Sunday School Lesson
Oct 28, 2001
THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS
Bible Background –Matthew 25:31-46
Devotional Reading—1 John 4:7-21
1. To learn that how we treat others is a direct reflection on how we treat CHRIST
2. To learn the difference between serving self and serving GOD
KEEP IN MIND
“ And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 35:40).
In this text we learn that when JESUS comes again, He will judge the nations as a shepherd separates sheep from goats (vv.31-33). The King will welcome the righteous to their inheritance on the basis of their compassionate service to the King (vv.34-36).
The lesson for today calls us to grasp the basic reality in this text which is simply that we serve CHRIST by serving others. It is meant to call us into a sense of responsibility for helping people in need. As we make CHRIST-CENTERED service a vital ingredient of our lifestyles, our LORD will say well done to us when He returns.
There are four key participants in this parable, all of whom play a role in the last judgment: the SON of Man who appears with all His angels (v.31); the nations, or Gentiles, who are divided into those who have and those who have not joined with GOD (v.32); the King (JESUS) (v.34); and brethren, or those who were once judged by man and now are judging the very persons who judged them (v.40). The King is sitting on the throne, and the Gentiles (nations) are standing before the judge.
The judgment of the sheep and goats occurs at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation to determine who may enter the Kingdom of GOD. The basis of the judgment is the relationship of men to CHRIST as demonstrated by their treatment of those who are in need (Matthew 25:34-36).
Those who are saved (sheep) enter the Kingdom prepared for them (v.34), while the lost (goats) go away into eternal punishment (hell,v.46). In the end, the Kingdom consists only of the saved.
1. THE GREAT APPEARING (Matthew 25:31)
Several things come to the forefront in this passage and are definite. First, the SON of man will come. The text states, “when the Son of man comes…” although we do not know when, the time has been set. Next, the second coming will be “in his glory”. JESUS came the first time clothing His glory in a veil of flesh. Instead of being wrapped in light riding upon the chariots of the sun, He was found wrapped in swaddling clothes and sleeping in a manger. But this time His glorious reflection will be splendidly displayed in the furthermost parts of the universe.
Finally, “all the holy angels with him.” When JESUS came the first time the angels sang and glory filled the heaven, but He was not with them there in the heavenly scene. However, this great appearing will be different because He will be with all the holy angels. If this is the case, we can imagine tens of thousands of angels with Him. What a glorious sight.
2. THE GREAT DIVISION (vv.32-40
When JESUS appears there will be a great division. We read that He will separate them one from another as the shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. Here JESUS enters the parabolic mode. Rather than address them as He is separating evil men from good men, or people of faith from unbelievers, he addresses them as He is separating His sheep from the goats. An indication of possession already sets us up to know that the sheep are His and the goats are not.
All nations, whether powerful or powerless, will stand before His throne to be judged. This judgment will not be based on earthly possessions or racial superiority, but on whether they belong to Him. The basis of the division is participation in the nature of CHRIST. One cannot help but think back to the fact that as the Lamb of GOD, JESUS is implying that the sheep share in His nature. By not saying “his goats,” but rather “the goats,” JESUS sets them apart already. What makes the sheep His sheep? It is implied here that they are participants in His nature and they have His character.
There are people in our communities that need our help. We don’t see them because we view them as part of the landscape. We wish they would go away, but JESUS taught us that “inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” The way we treat those in need is how we treat our FATHER in heaven. If we have no regard for our fellow man, we have no regard for our FATHER in heaven.
We make and set conditions, but GOD pardons our many sins of omission in failing to glorify HIM and making man our idol instead. If we really believed in GOD, we would not set conditions before we released our ability to care. GOD loves and takes care of us unconditionally, and HE blesses us continually.
GOD BLESS YOU!!!!
Rev. Chris Lowe, Sr., DD
Email Dr. Lowe
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