University Bible Fellowship of
Bible Search 


Matthew 25:31-25:46
Key Verse: 25:40

Thank God for blessing our 2012 SBC so abundantly. The title was “I desire mercy.” God’s mercy made us alive with Christ when we were dead in our sins and transgressions. In his mercy he forgave our sins and accepted us as his children. He called us to show his mercy to the world. We are to go and learn his merciful heart. Today’s passage can be one example of this, how to practice God’s mercy. Jesus said in Matthew 24:11 that at the end times the love of most would grow cold. As we wait for his coming again, we should practice his love and mercy all the more.

First, the King separates the people (31-33). Look at verse 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.” The Son of Man will come as the King. This coincides with Isaiah 6:1, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted…” and Zechariah 14:9, “The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.” While on earth, the Son of Man suffered much. He was rejected and despised and was crucified. But he will finally sit on the throne as the King. What will he do as the King? Look at verses 32,33. “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. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” The King will judge all the nations. No nation will be an exception. He will do the work of separation. Why not accept all people and unite them as the inhabitants of this planet? But people must know that God is the God who separates. This is clearly shown from Genesis. He separated the light from the darkness (Ge 1:4). He separated the water under the expanse from the water above it (Ge 1:7). And he separated the day from the night (Ge 1:14). This is the separation in his creation. In Exodus God made a distinction between his people of the Israelites and the people of Pharaoh the Egyptians. Dense of swarms of flies covered the whole Egypt except the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived (Ex 8:22-24). At the plague on the livestock all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died (Ex 9:6). At the plague of hail throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields, but the only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were (Ex 9:25-26). And while total darkness covered all Egypt for three days and no one could see anyone else, all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived (Ex 10:22-23).

In Matthew’s gospel we have seen this. At the coming of the Son of Man two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left (Mt 24:40-41). Here he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goat. In other words he will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. In God’s kingdom the righteous and unrighteous cannot be together. It is impossible. As for all human beings separation is hard to bear. People have separation anxiety. It is an undeniable truth that death separates people. Yet, it is a temporary separation, not eternal. The eternal separation is the one the King makes. No one wants to be separated, rather people make great effort for unity. However, if anyone says, “All human beings can be united,” that’s a sheer deception. According to Jesus the eternal separation is inevitable.

Second, the King and the sheep (34-46). Look at verse 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.” What a blessing! This inheritance will be the greatest inheritance among all the inheritances people have ever received. It is the inheritance of the kingdom, which God prepared since the creation of the world.

Then why will those on his right receive this inheritance? Look at verses 35,36. “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, 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.” We know that Jesus was hungry and thirsty from time to time. On one occasion when he met a Samaritan woman in the heat of the day, he was hungry and thirsty. But at that time he did not eat or drink anything. Rather, he said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (Jn 4:34). He had many friends from high and low ranks of people. Particularly he was a friend of tax-collectors and sinners. So he was not a stranger. He always had clothes and was clothed. He was never sick. Rather he healed the sick, various kinds of sick people. He was never in prison. Rather, he proclaimed freedom for the prisoners (Lk 4:18). Then what did Jesus mean when he said this? So those on his right, now called the righteous asked the King, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” Their question is quite understandable. Then what is the answer? Look at verse 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.’” Here we see the relation between the King and the least. The King is very much concerned about the least. We need to think over the King’s reply. The King did not say, “Whatever you did for anyone you did for me.” He also did not say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of people you did for me.” He said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me.” What does this mean? Does it mean that whenever we see people, we should ask, “Are you Jesus’ brother? If they say, “yes,” then we are to serve, and if “no”, we are not to serve? Definitely, not. It must have meant serving the least ones in his name, not in my name for human recognition. And least ones are those who are in need, but outside of people’s concern. It is a pure and secret serving for a least one before God.

This is what Jesus did in his messianic ministry. He met a man possessed by 6,000 demons living in the tombs and healed him completely so that the demon-possessed man could be dressed and in his right mind. He welcomed a man with paralysis and made him whole through both spiritual and physical healing. He forgave his sins and let him get up and walk. He called Matthew a tax collector, saying, “Follow me,” and took care of him until he became an outstanding disciples of Jesus. Even on the cross, he cared for a dying repentant robber inviting him to his kingdom of paradise. The examples are endless.

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus pays attention to little ones. Matthew 10:42 says, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciples, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 18:10 says, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones…” And Matthew 18:14 says, “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” Jesus our King does not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick till he leads justice to victory (Mt 12:29).

When we study the Old Testament, we see that God cares for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. For they are the people who are in desperate need. Deuteronomy 24:17 says, “Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.” And Deuteronomy 24:21 says, “When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.”

In our society we see many people who are in need but socially abandoned. Whenever we have chances to serve them, we should do so in his name. We also see many students in our campus who are in much spiritual need but out of people’s concern because they look fine outwardly. We believe that when Jesus categorized, “hungry,” “thirsty”, “a stranger”, “needing clothes,” “sick” and “in prison,” he did not mean such situations only or putting emphasis on physical or material help. The point is practical and real help through making genuine effort. Certainly Jesus wants us to go beyond the category. Jesus once talked about people who were harassed and helpless under the torment of evil spirits (Mt 9:36). As for us we cannot ignore the students in our campus who are spiritually abandoned despite their desperate need. If they are not taken care of with proper spiritual help, in their intellectual mind they can become the enemies of God, and spiritually bankrupt. We believe that our Lord Jesus wants us to look after those who are spiritually abandoned in our campus, although we should also care for those who are in any physical need whenever we have chances to serve them. Jesus’ words, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine” can be Matthew’s version of Jesus’ command, “Feed my lambs…take care of my sheep…feed my sheep” in John’s gospel. This can be also the interpretation and application of the greatest commandment of loving God and loving our neighbour. According to Matthew’s gospel, the story of “doing for one of the least of these brothers of mine” is the end of Jesus’ messianic ministry before his going into the Passion Week.

There was once a child abandoned in a hospital. The parents and doctors gave up the hope of reviving the child. The pitiful child was maintaining her breath through the oxygen supplier. One day a retired nurse saw this dying child while doing her voluntary service. It was a dramatic life-sustaining encounter for the child. The aged nurse resisted the hospital authorities that showed such a cold attitude to the helpless child, and raised her voice, saying, “This child will surely be revived and become a wonderful citizen of our nation to serve others.” Since that day the nurse devoted herself 24 hours a day to take care of this severely sick young patient. The elderly nurse bathed the child and spoke to her in love although there was no response for the conversation. She sang hymn songs and read the Bible to the child and prayed taking hold of her hand. However, nothing seemed to happen to improve the condition of the child. But after six months while the nurse was falling into sleep having the child in her bosom, she could hear the sound of the melody of the hymn songs she had sung to the child. When she awoke, the sound of the tune was none other than that of the child imitating her singing. It was a signal of the revival of the child. The child patient was Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) who became the teacher of Helen Keller (1880-1968). Without the devoted care of the aged nurse there would have been no Sullivan and no Helen Keller.

We also remember how Apostle served a ran-away slave Onesimus. Paul said that Onesimus had beccome his son, his very heart, while he was in chains in Rome. In Paul’s care the formerly useless man became a person useful to all. Paul’s appeal for Onesimus to his master became a book of the Bible. May we learn to do things for one of the least of Jesus’ brothers, that is to serve one least soul solely in his name.

Look at verse 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.” In Matthew’s gospel Jesus repeatedly said about this terrible place. This place is also real, as the kingdom of heaven is real. Look at verses 42,43. “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 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.” This will be a shocking to those on his left. So they 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?” At this the King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, while the righteous go to eternal life.

In this passage we learn that while living in this world we should serve our King by caring for the least ones in the name of Jesus. This is the way of eternal life and to his eternal kingdom.

UBF headquarters | Chicago UBF | UBF TV | Northwestern UBF | Washington UBF | New York UBF | Europe UBF  | Email Us | Site Admin