The Surprise of the Righteous
Text: Matthew 25 : 31 - 46
The righteous were indeed surprised at the gracious words of the King. What could His words mean? If they had literally seen Jesus, of course, they would spare no efforts to minister to Him! But they had not seen Jesus appear to them, or had they?
“Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You,
or thirsty and give You drink?
When did we see You a stranger and take You in,
or naked and clothe You?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”
The righteous were genuinely puzzled. And correctly, they asked for an explanation.
AN EVEN MORE SURPRISING ANSWER!
Of course Jesus would not personally appear as Himself to the world. If people did things for Him because they recognized Him, the significance of their deeds may not be as outstanding! The kind deeds performed out of genuine faith and love counted for even more, because they were done, motivated by compassion.
“And the King will answer and say to them,
‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it
to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”
In order to understand these words better, let us recall a word that Jesus gave to His disciples on another occasion.
“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him
in the midst of them and said,
‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted
and become as little children, you will by no means
enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles
Himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever receives one little child like this in My Name
The believers must have done all those things that Jesus mentioned! They had done many good deeds in the matchless Name of their beloved Saviour! They may not have been conscious that they were doing it as to Jesus Himself personally, but the Lord acknowledged their deeds most graciously.
A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING
Let us take a look at some of the good deeds done and recorded in the New Testament. These would help us understand that the believers in the first century not only possessed great faith, they also performed great things.
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon
them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked;
for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles
(which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite
of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought
the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
1. Great Power
Not everybody was given special powers. The apostles were anointed with special powers to perform mighty signs and wonders!
2. Great Grace
However, all experienced great grace. The manifestation of that grace of God moved hearts to respond appropriately! May we be moved to emulate these examples!
a) No one lacked
The hungry were fed. The thirsty were given drink. The naked were clothed! All who had desperate needs had them met!
b) Sacrificial giving
There would always be some who are poor while others are wealthy. The rich felt so deeply moved by the plight of their poorer brethren that some sold their possessions so as to raise funds to help the less privileged. After all, were they not truly brethren to each other? A fine example was noted. Barnabas, an outstanding believer, set a wonderful example for all. He sold his property and laid the money at the feet of the apostles.
OTHER CLASSIC EXAMPLES
Another classic example that might be cited would be the Macedonian Christians. The Apostle wrote glowingly of them to the Corinthian Church, hailing them as outstanding examples of having learned well the grace of giving. All these things, done for the sake of Christ would be specially remembered by the great King!
“That in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy
and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, beyond
their ability, they were freely willing.”