Friday 11 October 2013

Matthew 25:31-46 - Sheep and goats

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Matthew 25:31-46 makes the basis of judgement as plain as it can be. Are you a sheep, placed on Jesus' right? Or are you a goat, placed on his left? Do you face eternal life or eternal punishment? And in any case, what do these terms mean?

We sometimes think of eternal life as a never ending time of joy and peace and happiness. We sometimes think of eternal punishment as constant pain and torment in a raging fire and separation from everything that is good. We think in terms of heaven and hell, but what do we imagine those to be like?

The fact is we have some clues but we cannot know for sure and opinions differ widely. What we can say is that there is a significant difference between being on his right or on his left. There's no mention of faith in this passage, but there is a strong reference to the results of following Jesus and becoming more and more like him. Following comes from believing; nobody would follow a person they don't believe in. In that sense following or not following is evidence of believing or not believing. It's evidence of faith or lack of faith.

Jesus always had a heart for the sick, the oppressed, the hungry, and the weak. So should we. In the end, those on the right did the things that he does, those on the left did not. Those on the right he welcomes, those on the left he rejects.

Will Jesus judge you to be a sheep or a goat?

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