God powerfully identifies with the poor, weak and oppressed in our world and rewards every act of kindness towards “the least of these”.
Today’s reading will be powerfully enhanced with this song from Leeland:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
- What event is Jesus referring to in this text?
- Who is Jesus referring to by “the Son of Man”? (verse 31; refer to Daniel 7:13-14)
- Note the judgment of the King: what is the reason mentioned for allowing “these to inherit the kingdom prepared”? (verses 34-36)
- List the kindnesses shown by those who inherited the kingdom. (verses 35-36)
- How many kindnesses did the recipients of the kingdom have to show to receive this reward? (v40)
- Why are the recipients of this reward so surprised? (verses 37-40)
Reflection and application questions
- What are the key truths in this texts about (a) eternal judgment, (b) mercy / kindness, and (c) God’s identification with the poor, weak and oppressed?
- Can you recall one poor, weak, sick, or imprisoned person whom you have shown kindness in the past? What does this text say about God’s attitude towards your act of kindness?
- When last have you gone out of your way to show kindness to a weak, poor, or oppressed person?
- Pray for compassion and wisdom, then schedule time this week to show kindness “to one of the least of these”, as though you do it to God himself.