Sheep and Goats

January 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Jesus’ final speech before the story of His passion is a speech about judgment and mercy (Matthew 25:31-46).  In fact, it shows how judgment and mercy belong together.  Jesus talks about His judgment at His second coming when He will separate the sheep from the goats (25:31-33).  And the criteria for separating them will be based upon our ability to show mercy (25:34-36):  “For I was hungry and you gave me something/nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something/nothing to drink.  I was a stranger and you (did not) invited me in.  I needed clothes and you (did not) clothed me.  I was sick and you (did not) looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me/did not look after me” (25:35-36, 42-43).  Therefore, Jesus’ speech on the last judgment is focused on the life of mercy lived out by those who call out “Lord, Lord!”  The criteria for judgment is not one’s confession of faith or one’s moral character but the mercy we have lived.  Rather than considering ourselves the keepers of the mysteries of God in our worship, in church, and in our personal spiritual lives, we have to discover that God is already outside our circle in the midst of the hungry, thirsty, etc.  Mission in our own community or anywhere else is an outward move towards God who we will find among “the least of these brothers” of Jesus (25:40).  How will we be judged on this in 2011?

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