Separating the Livestock | Matthew 25:31-33

Mat 25:31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne. Mat 25:32 All the nations will be gathered in His presence, and He will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Mat 25:33 He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left. Mat 25:34 "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 creation of the world. Mat 25:35 For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. Mat 25:36 I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.' Mat 25:37 "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Mat 25:38 Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? Mat 25:39 When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?' Mat 25:40 "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!' Mat 25:41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. Mat 25:42 For I was hungry, and you didn't feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give Me a drink. Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and you didn't invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit Me.' Mat 25:44 "Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?' Mat 25:45 "And He will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.' Mat 25:46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

This passage is the results of the judgement defined. All the people (sheep and goats) are being separated into two groups; those who did good to others and those who did not. Jesus is very their fruits He will separate them.

Works vs Grace

I find it interesting that most Christians today say that our "works" won't get us into heaven. However we often see ( as in the text above ), when Jesus is talking about the Judgement or entering into the Kingdom of Heaven He mentions our actions as a guide for judging men and as proof of our right to enter. What does this mean?

How do we reconcile this needed resume to enter heaven with the idea of "your works are like filthy rags"?

It is important to notice one thing. The sheep are not aware of their good deeds. They do not feel that they have done anything good for Christ or to Christ; they ask the same questions of the returning King as the goats do. They are being made aware of their good deeds only after the Good Shepherd comes to tell them that they were good sheep.

It is our full and complete dependence upon Jesus Christ as our Savior that will create "good" in us. We will never take the credit for any of our own deeds and we will always feel the deep need for His covering blood to save us. Good deeds will never be done as a source of self righteousness but as a response to the selfless sacrifice of our Redeemer. Now ask yourself this question...have you had that response? Repent of your sins and surrender to the Good Shepherd, He can and will make that change in you.

What does it mean that it is Jesus that we are always interacting with in each of the scenarios that is presented in the passage?

It is Him that the good deeds are done to because His presence is what determines whether or not the deeds where done in our own power, or whether they were done in His power. He reads the heart; we cannot. He is the only one that can do the separating of the livestock and He is the only one by which we can be saved.

Do we take the prison, stranger, naked, sick definitions as actual directives? What about those who are spiritually in prison, spiritually naked, spiritually underfed? 

There are two definitions to the state of those being helped by the sheep. One is the literal definition, the other is the spiritual. Some people are not in prison, but they are definitely behind bars. Some are overfed, but hungry to the point of starvation for the Word of God. Some are very religious, yet they are a stranger to Jesus. Some wear expensive clothing, but are naked in the eyes of God.

Jesus wants us to literally help those who are in prison, feed those who are hungry, cloth the naked and invite the stranger in; but, we must also recognize those spiritual conditions in others and seek to alleviate those needs as well.

Jesus sees the heart. He did when He was alive on this earth and He did it through His walk with the Holy Spirit. We too can have that power through a relationship with Him. That relationship has got to be as important as Jesus' relationship was with His Father. Spend more time in prayer. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."


Father in Heaven,

I repent of my sin today. I repent that I have not put you first as I should have. I have let frivolities and time-wasters become more important than my time with You. I have felt the loss of Your presence and I am truly sorry for neglecting our relationship. Forgive me Lord and fill me with Your Holy Spirit today. Thank You for what You did at the Cross of Calvary.

Please be with my children today. I lift them up to You and ask that You would come into their lives and help them to see You and learn to love You. Forgive their sins Lord. I ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.