Read Matthew 25:31-46
The attentive student of God’s Word probably recognizes that today’s reading does not meet the complete definition of a parable. Indeed, there is symbolism in the story.
Jesus refers to people as either sheep or goats. Meanwhile, the symbolism is mingled with clear statements of the Son of Man’s return with His angels. So, though the judgment described is not parabolic in the classical sense, it is worthy of our consideration in this devotional series on the parables of Jesus.
Jesus will return! The return spoken of here is not His return in the air for His saints (rapture). This return is His return to the earth with His saints (revelation). This return will take place after a roughly seven-year period we call the tribulation. At the time of this return, Jesus will gather the nations as He judges individuals. And this judgment will separate people into two separate camps: sheep and goats.
Be careful that you recognize that this judgment is one of fruit that points to a deeper root. By that I mean that the “sheep” are those commended for offering food, drink, hospitality, clothing, and care to “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.” Now, I hope that you realize that salvation never has been nor ever will be a product of good works. Instead, it is based on faith in the work of Christ and gives rise to good works. These sheep, then, are those demonstrating caring compassion for God’s people, the Jews, during the time of the tribulation. And this caring compassion flows out of their own personal faith in the work of Jesus on their behalf. As a result, they are saved eternally.
Meanwhile, the goats demonstrate their lack of faith in that they ignore the needs of believing Jews during that same time period. They will experience eternal judgment.
Don’t be confused. Salvation always has been, currently is, and always will be the product of the grace of God extended to those who express personal faith in the work of Jesus.
Meanwhile, don’t be naïve. Those who express genuine faith in Jesus will demonstrate it in their own works.