30 Days in the Bible, Day 18: Matthew 25:31-40
This passage concludes an extended discussion of Jesus’ kingdom. Here Jesus speaks of what will happen when He does come in all His glory, accompanied by His angels, and takes His seat on His throne. This particular scene is one of the final judgement, the culmination of the Last Days that began on Pentecost and will conclude with the coming of the eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It reflects Old Testament teaching on that judgment, but here it is not God the Father who sits on the throne, but the “Son of Man,” Jesus.
The judgment given here has puzzled many Christians over the centuries. It appears to teach that someone can be saved just by being nice to the poor and oppressed. If this were the case, this passage would go against much of the teaching of the rest of the New Testament, including Jesus’ own words about salvation. While our works are important. They do not result in our salvation.
So what is the point here? As we have seen during our study, our works come from hearts that are right with the Lord. They are the open demonstration of our faith in Jesus. When the “sheep” do what is right for those who are in need, they are showing that they have love and compassion that only comes from the Lord.
This is especially true given those to whom they are rendering service. Jesus calls them His brothers. While it is true that we are to care for the poor and downtrodden generally, this passage does focus specifically on believers, those who are part of Jesus’ family. The implication here is that the service that is rendered to them is given because they are members of the family of God. This suggests that the motivation is to bless those who are Christ’s in His name.
The works listed in this passage will not save anyone; no works can. They do show a heart that is already made right with God, and which desires to show the love and mercy of the Lord to others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet even for those who are saved through faith in Jesus, there is commendation from the Lord for service done for the sake of others in His name. That should provide even more motivation for us to be faithful in our service to the Lord.