Sheep and Goats

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells us of how he will separate the sheep and the goats when he comes in his glory.

As quoted by Justin Taylor, Craig Blomberg tells us that this parable is often taken to show that we will ultimately be judged by how we treat the poor and disadvantaged in our world. I certainly have heard this argument used by those who are in positions of spiritual leadership. However, Blomberg also points out that this understanding is wrong, this passage is actually talking about our attitude to Jesus’ disciples.

That is a vital point, but what I hadn’t really picked up on until recently is what we see in verses 41 to 46. There Jesus tells us about the future of the “goats” – those who will be cursed.

Surprisingly, they are not judged on how they react to Jesus directly, but instead they will be judged on the way they have treated Jesus’ disciples! Thinking about it, this is reasonable, because as the disciples proclaim Jesus, the “goats” are rejecting Jesus when they reject the disciples.

All of this is consistent with the promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. Those who bless Abraham and his (spiritual) offspring (Romans 4:16) will be blessed (counted as sheep), and those who curse Abraham and his (spiritual) offspring, will be cursed (counted as goats). As expected, the message of the Bible is consistent across the millennia.

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