Does He Mean Me?

Just the text: 

Matthew 25: 32-46 (The Message

32 Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, 33 putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. 35 And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ 39 40 Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. 42 And why? Because – I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ 44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ 45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me – you failed to do it to me.’ 46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

 Now, just some questions:

  1. Is Jesus really saying that I am to do these things personally- does he mean me or is this some general parable that I can take figuratively?
  2. How do these things fit into what I have prioritized as most important in my Christian walk?
  3. Who are the “overlooked and ignored?”
  4. Are these kinds of people really worth our effort?  (After all in terms of contributing to the church they seem to offer little.)
  5. Is Jesus really in these kinds of people?
  6. What difference would it make if we believed he was? Why?
  7. Will we really be sent to our “eternal doom” if we fail to do these things?
  8. What kind of difference can we make if we do them?
  9. Is there any significance in the placement of this story in the timeline of Christ’s ministry? What might that be?
  10. Why do you think Jesus reacts as he does to those he calls the “goats?”
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4 Responses to Does He Mean Me?

  1. Donna says:

    The one passage of scripture that will always keep me humble. Sometimes it haunts me. The reality is what it is talking about is so very little of what we make church about….

  2. dannydodd says:

    “The reality is what it is talking about is so very little of what we make church about….”

    Exactly, Donna.

  3. scottie says:

    I don’t really believe in any theological system that brings man to God–churches and man-made doctrines (while not all bad) fall short. They fail to realize what I think is the heart of this passage–that connection with God or Truth or whatever that is, is found in how we relate to those around us. We need to realize we are all connected and in some sense it is how we respond to each other regardless of position in life that will ultimately decide how humanity plays out.

    Danny, you know how much I value and respect you and our friendship, but question number 4 saddens me. This passage has (or maybe I should say should have) little or no relevance to the corporate church…it (in my opinion) is the question of you the individual.

    If those out there are thinking that the goal is to help people in order to bring people into a church because they think that is where they find God are missing the point…this passage is about the individual…not the man made organization or systems that often serve (albeit unintentionally) to worry more about organizational goals (numbers, budgets, programs, etc.) than fostering a place where the individual can search for Truth in whatever form that may come in.

    I am not slamming or indicting churches in general –at their best they do a lot to provide people comfort that they are not alone–I am just saying that this passage is probably one of the few places where the corporate aspect of whatever brand of Christianity is not the focus. The thing that is so scary about this passage to most is that there is no place to hide…it is about how you the individual met these principles…there are no systems or congregational doctrines to hide behind or to justify ones self anywhere in that passage. Notice that even the sheep were unaware of what they were doing…it was not a doctrine to be followed, it was a lifestyle that was innate. Tough to get to that point…

    Talk to you soon brother…
    scottie

  4. dannydodd says:

    Thanks Scottie- you made one of the points I was striving to stir up in point #4.

    Back in the Joy Bus day I knew of a church that stopped this ministry because the folks being picked up- in the opinion of church leadership- did not offer “anything” to the bottom line of the church and in addition, were “marking on the walls” in the classroom.

    Impossible to reconcile that attitude with what Jesus is saying in this text. You are right- no place to hide that here.

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