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Matthew 25

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be assembled in front of him, and he will cull them out, one from another, like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.

34“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, 35because I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. 36I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37“Then the righteous will say to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or see you naked and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’

40The king will answer them, ‘I tell all of youn with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine (Mark 3:35), you did it for me.’

I was told that it is because people did it out of love and not intentionally obeying a commandment to give, only then they would be made aware that what they had done was to Christ.

But the fact that Jesus taught 'when did we see you(...)' already informs us that when we give/welcome/clothe we know we are doing it to Him. And there are straightforward instructions to give (with promises of rewards):

Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Matthew 5:42

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:33-34

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

Jesus said keeping His commandments is loving Him:

Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” John 14:21

Why then are people asking Jesus questions? Is is for the reason stated?

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The questions asked by both the righteous and the wicked serve separate functions in the drama of this parable:

  • When the righteous ask the questions - "when did we see you ...?" it displays their transformed conversion - they did these things because it was the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23)
  • When the wicked ask the questions - "when did we see you ...?" it is in an attempt at self-justification of their self-sufficiency and attitude of "no need of conversion" mind-set. That is, they were not Spirit-led (Rom 8).

Taken together, these questions show the need for the imitation of Christ in dealing with others - treat other as I (Jesus) would treat them.

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Why are people asking Jesus questions on Matthew 25:37?

Matthew 25 is Christ's discourse to the disciples of their duty to be prepared (Parable of the Ten Virgins), faithful and obedient (Parable of the Talents), in contrast to those unprepared, unfaithful and disobedient. This culminates with:

Matthew 25:35-36: "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me."

Above, He is praising those who demonstrated compassion, whereas just a few verses later, He contrasts these good deeds with those who did none of them:

Matthew 25:42-43: "[For] I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me."

Since all of the earlier passages of Matthew 25 contrast those who are righteous with those who are wicked, Christ is merely stating that which is necessary for all saints to do — many of which the world in general never does, and would, consequently, be cast into the eternal fire “prepared for the Devil and his angels” (25:41).

Christ's questions appear rhetorical in nature:

Matthew 25:37: "Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?'"

And,

Matthew 25:44: "Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’"

These are some of the hypothetical considerations we should all be asking ourselves as we strive to walk in the Light (1 Jn. 1:7). They are the same questions the lost likely never entertain.

Perhaps we should understand that all sins against someone, irrespective of whom we commit them, is ultimately a sin against God. Likewise, every benevolent deed and every obedience to His Word is ultimately attributed to Him — and not necessarily to those whom we actually bestow such righteousness. Author C. S. Lewis once wrote:

[Christ] told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. (Mere Christianity).

The opposite is also true: Christ is the One directly esteemed by all acts of comfort, kindness, and virtue. We might understand that it is beneath a Christian to act unrighteously against anyone.

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The best way to understand the sense of the question of "the righteous" at Matt 25:37-39, and the answer of Jesus at Matt 25:40 is to relate it to the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

The "righteous", like the Samaritan, do not act so as to obey a commandment, but because they recognise a neighbour in someone in need, and take pity on him.

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Matthew 25 contains 3 parables. A question is raised in Matthew 25:37 to illustrate a point. What is the point? It is in verse 40:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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  • So what's the "point"? BTW, the parables of the Ten Virgins and of the Talents are ... parables. Are you counting also the Judgment (25:31-46) a "parable"? Jun 28 at 15:24
  • In this question, yes, I'm considering it as a parable.
    – Tony Chan
    Jun 28 at 15:48
  • I wonder if you apply the notion of "parable" to the image of the "sheep" and of the "goats" or to the Second Coming itself, with the Judgment ... Jun 28 at 16:32
  • Mat 25:31-46 could be seen as one parable.
    – Tony Chan
    Jun 28 at 17:15
  • That's an elusive answer ... Jun 28 at 17:23

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