Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Matthew 25:31-46: The Sheep & Goats

Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

(34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

(37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

(41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (42) For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (43) I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. (44) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (45) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Christianity has certainly traveled down a strange path to arrive at the sad state of affairs that we are in today. There is one God. There is one set of Holy Scriptures agreed upon by almost everyone, but after those two legs of the stool are set down, it gets very interesting. . .maybe depressing is the better word. We have traveled so far from what is right before us. One of the doctrines that we run into more than any other at the jail in which I minister is the doctrine of once saved, always saved. Adherents of this misguided belief focus upon a few isolated scriptures and ignore huge chunks of the Bible. This little theory goes like this, we are saved by faith and therefore anything beyond mere mental assent that Jesus is Lord and died for our sins is then considered a work and since we are not saved by works of our own but by our faith in God, it is impossible for anything that we do or fail to do after our initial time of belief to effect our salvation.

A few years ago, I sat in a classroom in open astonishment, listening to a man say these words. . . (this is as close as I can remember it to an exact quote):

Now that you have opened your heart to God and asked Him in, you know with 100% certainty that you are going to heaven. I know that you are rapists, child molesters, wife beaters, drug dealers, murderers, etc. and further more I know that you are going to continue doing those things, but now you know that you are surely going to go to heaven.

Those words that I just typed really are not in any way an exaggeration of the message I heard preached in the jail that night. That message is such an abomination of the Lords doctrine.

In the verses above Jesus is speaking. . . what is Jesus saying? There is not even any mention of faith or belief. Jesus says to the ones on his left, to the goats. . . you did not show any compassion on your fellow man, therefore by implication you cannot love me. If you do not show kindness and caring for the least of these, recognize that we are not talking here about the kindly little old lady who lives next door, but we are talking about the refuse of society, those who are not recognized as being anyone worthy of our kindness and consideration. We are talking about the poor man lying bloody in the gutter. If you do not show kindness, compassion, generosity. . . If you do not spend of yourself upon them, it is not just that your crown will have fewer jewels in it, but:

Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.

Hell fire and torment is reserved for those who show no compassion and kindness to their fellow man. It little matters what you believe in your heart, if you do not let it out of that innermost place and act upon it.

Luke 10:30-37
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. (33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. (36) Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? (37) And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The priest and the Levite passed the wounded man by. The Mosaic Law finely defined what was clean and unclean. Literally if you merely touched something unclean you could not minister in the temple, there were lots of other things that you could not do until you had again purified yourself. It would be a great disruption of your day, a great inconvenience to even touch an injured and bloody man, let alone to minister to him like the supposedly ungodly Samaritan man did.

The priest and the Levite were by implication on their way to the synagogue. They were on an important mission. Jesus convicted them for not recognizing what the truly important mission was. They did not see that they had an opportunity to minister to and to worship God through service to their fellow man. They were in a hurry to get to an appointed place to do their duty to God. They were in a hurry not seeing that every place offers equal opportunity to minister to a God who is everywhere. . .They were in a hurry to somewhere and when they got there it was a place full of the stench of goats.

What about us? Would you. . .would I, being on our way to church and seeing a family broken down along side of the road, would we recognize what the priority of the situation was? Would we see where our godly obligation lay?

The issue is the same for us as it was for the Levite and the priest. We mentally point and wag our fingers at them. We are so superior to the hypocritical Levite and priest. . . we have so much in common with that good Samaritan. . . and yet what scenes might the Lord put before our eyes, out of the passages of our lives, in which we might be seen averting our eyes to the disheveled form half hidden in the weeds and hurrying on by, on our way to the temple. . .

I love you my God. . .
Please keep me from the place of the goats. . .


No comments: