Scripture: Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?…40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Observation: Jesus offers a description of judgment day when the Son of Man returns. What may have been surprising to the first hearers of Jesus’ story is his focus on serving those in need rather than acts of personal piety (fasting, praying, offering sacrifices, and so on). Language in verse 40 “the least of these who are members of my family” would indicate the persons in need are fellow disciples, not outsiders.
Application: I’m the sort of person who is always wondering how the church can connect with those not already present. I’m an evangelist at heart, which is a good thing – most of the time. However, this passage affirms our need to care for those already part of the family of faith. It’s one of the principal marks of Christian community – that we care for one another. And let’s face it, we all need a little help from time to time. An important reminder for me today.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you gave us the commandment to love one another as you first loved us. Today we pray for those who are part of our families of faith who struggle. Give us grace to respond to their needs with love, compassion, and a gentle spirit. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.