The Parable of the Sheep and Goats in these Perilous Times

Kato Mivule | May 10, 2011

For the past few weeks I have been writing about the call that we must respond to as Christians, to minister to those who are suffering around the world due to the many calamities and catastrophes going on. Rather than seek to hide in the many forms of christian escapism, The New Testament teachings are clear about how we should respond.

While a number of Christians are heeding to this call and serving in many noble ministries, helping the poor, orphans, and the suffering of this world, other Christians seem to be caught up in seeking ways to escape the calamities, catastrophes, and disasters, that are happening around the world.

Some are simply waiting to be "raptured out" of this troubled world, others, seek a geographical safe haven to escape, others are simply indifferent. Didn't Jesus Christ say that whoever seeks to gain his life shall lose it? So, we spend our lives trying to save our own selves from the coming danger while at the same time ignoring the plight of others?

Luke 17:33 ASV  Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

So, for those who plan to escape to some geographical safe haven, who will save the 90 year old lady at the nursing home? Who will escape with the orphans? Who has  plan of escape for the thousands of sick, ill, poor and disabled Christian brothers and sisters? What about the thousands who have lost homes due to floods and other natural disasters? Are they simply sinners and maybe God is simply punishing them like some so-called Bible Prophecy Teachers claim?

Are we not being so self absorbed with selfishness here? You plan your own escape but what about the others who don't have the means to do so? Isn't that a type of 'saved by works' Christianity? The point is that there are lots of theology today in Christendom mainly concerned with saving our own selves but yet missing the point.

Yet when we turn to the scriptures in the New Testament, we see Jesus Christ speaking in context of His end time prophecy teachings tell the story about the Sheep and the Goats...

Matthew 25:31-36 ASV  But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:  (32)  and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats;  (33)  and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  (35)  for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in;  (36)  naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Some theologians have made claims that this parable only refers to Israel and not Christians. However, when you look closely at this parable , you see that Jesus Christ speaks about gathering ALL nations before Him and separating the sheep from the goats. Therefore Christians are addressed too by Jesus Christ in this parable.

The key point in this parable is caring for the suffering. We must remember that Jesus Christ mentions this parable in context with the end times teaching in Matthew 24. Therefore, Jesus Christ knew that there would be immense sufferings in the last days prior to His return on earth and one of the ministries that every christian was to do is care for the sufferings.

We see that the goats represented those who did not care or refused to respond to the need to minister to the suffering and the sheep represented those who responded to call to minister to those who were suffering. So, if you are saved and a believer in Jesus Christ, you should respond to the call.

We also notice that Jesus Christ did not judge based on the economic status of an individual. We don't see that He told the rich go to the left and the poor to the right. One could be poor but stingy and totally cold hearted towards others in the same plight. One could be rich but generous and responsive to the needs of the many suffering. The point is that every Christian, regardless of your economic status can do something to minister to the suffering around us. Secondly, I believe that this is one of the greatest opportunity to make Jesus Christ known not just by our words but actions as well.

As we live in these perilous times, the love of many will grow cold and people will increasingly become self absorbed and so selfish and narcissistic that they will view anything as only working for their own best interest, exactly as Paul the apostle wrote to Timothy...

2 Timothy 3:1-4 KJV  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  (2)  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  (3)  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  (4)  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

You notice that all those sins mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 all center around narcissism, they are the perfect traits of our narcissistic society today. The anecdote to such narcissism is that we reach out and think about ministering to others in these perilous times, rather than seek our own escape, it is time that we respond to The Lord's call on serving others and let The Lord in all His providence provide the escape. Of  course begin with your loved ones, reach out and find out the needs and respond within your ability, then reach out to others, both Christian and none Christian, reach out and help with the little you have, that will make a huge difference in Jesus Christ's Name.

We see here in the parable of the sheep and goats that Jesus Christ clearly states that serving those who are suffering, that is , the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, those in prison, (referring to them as "the least of these my brethren", since Jesus Christ suffered as they),  is serving Christ...

Matthew 25:37-40 KJV  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  (38)  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  (39)  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  (40)  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.

We see that there is a clear warning to the narcissistic, the greedy, the stingy, the self absorbed that eternal damnation waits them...

Matthew 25:41-46 KJV  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  (42)  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  (43)  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  (44)  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  (45)  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  (46)  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Yes, these are serious New Testament bible verses that we cannot simply ignore. We have to take action and that time is now given all the suffering happening around the world. We have no excuse as Christians but to respond. Rather than engage our selves in useless politics and religious right movements, it would be better to respond to such a noble call, one that every Christian regardless of economic status can participate in. Rather than wait for governments to respond to the needs of the sufferings, why don't we Christians respond to that call?

While we desire and hope for Jesus Christ to return and establish His Kingdom on earth, in the meantime, let us reach out, let us get out of our comfort zones and respond to the call to minister to the suffering of this world in Jesus Name!

Kato M