Answer: Those taking care of their needs are the ones who get into Heaven. (Bet you didn’t think that’s what I was going to say!) BTW, that’s not all you have to do to get in to Heaven, but we’ll discuss that in a minute.
- V31 – Wow. I just gotta stop on this one for a minute because it paints an amazing picture.
- V32 – All the nations will be together and no one will be concerned about who hates who or any other pettiness because we’ll all be focused on Jesus.
- V34 – Did you catch that? God’s been preparing His kingdom for us from the foundation of the world. If He created our universe in seven days, imagine what He can do in all that time!
- V35-36 – If I wasn’t familiar with this passage, I think I would be surprised that this was the defining factor between the sheep and the goats. It wasn’t “For you read your Bible a lot and didn’t break the law or live a wild life.” He doesn’t mention anything about all the sins they didn’t do. The most important factor here is that these people took care of people who needed help.
◊ Who’s hungry and thirsty? Homeless people, people living in poverty in our country and in others.
Who’s a stranger? Immigrants, both legal and illegal; people I don’t know
Who needs clothing? Generally, the same people who are hungry; unwanted babies
Who’s sick? People in hospitals and nursing homes; people who can’t afford healthcare
Who’s in prison? Criminals (and in some countries, people being persecuted for their faith.)
Can I put a name or a face to anyone with any of these needs? Who have I fed? Clothed? Welcomed? Visited?
- V40 – I would be a lot more eager and less judgmental to help someone in need if I thought of serving them like I was serving Jesus. That’s what He asks of me. This verse demands that we set aside judgment and help!
- V34-40 – Check out this note from my Study Bible: “This parable describes acts of mercy we all can do every day. These acts do not depend on wealth, ability, or intelligence; they are simple acts freely given and freely received. We have no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs, and we cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or government. Jesus demands our personal involvement in caring for others’ needs.”
- V41 – The fire was prepared for the devil and his angels, but faithless people will end up there as well.
- V42-43 – Again, it’s surprising that this is the deciding factor, not all the “big sins” one thinks of when you think of what gets a person sent to hell.
- V44 – Ok, He just repeated these words four times in ten verses! Think He’s trying to make a point?! Pay attention!
◊ V45 – Am I putting service to those in need as a high-level priority?! Not doing something God has asked me to do is just as much a sin as doing something He has asked me not to.
- V46 – Eternity is at stake.
- V31-46 – Is this about working our way into heaven?! No. Jesus already taught that we can do the right things for the wrong reasons and still miss the boat (Matthew 6:1-4; 7:21-23). He also taught that faith in Him is the only way to heaven (John 14:6). The sheep are the ones who accepted Jesus’ love and when you’re filled with Jesus’ love and understand how little you deserve that love and how much Jesus had to sacrifice to offer it, you can’t help but be moved to compassion by people’s needs. The Spirit of God moved Jesus to compassion when He was confronted by people’s need and brokenness (Matthew 14:14, 15:32; 23:37), that same Spirit lives in those who follow Jesus. John 14: 12 sums it up nicely: “Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do…”
- Check out Isaiah 58 for more on how much God wants us to take care of the poor.
If this post puts a fire under your butt, I highly recommend that you read Shane Claiborne’s book Irresistible Revolution.
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?