Sunday

26 November 2017

Matthew 25:31-46

“Just as much as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (v. 40)

Psalm: Psalm 95


Background

Today's passage will be familiar to many readers and needs little comment. It is often referred to as a parable, but it is more a direct description of what is to come. A parable usually conveys its message by an analogy or a story (eg the kingdom of heaven is like...).

In the figure of the Son of Man who sits in judgement in verse 31 (in verse 34 "the king") we are to see Jesus in his glory at the end of all things, calling all nations (not just his followers) to account. 'Right' and 'left' are, as in many cultures, associated with good and bad, clean and unclean respectively.

Western readers used to seeing woolly white sheep on a hillside may not appreciate that in other parts of the world sheep and goats may be similar in colour and are often pastured together. It can take an experienced eye to tell them apart.

Note that neither group is aware of the implications of what they did or did not do. The point of the passage is precisely that Jesus is representedincognitoin those who are in need. It is the response to a need that counts, not the thought that we are doing it for Jesus.


To Ponder

  • Who are the needy to whom we should especially respond today?
  • Are there types of need not covered by the summary in verses 35 to 36? If so, what might they be?
  • Do you believe in eternal punishment (verse 46)? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..