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Bible Verse
Common English Bible (CEB)
Judgment of the nations
31 “Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began.
35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?
38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink.
43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or
naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’
45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’
46 And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”
Several months ago we talked about “duos” and how important they were.
Today’s text talks about the importance of being on the “right hand side” of God, especially at the time of judgment.
It reminds me of how important it was to be the “right hand” man/woman of some of the important people we previously discussed.
Robin was Batman’s “right hand man” and surely fared better than being off by himself.
The same could be said about Barney Rubble (w/out Fred?)
Sonny without Cher
Patrick without Spongebob
Luke without Yoda
There are many examples of those that benefit greatly from being on the right hand side of the main hero.
In scripture it is mentioned several times about Jesus being the one who is sitting at the right hand of God...
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The pharse Right Hand is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible and is typically used when talking about authority, strength and blessings.
So it’s safe to say that being at the right hand is going to bring forth some benefits, right?
So immediately we see that this separation has serious implications.
1 Jesus explains the 2 sides. Goats/Sheeps
Goats and Sheeps.
Some scholars say this is the LEAST popular parable that Jesus taught. Funny how it’s the LEAST when it itself deals with how we treat the LEAST.
Since this is dealing with the final judgment, a topic most of us don’t want to think about, I can see why it might not be the most popular parable. But during the final judgement Jesus says we are going to be separated into these two categories. Sheeps and Goats.
Now, in order to understand this text, we need to understand that typically out in the country; sheep and goats would mingle together during the day; but when the day was over; they would then be separated by their Shepherd. Goats weren’t as fluffy and warm as the sheep were; so they would need to huddle together to stay warm.
So here we have Christ represented as the Good Shepherd, who has now come for final judgement to make this separation once and for all.
Heaven and Hell
The Good and the Bad
The Right and the Wrong
The Yes and the No
The Pepsi and the Coke... ok, bad analogy.
But you get the point, Christ will come and separate us once and for all.
Something that has been proclaimed and promised by Christ.
Something that folks have been trying to figure out and determine and calculate themselves over the years.
Why? I’m still not sure why people try to figure it out. For even Jesus himself said in the previous chapter that even he doesn’t know when...
“But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows.”
Typically we look at this part of scripture and automatically look at it from the eyes of the righteous, from being a Christian and assuming that we are the good little sheep who have done good all along and are ready for our ticket to Heaven. But today we’re going to focus a little bit on what it might look like to be a goat.
2 The "Other" Viewpoint
Consider the Goats.
I’ve always looked at this scripture from the perspective of a believer. But I think God has opened my eyes up a little more, thanks to my current Missional Formation class in Seminary, to look at the text from a different viewpoint. I’ve been challenged a lot to look at text from the mindset of different cultures and upbringings. So when studying today’s text, I couldn’t help but want to look at it from the viewpoint of the goats.
Why were these that were sent to the left,
My first thought was, what must these Goats be thinking the entire time they’re hearing God talk to the sheep?
Can you imagine what it must’ve felt like, to have to go last? To set there and hear the sheep get their reward in Heaven?
Class Project? Who wants to go first? Who wants to go last? Usually good to go in the middle; but there were only two groups, one had to be 1st, one last.
First of all... When the sheep are being told that when God was hungry they had given them food, and when He was thirsty they had given him a drink, etc... the Sheep looked on in uncertainty and questioned him saying “When did you see us doing this?” But think about the Goats and what must’ve been going on in their heads, they were probably sweating it pretty badly. If those who are followers of God weren’t even aware of God being the least; than how in the world were the Goats supposed to know?
Second, lets look at how and why the sheep were doing these good things to begin with.
We’ve been studying the book of James downstairs with the Uth this past month and we’ve made it through the first three chapters so far. In James Chapter 2 it teaches us that a LIVING faith (as opposed to a DEAD faith) is accompanied by works, not because of works that we do, but because of the FAITH that we are LIVING out; we will begin to produce great works.
Sure there are people out there that do a lot of great things, a lot of great works, feed the needy, help the homeless, etc... but they do it out of a DEAD faith. They aren’t motivated and filled with the love of Christ, so they’re works are dead because the living Christ is not in them.
Could it be that their motive was done as a reflection of their love for God and their neighbor and not motivated by trying to earn salvation by their works? Could it be that such good works that they did do are nothing more than evidence of their living faith?
Or third, would it have made any difference had either the sheep or the goats had known that God was working undercover?
How authentic would that be? Only showing compassion and love for a stranger IF you knew it was really God or Jesus that you were helping?
Have you ever worked somewhere, that when your boss walked by your coworkers acted completely different than when they’re not around? We tend to do that when we think we’re being watched by God. We want to do more service when Thanksgiving rolls around, when it’s Christmas and Easter we want to get more involved (and that’s great, go and do that! Don’t stop!) but the truth is, we all know that God is always there watching us. So why do we wait for certain holidays to work out our faith and do great things.
The point of this final judgment story has been a huge eye opener to me over the years. It serves as a reminder that there is no way of knowing which person in need might be God or might not be God; but rather we are to assume that everyone who is in need represents God and we should show everyone the same level of compassion.
Have you ever seen Undercover Boss the show on TV? It depicts a CEO usually, or higher up in the company, going into different jobs of their corporation and working, you guessed it, Undercover, to see how life is for those that work under them. Typically they work and find out how hard it is, Then they usually hear some heartbreaking story that their employee(s) are going through and help them out in the end of the program by giving them bonuses, time off, promotions, etc..
But the people/employees show their true colors and their true feelings about the company they work for, in front of their boss without them knowing it is their boss. I wonder how many people who work for similar large companies began working a little more paranoid than before? Started treating every NEW person on the job as if it were their Boss? How much different would their lives look?
I think that’s what we’re looking at when we see the viewpoint of the goats. The goats would be ones who would only do good if they would have KNOWN that the hungry, thirsty, naked, lonely person was God; not the other way around where the Sheep were the ones already doing these things because the love of God was already in them.
John Wesley said “What encouragement is here to assist the household of faith? But let us likewise remember to do good to all men.”
Doing simple acts when you KNOW Jesus is watching. Just as the door was shut on the foolish bridesmaids.... for their negligence we heard a few weeks ago; not being prepared. So those on the left, these goats, are lost for failing to act on the many, somewhat simple, opportunities; to be able to show some kindness by reaching out to those they saw in need.
There shouldn’t be any ulterior motive as to why we do good to others. But rather our acts of kindness be driven out of the simple love of God that is already within us. Not looking for Christ in every encounter and person we come across, but acting out of the Christ that is already inside of us that’s willing to pour itself out and be shared with these others that we come across.
Do those who are LEFT, not know how to act because no one showed them?
Are they LEFT out due to their upbringing and lack of Christian witness in their life?
These are things we need to think of when it comes to evangelism and reaching new people. Believe it or not; some people simply DON’T KNOW who Jesus is and what he’s done.
3 Now what?
We have Jesus speaking to us about the final judgement, meaning this is it. There is no more second, third, fourth chances. This is the final judgement and the sheep have been gathered to his prominent position, to his right. Those that are not the sheep, are the goats and they are left out, they are on the left.
This situation will occur in real life just as Jesus predicted.
So consider this your next chance to stop being a goat and start being more of a sheep.
Start to act as if everyone you encounter is Jesus Christ himself, not out of fear, but out of love.
Let us live out our faith in a way that not only shines the light of Christ to others, but maybe helps them see a little clearer what being a follower of Christ is like. Those living in the dark need our light to shine on them to help get them out of the darkness.
Think for a moment, how you yourself went from the dark to the light. Wasn’t there someone out there that God used to help shine their light of Christ, show the love of God in them to you, that helped you cross over from the path of a goat on the left side, to a being the sheep on the right side. Was it a friend or family member? Or a stranger?
This Thanksgiving weekend we give thanks for a lot of things that God has done for us.
We give thanks for friends and family. We give thanks for those that have shown us love over the years.
Let us live out our faith in a way that not only shines the light of Christ to others, but maybe helps them see a little clearer what being a follower of Christ is like. Those living in the dark need our light to shine on them to help get them out of the darkness.
Think for a moment, how you yourself went from the dark to the light. Wasn’t there someone out there that God used to help shine their light of Christ, show the love of God in them to you, that helped you cross over from the path of a goat on the left side, to a being the sheep on the right side. Was it a friend or family member? Or a stranger?
4 How can we share this bold reminder with others?
Ending Story
Our goal as Christians should be to help as many people as possible. To team up where you can.
This weekend as we were decorating our Christmas trees, Charlotte said to me “Dad, when we team up together, we get things done faster” And I thought, you know what Charlotte, how true is that, not just for decorating for the holidays but also for the spreading of the Gospel. If we team up we not only have help but we also have accountability and someone there that can assist in shepherding those to the right side.
That reminds me of a story about a man who’d driven his car into a ditch in a desolate area. Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his horse named Buddy.
He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, “Pull, Nellie, pull!”
But Buddy didn’t move.
Once more the farmer hollered, “Pull, Nellie, pull!” Buddy didn’t respond.
The farmer repeated this action again, with the same results.
THEN the farmer nonchalantly said, “Pull, BUDDY, pull!” And the horse finally dragged the car out of the ditch.
The motorist was most appreciative and very curious. He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.
The farmer said, “Oh, Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn’t even try.”
The beauty of pulling together is that we’ll encourage each other and we’ll accomplish so much more for the Kingdom of God.
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