Summary: Jesus described a final judgement that uses kindness as the determiner for who inherits the kingdom of God. Clearly kindness was important to him.
Matt 25: 34-40
Pope Francis shouldn’t be extraordinary. This is the headline from the Washington post, 2013. Quote, “Pope Francis shouldn’t be extraordinary. But in a world desperate for compassion, kindness and inspiration, he is.
The article continues,
It is a sad state of affairs to find Pope Francis on the cover of Time as the magazine’s Person of the Year.
Across the land, people are gaga for this man who is a champion of the poor, who preaches compassion and tolerance, who holds and kisses a disfigured man and washes the dirty feet of female prisoners.
Are we so beaten down by the greed, corruption, deviance and narcissism in our culture that we’re going to name a holy man Person of the Year for acting like a holy man?
We must be absolutely starved for inspiration when we celebrate this man for the simple, humble act of doing his job. In fact, that’s exactly what we are. Desperate for the mercy, kindness and forgiveness personified by Pope Francis.” Unquote.
I first want to say thank God there is at least one world famous Christian best known for his mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. We could use a few more protestant examples. Why do people find it so extraordinary, amazing, even surprising for the pope to be kind? How important is it for an identified holy person to be kind? How about those of us who identify ourselves as followers of Jesus?
It turns out, kindness is very important to Jesus. Today, I am going to give you three ways you can be kinder today. You may want to take your notes page out and be ready to write these down. Turn to the person next to you and say, he’s talking to you. I’m going to give you those three ways in the last two minutes of my time. First, listen to a very interest message from Jesus in the book of Matthew.
Matt 25: 31-40
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 Because…
Stop there. You tell me what criteria Jesus uses to separate those who are blessed from those who are not. What separates those who inherit the kingdom of God from those who don’t inherit it?
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!’
Now, I know there are other verses for us to take into consideration. Jesus says things like, I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but by me. So, no one verse or group of verses tells the entire story or gives the entire answer. But, in this verse, Jesus is very clear.
Jesus is describing the ultimate judgement of all people of all time. This isn’t limited to first century Jewish people or Christians or even religious people. He specifically says, all the nations. He gives specific criteria for how he is going to separate all people from all nations into two categories of those who enter God’s kingdom and those who don’t.
Before we look more closely at his criteria, a few words about sheep and goats.
Here is a sheep
And, this is a goat.
And this is a sheep and a goat.
They are obviously different. Anyone can tell them apart by looking at them. But, it turns out, in the first century, they weren’t so different. Sheep have been bred to be soft and fluffy, for their wool. Back then, you couldn’t tell a sheep from a goat just by taking a quick look. You had to watch their actions. A goat behaves very differently from a sheep. Sheep follow their shepherd. Goats do their own thing. Sheep avoid obstacles. Goats eat them. There is a saying, shepherds protect their sheep from the environment. Goat herders protect the environment from their goats.