We have been looking at people who struggle because they are lacking some of the most basic needs. But Jesus wasn’t talking about other people; He was talking about Himself. He was the one who sick.
You have got to love the reaction of the sheep, the ones Jesus now called “the righteous”. They were surprised! They never recalled seeing Jesus in those dire straits. They did not deny helpings others; they just couldn’t recall seeing Jesus among those they helped.
So why did they help? They saw a need. Period. They gave no thought to the relative merits of the person in need. If someone we knew and loved were in a tough spot, we certainly would step in and help. Or we likely would help one who could do something for us in return. And who wouldn’t jump in to help Jesus?! But the righteous gave no thought to who the needy person was, or what their value to society or to themselves was; all they saw was a person in need.
To the surprise of the righteous, Jesus replied with the most powerful statement in this parable: ” very I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
The second half of the parable is symmetrical with the first half, but the “goats” failed to do everything the righteous freely did. They showed a completely different attitude in their reactions to the situations on Jesus’ list. Whereas the righteous helped out of an instinctive love, the attitude of the unrighteous was calculating. Sure, they would have assisted had they known it was Jesus. Their approach was not to help someone simply because someone needed help, but only when it would benefit them. Helping Jesus surely would win God’s approval; helping just anybody else was not worth their time.
As Christians, we are family! Throughout the new testament, believers in the church are referred to as brothers (and sisters). Jesus said, “for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). It is a great witness to our connection to Christ when we that is the church (brothers and sisters in Christ ) love each other. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Does this mean we don’t have to meet needs outside the church? No! I would help you, but you are not one of us. Our love for Jesus compels us to love others that is, inside and outside the church, and we demonstrate that love when we meet needs. We begin with the family of God but we don’t stop there.
Our identity in Christ is demonstrated in how we live and serve in the community: first, the community of faith and second, the community at large. Let’s serve Jesus at this moment by serving others.
Excerpts from Bible Studies for Life.