What I’m Thinking: How to Prepare

In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus spent a lot of time telling his followers to be ready. In the story of the sheep and the goats, he told them what being ready looks like.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the end of chapter twenty-five of Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 25:31:46). It’s the story we usually refer to as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.

You probably remember it. Like me, I suspect you don’t find it terribly difficult. In the story, at the end of time the Son of Man gathers the peoples of the world and divides them into two groups. One group, he says, “You took care of me during life.” The other group, he says, “You did not.” Neither group recognizes their success or failure and the Son of Man says, “Whenever you did these things or did not do these things for the least of these, my brothers and sisters, well then you did (or didn’t do) it to me.”

This story closes out a lengthy sequence in chapters twenty-four and twenty-five of Matthew in which Jesus has been advising his followers to be prepared for the end of history, for the judgment and the restoration of the world. Throughout this he has been encouraging them, directing them, cajoling them into readiness, into preparation. It hasn’t been quite so clear in most of those stories what that consists of.

In one of those stories it was the oil for the lamps, and what is the oil for the lamp? In another story was the talents and investing them and what does it look like to invest in the coming realm of God?

In this story Jesus made it abundantly clear: It’s about feeding the hungry. It’s about clothing the naked. It’s about visiting those in prison. It’s about tender care for those with whom we share this earth. “When you do these things for the least of these, my brothers and sisters,” said Jesus, “you do it to me.”

And that means we’ve got no excuse. We’ve got no way of coming to God and saying, “Well, I didn’t know what to do” (of course, we had the law and the prophets to tell us as well). Jesus expects us to care for one another. Whether we agree or disagree, whether we’ve been fair or unfair, Jesus expects us to care for one another.

When we do, we care for Christ.

As we come up to Thanksgiving this week, I hope that that is something that you can take to your Thanksgiving tables and to whatever groupings of family and friends that you gather with this weekend (or rather this week), but even more than that I hope that this is a message that we can take to the larger communities of our lives, to the extended family, to the church communities and the work communities, to the civic organizations, to governments, even to nations and to international relations. We’ve been asked to care for one another, and if and when we do so, then we know our God gives thanks.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on November 21, 2023

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