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Matthew 25:31-46 is a detailed description of the judgment that the son of man, Jesus Christ, will carry on the nations of the world (Barton, 2010). It describes how Jesus prophecies to reveal himself in glory when he punishes and rewards the ‘goats’ and the ‘sheep’ respectively. It emphasizes on the three main points that include; the coming of the son of man (25:31-33), the eternal life (25:34-40), and the eternal punishment (25:41-46).

The Coming of the Son of Man

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The first verse of the parable describes the coming of the son of man in his glory. The author applied the term ‘the son of man’ to denote the Messiah, as it was Jesus to name himself so. The parable prophesies the Second Advent of Jesus Christ a King of all that is going to be an exceptional event in history, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne” (25:31). It is at this time that the nations will come and gather before him, to receive the final judgment. The ‘glory’ indicates the power that Jesus holds to judge people, separating the goats from sheep (Barton, 2010). The Messiah will put the sheep on the right side, and the goats on the left side, thus determining their fate.

The Eternal Life

Jesus compares the righteous men with sheep, an animal that is used in the Bible as a symbol of a complaisant person. He promises to reward such people with the eternal life. Moreover, Jesus Christ not only warms about the Great Account to come but also teaches people how to merit heaven. The good works of kindness to the less fortunate are the criteria in getting the eternal life. Jesus promises the ‘sheep’ position on the right side of God (Barton, 2010). The expression ‘right side’ is another allusion, as to be on the right side of a noble man meant to be almost his equal; it meant honor and favor of a person. Jesus claims that he will choose those who generously and kindly provided him with everything needed when he stayed in prison or was sick (25:35-36). Humanly, it is impossible to understand how one may help God (Barton, 2010). It is natural that people in the parable ask, and the Lord explains. Jesus assures them that whatever they did to the least of their brothers and sisters they did to him (25:40); therefore, they will be rewarded with the eternal life (25:34).

The Eternal Punishment                          

Description of the eternal punishment for the unrighteous is another significant part of the parable. Jesus warns that goats on his left will go away to eternal punishment into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels (25:41). These people did not manage to show the acts of kindness to the son of man who needed help in their poor brothers and sisters (25:42-43). The Messiah compares such people to goats, who are a symbol of evil in the Bible, because of their unpredictable and capricious nature. Moreover, the metaphor is associated with the old Hebrew tradition when priests symbolically laid all people’s sins upon a scapegoat.

The message of the parable still is topical for today’s Church and society. It urges Christians to be righteous sheep, and take care of the needy, as a way of serving the Lord. The God’s people should also prepare for his coming by remaining pious and keeping awake. The fruit of the obedience will be the eternal life (Heil, 1998).

Some of the ideas expressed in this parable may be challenging to Christians today. With the fact that many Christians have focused on their lives, they have undermined the fundamental teaching of the fragment in question (Barton, 2010). People have become selfish; they hate others, ignore the poor and the needy. The busy tempo of modern life makes them neglect their brothers and sisters in prisons and the hungry ones on the streets and in hospitals. The issue of welcoming strangers may be a challenge to them due to lack of trust and faith in the unknown person (Barton, 2010). Finally, it is Jesus who renders judgment, and he is the one who will separate the sheep from the goats; he holds the final verdict of the righteous and unrighteous (Heil, 1998).

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