Matthew 25:41-46

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just 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 into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41-46

The interesting thing about this story – and the tragic thing about this story – is that everyone is surprised. Those who did the right thing in their lives by those who most needed it were unaware that they were doing anything significant or special. And those who failed to do the right thing had no idea what the right things to do were, and therefore no idea of their own failure. Everyone is surprised….in the story.

But we aren’t living in that story. It is a story that has been told to us. We are on THIS side of it. And this isn’t just any old story. Jesus is telling this story. And he is telling it right before he steps into the last days of his earthly life. While I think we would agree that every word that Jesus teaches us is important, there is something about this one that strikes at the heart of his message, his purpose, and his expectations of his disciples.

We should also notice that there is nothing particularly new about anything that Jesus teaches here. Consider Isaiah 42:6-7, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

If there is anything new at all it is that this is the sort of stuff that Jesus actually DID. He didn’t have much time or patience for picayune matters of religiosity…but he always had time for broken, outcast, hurting, or hungry people. Everyone knows that! Atheists know that!

The scandal of the Christian faith these days (all days?) is how it is that so many have forgotten the simple words of Jesus. The poor? A bunch of welfare queens and deadbeats who ought to go out and get jobs. The hungry? Cut food stamps, it is a waste of hard-earned taxpayer money. Those in prison? They shouldn’t have crossed the border in the first place. The lonely outcasts? Don’t even talk to me about gays or lesbians or transgendered persons or any of the other deviants who suffer and seek to be seen, heard, and accepted.

Do people really believe and say those things? Do Christian people really say those things? Of course, some do. Even some Christians do. Sometimes it seems as if they have little else to say. And they seemingly have no idea how un-Christlike such beliefs are.

No wonder, when asked about religious affiliations, “Nones” are the fastest growing group in our country. It is NOT about the loss of objective truth, or the loss of belief in the teachings in the Bible. It is about the disconnect between the message of Jesus – a message of radical love, inclusivity, basic decency, justice for all – and the messages of the followers of Jesus who have gotten far off track.

Without even realizing it.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, wake us up to the reality of our beliefs and actions. Open our eyes to see the world around us as you see it, the people around us as you see them, ourselves in the mirror as you see us. Open our hearts, our minds, our spirits, that we might follow you, rather than twisting you into our own image. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 25:41-46”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Kerry, While I like the general tone and point of this message, I am uncomfortable accommodating people who have broken legitimate laws and also God’s laws involving acceptable sexual preferences. In my personal walk with the Lord, a rule I follow is that if God has said no to something, then I also say no because I do not want to violate God’s law.

    We may or may not be handling the border issues correctly, but I note that the world is giving the Mexican government a pass on this issue. Do not the Mexican government, the Honduran government, the Guatemalan government, et al, have first responsibility for the health and welfare of their citizens?

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