Sheep and the Goats
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
All of the nations and peoples are gathered before him. And like a shepherd, he separates the sheep in the flock from the goats.
Christ then addresses the sheep at his right hand. He invites them to enter into the heavenly realm. “Because when I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. You clothed me when I had nothing to wear, you took care of me when I was in sick, and when I was in prison, you visited me.”
The people at his right hand were confused. “What are you talking about, Lord? We never did any of these things!”
“Ah, but you did! When you did these actions for the least among you, you were doing them to me.”
By the same token, Christ snubs those gathered at his left hand. They had not fed or cared for him. They argue that he is falsely accusing them. “We NEVER neglected you, Lord!” And Christ says that when they failed to help their neighbor in need, they had, in fact, neglected him.
The story is told about an aging king who had no heir. He wanted to select someone to be the next king. And chiefly, he wanted this new king to love the people of his land as much as he did.
So he sent a message to the young men in every corner of his kingdom. He invited them to an interview. From those who interviewed, the king would appoint his successor.
This news came to one very poor man living in a remote village on the edge of the kingdom. He was a kind-hearted man and very hard working. But, alas, he had nothing presentable to wear for an audience with the king. So he worked extra hard and earned enough money to purchase a new set of clothing and for supplies for his long journey.
He packed up his new clothes in his bag and set out for the royal palace. He travelled many days. When he was about a half day’s journey from the palace, there he came upon a poor beggar along the road. This man was in miserable condition! He was dirty and wore tattered rags for clothing. He was trembling from the cold. He extended his arms to the young man and weakly cried, “Please, sir, can you help me?”
The young man’s heart was moved. The only other clothing he had was the new set of clothes he was going to put on to meet with the king. Nevertheless, he opened his bag and gave the clothing to the wretched man. Then he shared what food he had left. The beggar thanked him repeatedly for all the young man had done.
Well, the young man continued on to the royal palace. But now he only had the dirty travelling clothes on his back to meet with the king! Before his interview, he cleaned up as best he could.
The royal attendants led him to the room where he would meet with his king. He bowed low as the king entered. And when he arose, he was shocked to see his king. It was the same beggar man he had met along the road!
“Your royal highness,” he said, “why were you along the roadside in misery?”
The king answered, “I needed to see what is in your heart. If I had only met you here, you would have treated me with the respect due to a king. But when you saw me as a poor beggar, you had nothing to gain and only much to lose by helping me! But you showed compassion and generosity to me nevertheless. I saw someone who loves his fellow man. I can see now that you have a heart to serve the people of this land.”
Does Jesus reign in our hearts? If so, then something happens. His values become our values. His compassion fills every corner of our being: that same compassion which moved him to dwell with us and redeem us through the infinite mercies of heaven.
And when Jesus reigns in our hearts, it also affects our vision. As our eyes look upon our neighbors, we see them through the eyes of Christ. We see them as Christ sees them: the beloved children of God.
Every time we feed the hungry, Christ reigns in our hearts.
Every time we clothe the naked, Christ reigns in our hearts.
When we bind up the wounded, when we care for the poor, Christ reigns in our hearts.
Christ is a king like no other. That’s because His kingdom is not of this world. But may He reign in our hearts!
Question to Ponder:
Does Jesus reign in my heart?
Have a blessed week that Jesus would reign in your heart!