by dying on a cross. He will come again, with His angels, to defeat Satan one more time, establish His kingdom, and judge all men. When Christ returns:
1. It will be a time of separation: the wise will be separated from the foolish, the faithful servants from the unfaithful, the blessed (sheep) from the cursed (goats).
2. His coming also means evaluation. As we wait for the Lord to return, we must invest our lives and earn dividends for His glory. Christ gives us opportunities that match our abilities, and the one-talent servant is just as important as the five-talent servant. The key is faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2), for God measures us against ourselves and not against the other servants. Are you afraid to step out by faith and take some risks for God?
3. It will be a time of commendation. We will be surprised to learn about ministries we performed that we thought were insignificant but that He will reward. This parable is not teaching salvation by good works. Christ’s sheep know that they are sheep [1o](John 10:14, 27–30), but they do not always realize what their service means to Christ. We will experience some surprises on that day!
This passage describes the Judgment of the Nations, which is to be distinguished from the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Judgment of the Great White Throne.
The Judgment Seat of Christ, a time of review and reward for believers only, takes place after the Rapture (Rom. 14:10)[TL5].
The Judgment of the Great White Throne takes place in eternity, after the Millennium. The wicked dead will be judged and consigned to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11–15).
The Judgment of the Nations, or Gentiles (the Greek word can mean either), takes place on earth before the kingdom is established on earth, for the saved are told to “inherit the kingdom (v. 34). If we are right in identifying it with Joel 3, the location of this judgment is the Valley of Jehoshaphat, outside Jerusalem. The nations will be judged according to their treatment of Christ’s Jewish brethren during the Tribulation (Joel 3:1, 2, 12–14).
And all the holy angels with Him. We ordinarily understand the word “angels” (i.e., “messengers” of God) to mean “a race of spiritual beings having a nature exalted far above that of man, although infinitely removed from that of God—whose function is “to do Him service in heaven, and to help and defend men on earth.”