The Least Of These

Tonight, we’re continuing through the gospel of Matthew trying to understand the Trinitarian doctrine that we see in the New Testament. Our passage tonight will be in Matthew 25. I’m really not wanting to get into Matthew 24 simply because I don’t want this to become about eschatology. I have my positions, of course, but that is not the purpose of this blog. With that, let’s go to the text.

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. 32All 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. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 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. 35For 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, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 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.’

 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. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.’

 44“They also 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?’

 45“He 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.’

 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Let’s keep something in mind that I got a reminder of tonight. The gospel narratives are all about Christ. We can get caught up here in the questions of salvation and how we should treat our neighbor. Of course, those are important and the gospels do have something to say about that, but Jesus is the main character and we should see what the gospels are saying about him.

Notice that Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man. This is a name coming from Daniel. It’s referring to him as the one who is an exalted figure that has the right to rule. He is the Messiah that is bringing in the new age.

Note also that this goes right along with his other titles in this passage of king and Lord. We can be sure he’s speaking of the same person for he refers to the way that one relates to the Father while describing the situations going on.

I’d like to you to consider that Jesus is talking about entrance into the kingdom. Notice what he bases it on though. He bases it on his identity. Doing good to the people of Christ is doing good to Christ. Doing ill to them is doing ill to Christ. This is an exalted view of himself.

That is, unless he’s who he claims to be.

He doesn’t point to faithfulness to YHWH. He points to faithfulness to him. It’s not about how you respond to the Mosaic Law. It’s about how you respond to him. Jesus, in essence, sees himself as the focal point of the covenant and is saying “It’s all about how you respond to me.” Your eternal destiny relies on what you do with this man and how you respond to him.

What do we do with him? Consider him egotistical? It hardly sounds the character of Jesus, but you all know how you would respond if I made the claims. That goes especially for those of you who know me! If Billy Graham made these claims, we’d denounce him. It doesn’t matter who it is. No one today would make these claims and be accepted at large. (I say that because there are always nuts who makes these kinds of claims and some people follow them.) The point is that even those who are not Christians today generally do not see Jesus as egotistical. 

Are we going to say he is who he says he is and act accordingly? If his words are true, you’d better hope that’s what you do.

And if his words are true, you’d better hope you’re on his side as well. We come to the trilemma of Lewis with this. He is either a lunatic, the very devil out of Hell, or the Lord he claimed to be. It is up to you to decide.

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