By Campus Missionary Mary Rowley, based on Matthew 25:31-46
As a kid, one of my favorite camp songs was called “I Just Wanna Be a Sheep.” I think the title of that song pretty much sums up Matthew 25:31-46. This passage, ominously titled “The Final Judgment,” describes what will happen on the Last Day. Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. If you’re a sheep, good for you! You’ll be headed to eternal life. But if you’re a goat, well, sorry about that, but you’ll be headed to eternal punishment. I’m sure everyone on that day will be singing, “I just wanna be a sheep.”
How can you be a sheep, you ask? You can feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison. Easy, right? Except the sheep in this passage are extremely confused, because instead of saying it the way I phrased it, Jesus says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (verses 35-36). The sheep say, “Wait, when did we do those things for you, Jesus?” And he answers, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (verse 40).
It’s not about what we do for Jesus. After all, Jesus doesn’t really need anything. He’s God and he can get whatever he wants with a snap of his fingers. He has angels attending him at every moment. No, it’s not about what we do for Jesus – it’s about what we do for each other. And as new creations of Christ, we know what we need to do for each other. We do it naturally. We have a new nature, and it tells us when we have the opportunity to serve our fellow man.
Disclaimer: this passage is not telling us that our good works get us to heaven. The sheep receive their blessing and inheritance from the Father before a single word about their good works is spoken. But in our state of salvation, we naturally serve those around us. We want to share what we have. That’s what it means to be a sheep. Sheep don’t like to be alone; they like to be with their fellow sheep, sharing their warmth and protection. We are sheep. Let’s act like it!