“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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 foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)
Today we begin Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples in which He describes what He will do upon His return. Note that this is the first, and only, time Jesus taught His disciples without speaking in a parable. Rather His words very vividly describe exactly what will take place.
Jesus says that when He (the Son of Man) comes again all the angels will come with him. Notice that every single angel will accompany Jesus to earth. It will be pretty amazing and interesting to see all the angels. I wonder how many there are.
When Jesus returns He will sit on His glorious throne and all the nations will be gathered before Him. He will then separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. This is clearly a scene of judgment.
Once again there can be no doubt that Jesus is equating Himself with God here for who else has the authority to judge individual people? If He isn’t God then He’s a liar (knowingly telling a lie) or a lunatic (unknowingly telling a lie).
It’s very interesting to note that when Jesus first walked this earth He was a mistreated prisoner who was put on trial for a crime He did not commit and for which He was executed. When He comes back He will be on the other side – He will be a judge as prophesied hundreds of years before [Jude 14-15].
How amazingly disheartening it will be for those people who maligned, despised, and defamed Jesus are brought before Him and realize their judge is the very one they mistreated during their life.
Note that this judgment is different from the final judgment that takes place at the end of the world [Revelation 20:11-15]. This judgment appears to be specifically related to the Tribulation.
Prior to the Tribulation all believers will have been raptured – removed from the earth – leaving only unbelievers. During the Tribulation people, including many Jews, will come to faith in Jesus but they will be severely persecuted by those who do not believe [Romans 11:25-26; Revelation 7:9,14, 13:5,7].
It appears that when Jesus returns at the end of the seven years of tribulation He will evaluate all people who are alive at the time and will separate them into two groups: the sheep who He will place on His right (the right is a place of honor, such as being someone’s “right-hand man”) and the goats who He will place on the left.
Sheep and goats have very different dispositions. Sheep are docile and obedient. Goats are rambunctious and stubborn. It is for this reason that shepherds keep these animals separated.
When Jesus returns He will similarly separate people and decide which individuals get to enter His millennial kingdom. He will make His decision, as we’ll see over the next two days, based solely on what those individuals already decided about Him.
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