Summary: Discussion on just who Jesus is talking about when talking about "the least of these" and why it’s so important that we care for them.
“The Least of These…”
May 31, 2009
Me: I don’t know that compassion could be called one of my strong suits.
I don’t think I’m necessarily a big meanie, at least not intentionally, but I’m not a person who can easily see someone’s suffering, unless someone tells me about it, or it’s incredibly obvious.
When I finally get it, I’m usually pretty quick to act. Usually. Unfortunately, there have been times when I was confronted with a need, and I’d just roll my eyes before doing anything about it.
I’m not real proud of it. And I’ve determined that the next time one of my kids asks for a glass of water, I’ll just go ahead and get it for them…
We: Have you ever been met with a need from someone and you’re thinking, “Not again. This happens all the time and I’m getting a bit tired of it.”
Or maybe you come across a homeless person or someone you know could use a helping hand and you wonder what you can do to avoid helping that person.
You use all sorts of rationalizations like, “He could get a job if he really tried – being hungry will give him some incentive.” Or, “I don’t have time to dig a couple bucks out of my purse – I’m late picking up the kids from soccer.”
Or you know a fellow Christian who’s fallen on hard times and you wish you could do something about it, but you’re not really sure what to do.
I think most of us have had situations like that.
But have you ever thought about the fact that helping someone, especially those who are part of the family of God, has eternal implications?
That your helping someone might actually be a way of touching Christ Himself?
It’s an awesome thought, and our passage from Scripture today talks about that.
God: Jesus lays out a scene here that describes a judgment. This is not a parable, strictly speaking, but rather a word picture of an actual event in the future.
Matthew 25:31-46 (p. 702) –
We start off with a description of the setting of this judgment –
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him,
Man, that seems awesome, doesn’t it? I don’t think I can really put my brain around that scene, can you?
Jesus – in all his glory – surrounded by all the angels. Not just some of the angels, not just the archangels, but all the angels. Now I have no idea how many angels there are, but it’s got to be a pretty huge number.
Okay, let’s keep going, back in verse 32 –
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
Isn’t that awesome? This Kingdom, existing from the beginning of time, is sure and unchangeable. Believers need never doubt its existence. (LACNT)
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 "The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, ’Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 "They also will answer, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’