Matthew 25:31–46 ‘When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will take his seat upon the throne of his glory, and all nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate them from each other, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, enter into possession of the kingdom which has been prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you gathered me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you came to visit me; in prison, and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him: “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and nourish you? Or thirsty, and gave you to drink? When did we see you a stranger, and gather you to us? Or naked, and clothed you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?” And the King will answer them: “This is the truth I tell you – insomuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those on the left: “Go from me, you cursed ones, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and angels. For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you did not give me to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not gather me to you; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, and you did not come to visit me.” Then these too will answer: “Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not render service to you?” Then he will answer them: “This is the truth I tell you – in so far as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go away to eternal life.’Barclay’s translation of
THIS is one of the most vivid parables Jesus ever spoke, and the lesson is crystal clear – that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment does not depend on the knowledge we have amassed, or the fame that we have acquired, or the fortune that we have gained, but on the help that we have given. And there are certain things which this parable teaches us about the help which we must give.
(1) It must be help in simple things. The things which Jesus picks out – giving a hungry person a meal, or a thirsty person a drink, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting the prisoner – are things which anyone can do. It is not a question of giving away huge sums of money, or of writing our names in the annals of history; it is a case of giving simple help to the people we meet every day. There never was a parable which so opened the way to glory to us all.
(2) It must be help which is uncalculating. Those who helped did not think that they were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal merit; they helped because they could not stop themselves. It was the natural, instinctive, quite un-calculating reaction of the loving heart. Whereas, on the other hand, the attitude of those who failed to help was: ‘If we had known it was you we would gladly have helped; but we thought it was only some insignificant person who was not worth helping.’ It is still true that there are those who will help if they are given praise and thanks and publicity; but to help like that is not to help, it is to pander to self-esteem. Such help is not generosity; it is disguised selfishness. The help which wins the approval of God is that which is given for nothing but the sake of helping.
(3) Jesus confronts us with the wonderful truth that all such help given is given to himself; in contrast, all such help withheld is withheld from himself. How can that be? If we really wish to bring delight to those who are parents, if we really wish to move them to gratitude, the best way to do it is to help their children. God is the great Father; and the way to delight the heart of God is to help his children, our fellow men and women.
There were two men who found this parable blessedly true. The one was Francis of Assisi; he was wealthy and high-born and high-spirited. But he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was out riding and met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of Christ.
The other was Martin of Tours. He was a Roman soldier and a Christian. One cold winter day, as he was entering a city, a beggar stopped him and asked for alms. Martin had no money; but the beggar was blue and shivering with cold, and Martin gave what he had. He took off his soldier’s coat, worn and frayed as it was; he cut it in two and gave half of it to the beggar man. That night he had a dream. In it he saw the heavenly places and all the angels and Jesus among them; and Jesus was wearing half of a Roman soldier’s cloak. One of the angels said to him: ‘Master, why are you wearing that battered old cloak? Who gave it to you?’ And Jesus answered softly: ‘My servant Martin gave it to me.’
When we learn the generosity which without calculation helps others in the simplest things, we too will know the joy of helping Jesus Christ himself.
Barclay; William. The Gospel of Matthew, Volume Two: 2 Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
One of the chief problems of Biblicism is that it fails to make the vital distinction between the Bible and Christianity. Christian faith is a living tree rooted in the soil of Scripture. We cannot remove the tree from the soil in which it is rooted and expect it to survive; but neither are we to think that the tree and the soil are the same thing! They are not. Put simply, the Bible and Christianity are not synonymous. Yes, they are connected, but they remain distinct. Scripture is the soil; Christian faith is the living tree. They are connected, but they are not the same thing. So if the Bible assumes that slavery is both a tolerable and inevitable institution (see Ephesians 6:5), even explicitly stating that slaves are slaveowners’ property (see Exodus 21:21), that doesn’t mean this is the Christian ethical position on slavery. Christianity is not a slave to the Bible— Christianity is a slave to Christ! Out of the soil of Scripture grows a mature Christian faith that is not only able, but required to oppose all forms of slavery in the name of Jesus. Rooted in the soil of Scripture, Christianity is capable of growing an ethical branch of justice called abolition.
Giles, Keith. Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible . Quoir. Kindle Edition.
The most paradoxical and at the same time the most unique and characteristic claim made by Christianity is that in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord from the dead, man has completely conquered death, and that “in Christ” the dead will rise again to enjoy eternal life, in spiritualized and transfigured bodies and in a totally new creation. This new life in the Kingdom of God is to be not merely a passively received inheritance but in some sense the fruit of our agony and labor, love and prayers in union with the Holy Spirit. Such a fantastic and humanly impossible belief has generally been left in the background by the liberal Christianity of the 19th and early 20th centuries, but anyone who reads the New Testament objectively must admit that this is the Doctrine of the first Christians. Indeed, Christianity without this fabulous eschatalogical claim is only a moral system without too much spiritual consistency. Unless all Christianity is centered in the victorious, living, and ever present reality of Jesus Christ, the Man-God and conqueror of death, it loses its distinctive character and there is no longer any justification for a Christian missionary apostolate. In point of fact, such an apostolate without the resurrection of the dead, has tended to be purely and simply an apostolate for western cultural and economic “progress,” and not a true preaching of the Gospel.
Merton, Thomas (1999-11-29). The New Man (Kindle Locations 45-54). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.
Christ Since the Beginning In the Beginning Monday, February 18, 2019 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there… Continue Reading In the Beginning
It’s time for a new acronym—a counter-narrative to the Calvinistic gospel of TULIP, as well as to the Arminian DAISY and the Molinist ROSES.
God does not view us as depraved creatures. We are God’s children, and he views us as any good parent would their children. God’s desire is not to punish us for sin, but to heal the wounds our sin causes.
We are not merely individuals. Humanity stands or falls together as a whole. By becoming human, Jesus entered into solidarity with the whole human race. With his death, all of humanity died, and with his resurrection, all of humanity gained new life.
God has never needed to be reconciled to us. It is we who have turned away from him, and God’s desire is to reconcile all of creation to himself and to each other. He has done, is doing, and will continue to do everything possible to bring about our reconciliation.
God’s grace is not coercive or manipulative, and it does not override our free will. It is, however, constantly poured out in full measure on all of creation. Though every individual receives God’s grace, some choose to resist, placing themselves at odds with the intended state of humanity.
Salvation is neither an irreversible decision nor a status that can be lost. Rather, salvation is a process with some steps taken forward and some taken backward. In as much as we simply submit to God’s love, we are continually transformed into his image.