Matthew 25:31-46 describes a day like no other. The final judgment. The gathering and separating of the nations, as sheep and goats before the Messiah, and His throne.
To those on the right, “Come, ye blessed of my Father…” To those on the left, “Depart from me, ye cursed…”
Upon hearing the charitable acts done or refrained from, both ask, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison…” Still more, those on the right will ask when they did these things, while those on the left will ask, when did they not do those things.
There is a curious verse in Proverbs that helps us to understand what Yeshua is conveying: “He that is kind to the poor lends to the Lord; He will repay him for his kindness” (Prov. 19:17; cf. Prov. 14:31).
Kindness to the poor is reckoned as a loan to the Lord Himself, a loan which He will guarantee and repay. Why? How? Kindness a loan? Considering the depth of meaning to kindness in Hebrew, He is making a marvelous promise, but that’s for another time.
The incarnation of Jesus brought Him closer to us than we can fathom. As the author of Hebrews reminds us, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
What we learn from Scripture is that the Lord is not only close to the poor, but also the sick, the broken-hearted, the hungry, the thirsty, the widow, the orphan, the lost, the abused, the afraid, even the bold, every facet of human experience.
What does that have to do with you and me? Christ.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).
Righteousness is not a sedentary condition of those faithing in Messiah. God’s righteousness in us leads to life changing relation (Eph. 2:8-10).
To Proverbs again, “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov. 11:10-11).
Why would a city rejoice at the blessing of the righteous? It all has to do with what the righteous do with the blessing.
The righteous are those, following and faithing in Messiah, who lower themselves in order to benefit the community: the poor, the needy, the outcast, the lost, the broken, the messed up, the suffering, the hungry, the thirsty, the oppressed, the stranger, etc. They do not rest on their advantage.
The way you can access the condition of your relationship with the Lord is not only by your attitude, but also your involvement in the lives of those the Lord identifies with. What is your involvement with life around you? Do people rejoice to the Lord because of you? Humbling isn’t it?
Yet the judgment pictured above is even more striking when you consider where Christ became “hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison…” At His arrest, His trial, His judgment, His crucifixion, and His death.
“When did we see You?” He is pointing to His cross. The Lord is in all of those human conditions. Seeing Him on the cross, we see God relating to man, and becoming the worst degree of suffering.
Christ died with nothing, even His robe taken. He suffered the greatest injustice beneath the lash of religious and governmental authority: naked, beaten, scorned, rejected, alone, thirsty, reckoned among the worst of humanity. The righteous One, the King of glory, abased beyond our imagining.
What should our response be? A calm, passive assurance of acceptance in heaven on that day? Or righteous involvement to help alleviate the suffering Christ identified with? “Whatsoever you did to the least of these my brethren, you did to Me” … or “you did not do.”
Our sin nailed Christ to the cross, but what does our cleansing by His blood do? “Come, ye blessed of my Father…” those blessed by the Father, because of the Son are moved to action when previously we would have been spectators and scorners: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him” (Matt. 27:42).
I am in no way judging you dear reader, as I am first writing this to myself. In a season where many are giving up hope, losing faith, or enduring the most excruciating torment, what can we do, but be Christ to a people in need. That is our mission, not self-preservation – for we are already dead to the flesh, and alive in Him.
Be well. Shalom.