Page 49 of Dad’s New Testament Bible has a faint penciled box around verses 37-40 of Matthew 25. It is as if Dad could not boldly circle these verses in ink; just humbly and gently scribe the page with a blunt pencil; as a servant awed by the sheer power and majesty of his Almighty King. When I first read the noted verses 37-40, I was not seeing a message of encouragement. In the words of Jesus Himself:
“37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’“ ~ Matthew 25:37-40
Matthew scripture chapter 25, verses 31-46 is known in modern times as “The Parable of the Sheep and Goats”. It is the last parable that Jesus spoke to His disciples privately at the location of the Mount of Olives just two days before his betrayal and arrest during Passover in Jerusalem. Jesus is speaking of the judgment of the nations in this passage which will take place at His Second Coming. I encourage you to read the entire passage if you have not already. A link is provided at the end of this post. The parable’s meaning is very controversial; even to the point that there is no agreement as to whether it is a parable or not! I have avoided links to opposing views on this parable, but feel that we can surely ascertain that the verses speak of King Jesus separating the goat nations to His left for everlasting punishment, and the righteous sheep nations to His right hand for eternal life, based upon their treatment of “the least of these My brethren”.
But what does this mean? Who are the least? Scripture supports, explains, or backs up scripture, so let’s look at a passage in Exodus:
“21Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry, 24And My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. 25If thou lend money to any of My people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. 26If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: 27For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto Me, that I will hear, for I am gracious.” ~ Exodus 22:21-27 (KJV)
Consider: Here in Alaska it would be thought inhumane in extremely cold weather to accept the coat of another unless the circumstances were dire (survival related) or the recipient of the coat knew it was a spare coat of the giver. Yes, and return it by nightfall! But I can also witness that some Alaskans will go out of their way to cover a freezing homeless person with their own coats in sub-zero weather. Whether believers or not, I cannot say, but the gesture of mercy for the poor and naked is not lost on this writer, nor with Jesus, I am confident.
Don’t forget “My brethren” are fellow believers, the Jews (Yeshua was definitely a Jew). Show kindness to one another. Help one another. Pray for and lift up all men, as only God knows who is of the sheep nations or who is of the goat nations. We are not to discriminate or judge anyone.
I hear all the time that there is no salvation in good works. Baloney! True, Jesus is our Messiah, and He is our Redeemer. There is no other way to salvation but through belief in Him. Yet His ministry on earth was a life of good works. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. Let His example be our guide, in order to be more like Him.
I think James, the Lord’s brother, clarifies the question of good works :
“14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” ~ James 2:14-18 (KJV)
So where is the message of encouragement on page 49 of Dad’s Bible? For me, it is “THE PROMISE” of great reward that Jesus taught us: He knows His sheep, and is known by them. King Jesus is The Great Shepherd who carefully tends His flock (sheep nations) and keeps it safe from God’s wrath. He refers to His sheep as being “righteous”. But Jesus warned, in His own words, that there is a terrible and final consequence for the goat nations who are not charitable; who do not feed the poor, but rob the poor; who do not help orphans or widows, but abuse and sell them into slavery; who love themselves more than their neighbors; who judge the sins of others as being worse than their own.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ is to love one another, as the King loved us. As we walk that out, take encouragement from pg. 49 of Dad’s Bible. Jesus rewards the faithful and obedient servants of His Word with everlasting life. How much more encouragement do we need?
There is nothing on pg. 49 of Dad’s Bible that will make us prosperous by the world’s standards. The Gospel is totally free as our gift from our Father in heaven. He sacrificed His Son for us. There is no way to take up our cross and follow Him except to humbly serve others less fortunate and without expecting personal gain or earthly honor. Our true reward is His spiritual blessing of life everlasting with Him; which is treasure immeasurable.
“20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~ Hebrews 13:20-21 (KJV)
Note: I apologize to the readers of these “encouragement posts” for lack of citing Bible translation versions of the scriptures that Dad circled or otherwise referenced in his New Testament. The reason I cannot cite is because I am transcribing the featured scripture text verbatim from his Bible (other than taking liberty to capitalize His Holy Name out of reverence). The first 12 numbered pages of his Bible, which would have included Matthew chapter 1-7 are entirely gone; including the title, publishing and copyright pages. The Bible text begins simply on page 13 with verse 12b of Matthew chapter 8. I could guess at the version, but will forbear. Fortunately, there is nothing noted at the bottom of each page by Dad which references those missing pages, so we at least have Dad’s complete message. Thank you for following the “encouragement posts” in spite of this issue. YOU are giving ME great encouragement!
Thanks also, to those following importantstuff.live. The next post Encouragement – “see pg 130” will be posted soon, Lord willing.
Here is a link to the entire scriptural passage on the Parable of the Sheep and Goats for those interested at biblegateway.com.