Exodus 28:1-14; Matthew 25:31-46; Psalms 31:19-20; Proverbs 11:18-19
NT: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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 took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘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 take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 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 didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 CSB)
This parable ends Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse.” At the end of the age, all the nations of the earth will stand before the Lord Jesus and He will individually separate the sheep from the goats – or the righteous from the unrighteous. This is not a message where Jesus is preaching salvation through good works. Salvation has and will always come through faith in God and in His Son. However, good works are an external indication of an inward change – especially works that flow out of a submitted and obedient heart. Jesus taught that the way up is the way down. He taught about sacrificial love and service to those in greater need than yourself. Throughout the word, God shows that He is always concerned about the vulnerable. A person who has been inwardly transformed and made new through faith in Christ will outwardly care for and serve the vulnerable, just as Christ did. Therefore, the division is based on who lovingly obeyed Christ’s command to love one another in the same sacrificial way He loved, and those who refused to love the way He commanded us to love. Not doing good is the same as doing evil, for it involves disobedience. As we do good… as we lovingly serve the vulnerable – it is an act of worship to the Lord. When we refuse to do good… when we reject the vulnerable and care only for ourselves – it is an act of disobedience and rebellion against the Lord. The works themselves do not bring salvation. The works are a product of the genuine salvation we have received.
Psalms: “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you. In the presence of everyone you have acted for those who take refuge in you. You hide them in the protection of your presence; you conceal them in a shelter from human schemes, from quarrelsome tongues.” (Psalms 31:19-20 CSB)
How great is the goodness… How great is the blessing… How great is the reward that God has stored up for those who honor Him and obey His word, will, and ways. He will openly, in the presence of everyone, bless those who fear Him… and He will protect them from the schemes of humanity.
Proverbs: “The wicked person earns an empty wage, but the one who sows righteousness, a true reward. Genuine righteousness leads to life, but pursuing evil leads to death.” (Proverbs 11:18-19 CSB)
When you sow righteousness – as you allow the fruit of God’s righteous work within you to flow out from you to others – it leads to life. Not feigned righteousness where you try to appear good outwardly – but true and genuine righteousness that is the product of the transformation that happens when you place your faith in God and in His Son. The sheep inherit eternal life. The goats – those who reject the Son and end up pursuing evil, receive the wages of evil – the eternal punishment that was prepared for the devil and his angels.