Will you be on the Right or Left?

The Parables of Jesus

Will you be on the right or left?

April 6, 2022

Matthew 25:31-46

My Grandson is twelve years old. When he was younger, he had a bit of a problem with direction. Notice, I did not say directions; I said direction.

He is a great kid, and I love to be around him. My Grandson is an avid reader, loving, caring, and highly empathetic. He is also very organized.

His direction problem went like this. “Grandpa, where are the plates?” My reply, “In the cabinets to the right of the sink.” “Grandpa, I don’t see them?” So, I would get up, and inevitably I would find him looking in the cabinet to the left of the sink. This went on for several years. “Hey buddy, pick up that paper on the floor to your left.” And, He would look to the right.

Keegan doesn’t mix up his lefts and rights anymore. He knows where they are.

This brings us to our Parable for today.

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Although this story is a Parable, Jesus doesn’t mix words here. Instead, He gets right to the point. This story is not a simile or analogy. Instead, He is laying the facts before us in the form of a very logical story.

The Sheep and the Goats

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All 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. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 “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. 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 invited me in, I needed clothes, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit 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 invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘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 say to those on his 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 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.’

 “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?’

 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

Yes, this is a story about the end times. All nations will be gathered together for final judgment. Don’t let Jesus’ emphasis on works make you question your understanding of salvation.

Good works, such as giving to the poor or visiting someone in the hospital, do not secure our salvation. However, when we are in a right relationship with God, we will want to naturally serve as Jesus did.

Ephesians 2:8-10 explains it best:

“For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The goats on the left of God are not convicted because they didn’t serve their fellow man. They are non-believers who didn’t help their fellow man.

Even James, in his epistle, talks about works:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:14-17

Did you notice that James reiterates what Jesus says in today’s Parable? He talks about people being poorly clothed and lacking in daily food. So what’s James’ point? How can you be a faithful Christian if you don’t help others as Jesus did?

Jesus healed, Jesus, fed masses of people, drove out demons and washed His disciples, feet.

How can we claim to be in a right relationship with God when we don’t follow His example?

So, it begs the question. Will you be on the left or the right?

Dear Jesus. You taught us to be a servant to all. Help us follow your example as we live by faith and do good works in your name. Amen.

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