Jesus Separates the Sheep from the Goats
Matthew 25:31-46Jesus uses the picture of a shepherd separating his sheep from his goats to explain what judgment will be like. On the last day, there will be a separation of people. Those who have pleased God will join him in heaven. Those who have not pleased him will be given one-way airline tickets to a place of eternal punishment. In this passage, Jesus explains how helping less fortunate people helps him and talks about how people will be judged by their deeds.
Jesus does not judge them on their apparent religiousness, he judges them on how they treated each other. Interestingly, both groups are surprised by Jesus' judgment. Those whom he rejects object, because they did many works they thought would please him. But Jesus says he never knew them. Apparently these people did not know Jesus well enough to know what really pleases him. They thought they were doing great works, but they ignored the things that pleased Jesus (helping others.) It was not that they did evil things, but they did not do the good things that showed love.
On the other hand, those that did please Jesus were surprised when he said they had helped him. They didn't know that Jesus saw their good works toward their brethren as done to him.
Discussion: Why sheep and goats? God often describes his people as sheep in scripture. Sheep listen to their shepherd, and follow him. They look to him for all their needs and will suffer without him. What are goats like? Goats are stubborn. They resist being told what to do. They'll eat (take in) almost anything, even garbage. People who please God do what he says and look to him for guidance. People who resist God and want to do their own thing are stubborn, and end up accepting the lies and garbage of this world. The goats in the lesson thought they were doing God's work, but they were obviously not listening to how he wanted it done, or they were doing it for their own goals, not his. He didn't even know them.
Worksheets: True or False (Sheep or Goat)
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