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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse # 72

Matthew 25:31-46 God will separate His obedient followers from pretenders and unbelievers. The real evidence of our belief is the way we act. To treat all persons we encounter as if they are Jesus is no easy task. What we do for others demonstrates what we really think about Jesus' words to us - feed the hungry, give the homeless a place to stay, look after the sick. How well do your actions separate you from pretenders and unbelievers?

Matthew 25:32 Jesus used sheep and goats to picture the division between believers and unbelievers. Sheep and goats grazed together but were separated when it came time to shear the sheep. Ezekiel 34:17-24 also refers to the separation of sheep and goats.

Matthew 25:34-40 This parable describes acts of mercy we all can do every day. These acts do not depend on wealth, ability, or intelligence; they are simple acts freely given and freely received. We have no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs, and we cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or government. Jesus demands our personal involvement in caring for others needs.

Matthew 25:40 There have been much discussion about the identity of the "brethren." Some have said they are the Jews; others say they all are Christians; still others say they are suffering people everywhere. Such a debate is much like the lawyer's earlier question to Jesus. "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29). The point of this parable is not "who" but "what" the importance of serving where service is needed. The focus of this parable is that we should love every person and serve anyone we can. Such love for others glorifies God by reflecting our love for Him.

1 comment:

  1. In Matthew, Jesus is indeed full of teaching about loving our neighbor, which includes even our enemies. By doing practical acts of mercy toward those in need, we show we are not only hearers of Jesus' word but doers (the wise ones who build our house on the rock).

    Matthew is also full of Jesus' teaching about mission. In Mt. 10 he teaches his disciples about mission, telling them to go around Israel and depend on the hospitality (mercy) of others (for food and shelter). Those who receive these disciples receive him (10:40); even giving a thirsty disciple on mission a cup of cold water will be rewarded (in the end) (10:42).

    In Mt. 25 Jesus is showing the rewards (and punishments) of all the nations in the end. It all depends on how they reacted to Jesus' brothers (and sisters). When his disciples hear these words about Jesus' brothers who are thirsty, hungry, in prison, etc., they would identify with their own mission experience. How people showed mercy to these poor, persecuted disciples showed whether they were becoming disciples themselves. (In Mt. 12:48-50
    Jesus tells his disciples they are his brothers and sisters and mother.) The point is that disciples should go to all the nations and teach everything Jesus commanded, because the final judgment of the nations depends on this mission. As they go out representing Christ, Christ will be with them until the end of the age (Mt. 28:18-20).