Re-evaluating Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of 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 took Me in; 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? 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?’ 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.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting 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 take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, 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, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch 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 everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

In meditating on this section of scripture last Monday or Tuesday, I sensed that the Lord was trying to enlarge my capacity to see this story (this truth) in a whole new light. I know that many capable ones with much more education than myself and many more years as a Christian than myself have set out to explain this section of divine writ.  But just maybe the Lord can use my words to expand our thinking and our perception of this story.  Let us begin by saying that this is not a parable.  This will take place, and not too many days hence.  For He who is coming will come and He will not tarry.

Let us first notice that there are six things mentioned: 1) Hunger, 2) Thirst, 3) A Stranger, 4) Naked, 5) Sick, and 6) In Prison.  Could it be that this might mean something spiritual and not just natural?  Don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way; I think we should be doing all of the above things in the natural.  We should be helping people at every turn.  But let us remember that Paul (the Holy Spirit actually) said, “Do good unto all men, but especially unto those of the household of faith.1”  So then the Holy Spirit is delineating a class of people who are more important in His eyes than others.  And this group of people is the believers.  And please remember that when the Lord prayed in John 17:9 that He didn’t pray for the world but for those whom the Father had given unto Him.  His own words being, “I do NOT pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me.” And Paul wrote in Romans 12:13 to contribute to the needs of the saints.

So then, with this in mind; please notice a little looked-over phrase in the above section of scripture, “in as much as you did it unto one of the least of these My brethren”  Now we have an understanding that this is dealing with how people treated His brethren.  But lets make it more personal.  How am I treating His brethren?  In any large family there are going to be those who are hungry, thirsty, feeling left out as a stranger would, in need of clothing, sick, and even some in prison.

Jesus said that the words that He spoke to us were spirit and life.  Did Jesus take care of people in the natural?  Sure He did; but He was always bringing it back to the spiritual.  And in the same verse in John 6:63, He said, “the spirit gives life but the flesh profits nothing.”  So with that in mind, lets look at a few things from a different perspective.

Hunger: we should be feeding people spiritual food more than we are giving them natural food.  We should be doing the former and not leaving the latter undone.  Many are very into the natural provision, but are greatly lacking in the spiritual food.  Beloved, which is better: to give someone the manna from Heaven or natural food? Jesus told the disciples in John 4:32 that He had meat to eat that they knew not of.  In John 6:27 He said, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”  So let us strive to feed our brethren that eternal food which perishes not, because it is this food that will help him more than any other.  God will feed him just as He does everyone else in the world.  Even Jesus said that we should not be worrying about what we should eat, drink, or wear; because our Father knows we have need of these things and will give them to us.

Some may ask,  “what brethren are these that have need of spiritual food”?  Every single one of our brothers and sisters need to be fed God’s word on a daily basis.  There are some among our very ranks who are dying on the vine and in dire need of spiritual food.  Are you feeding them?  Jesus said in Mark 6:36, “you give them to eat.”

Whose responsibility is it to feed them?  Some would say, “it’s the shepherd’s responsibility.” And to that I would say that you are gravely mistaken because you do not know the scriptures which plainly say that the gifting of a shepherd is to equip you to go out and do the work of the ministry2.  You are to be feeding anyone you see who has need of spiritual attention.  By refusing to do this and turning away from it is the same as doing it unto the Lord Himself (as we just read in our scripture text above)!!  If you are not feeding your brethren in the Lord or anyone else who has a need that you see…then this is the exact same as seeing a man laying wounded on the road to Jericho and just passing him by after seeing him.  You will notice that the Priest and the Levite both saw him and just passed him by.

Yeah…to feed someone means it’s going to cost you something.  Time, money, convenience, and the death to self.  If you could just see these men in jail after I “feed” them, then you would really understand and see that feeding His lambs and tending His sheep is all of our responsibility, and not just for a few.

Thirst: Many are very thirsty for something real.  What does cold water do to a thirsty dying man?  It brings life, comfort, refreshment, and hope.  Cold water fights back the heat.  Do you remember what Proverbs 25:25 says?  “Like cold water to a weary soul…” The water is the word of God my friend.  All throughout scripture, the word of God is referred to as water.  (Jesus was the word – they drank from that spiritual Rock that followed them – the washing of the water of the word, etc., etc., etc).  People need spiritual food, but a drink of cold water to wash it down really compliments it.  This is follow-up and discipleship. Yeah…it means more of your time, more of your resources, more of your self involved in another’s life.  He never said go into the world and make converts; He said go into all the world and make disciples.  Jesus poured His life into 12 men, even though He knew that one of them would not make it.  He still labored for them.  The rest of that Proverbs 25:25 verse says, “is good news from a far country.” Brethren, we know what the “good news” is; it is the gospel – and we should know that the “far country” is referring to heaven.  Jesus makes this “far country” statement many times in His parables.  So then we should be giving the word of God (that originally came from a far country) to the weary soul who is thirsty.  Some would say, “How can you tell if a man is really thirsty?” Is he weary, is he drying (or dying) on the vine, has he lost his tenderness, has he lost hope, does he need a drink?  Any spiritual man can tell if another is thirsty.  Brethren, sometimes we need to hold up their heads for them as they’re lying down in their own desert and put the water in their mouth for them.  Can’t you see this?  I saw a man sitting on his porch Saturday in the worst part of Wichita and I just went up to him by the Spirit and fed him the words of life and then followed it up with a cold glass of water which was a word of encouragement followed by a heartfelt prayer for him and his circumstances.  He was soooooooo deeply moved.  You should have seen it.  You would have wept.

A Stranger: Is your brother or sister in the Lord a stranger to you?  It is up to those of us who are further along to see that these are no longer strangers.  Take them into your heart, take them into your prayer closet, and take them into your affections.  Treat them truly as you would a natural sibling…yes, more than a natural sibling.  People just need to be loved and appreciated.  I remember one time I was bidding a drywall job and I ended up being $4,000.00 higher than the other guy.  The client (a lady) gave me the job after saying to me the following words: “you treated me like a queen and made me feel like I could really do this new business venture; and that is worth an extra four grand to me.”  I had never met this lady before, but I loved her because she was a creation of God.  And that love which came from God she felt…she touched it…she needed it.  No one is a stranger to me.  Will Rogers once said, “I’ve never met a man I didn’t like.” God has brought me to the place that I can now say, “I’m not meeting any person anymore that I do not love.”  The man on the road to Jericho was a stranger to the traveler.  He went out of his way to take this stranger in and care for him.  Jesus has done this for you and me by leaving us in the care of the Holy Spirit while He is away; should we not do the same for others.  Let your brothers and sisters know they are loved, needed, and appreciated.  Let them become a part of your family, a part of your heart…and treat your neighbor the same.

Naked: This goes without saying.  Spiritual nakedness deals with a man’s walk before the Lord. Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.3  And remember the man on the road to Jericho?  What did the thieves take?  You’ll take notice they didn’t rob him of his possessions, but of his clothing.  Interesting isn’t it?  They stole his clothes.   I’ve never heard of a robber who takes someone’s very clothes from them…they’re usually after his possessions.  The man was a traveler.  He had possessions, money, a bag, a staff, maybe more.  But the thieves took his clothes.  Brethren, a lot of our brothers and sisters are walking around naked right now because satan has wounded them and stripped them and left them for dead.  “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.4  Many of you reading this today may be naked spiritually.  Revelation 19:8 says, “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean: for the fine linen is he righteous acts of the saints.”  Sometimes people need help putting their “clothes” back on.  Do you know a backslidden one?  Help them with their garment and with their robe.  Because I’m afraid that some are just following the Lord wearing nothing more than just a sheet  (Mark 14:51).  And when the pressure comes, even the sheet is lost and they flee naked and alone in the dark.5

You will remember from an earlier teaching how that I showed from Isaiah 61, Psalm 45, and Psalm 5 that if you’re a Christian then you’re protected three different ways from nakedness: you have on a garment of salvation, a robe of righteousness, and you are surrounded with a shield of light.  And we learned that it was your responsibility to keep both sets of your garments clean (we learned in the same teaching what soils and stains those 2 sets of clothing).  Brethren, these are spiritual issues.  You must begin to see these truths with your heart and that begins with much time and meditation in His word and much time on your knees before Him in deep humility and brokenness. When I see a Christian whose garments are stained or soiled, I go out of my way to “change” him so-to-speak.  Not change him, but his garments.  How is this done?  With love, patience, time, and teaching.  Putting out another man’s candle will never make yours shine any brighter.  I don’t judge the brother (for he’s already under judgement to his own heart).  I reconcile him in whatever area he needs reconciliation in.  I am known in this city (Wichita, KS) for restoring ministers who have fallen.  Why do they come to me so often?  Because they can trust me and they know that I can help lead them back and give them the answers for a fresh set of garments.  I just love them…no matter what they’ve done…I just love them.  I just teach them from God’s word what caused their circumstances and then I deal with the sin and then I restore them.  Knowing that if I don’t show them His love, then in a sense the Lord can’t, because He loves (shows the manifestation of His love) through us.  Does anyone remember how Yonggi-Cho got saved?  He saw the love in a Christian.  He saw the love and he touched the love.  He had less than 3 months to live and he was a buddhist.  And this girl came to his home each day and just loved him and spoke the words of life to him; and of course the rest is history.

Sick: Jesus said the well need not a physician, but they that are sick.  We know He is talking about spiritual sickness here and not natural sickness.  Go look at the reference.  Many of our brethren are sick and in need of attention.  What did Jesus do?  He poured on oil and wine.  The Spirit and the word.  Praise the Lord!!  Don’t find fault and criticize your brother for his faults, failures, or shortcomings.  Don’t you think he’s aware of it?  People just need healing.  Point them to the brazen serpent on the pole.  Lead them to the great Physician who will heal them.  Listen to just a few verses from Proverbs (and there are many more): “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.” – “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the words of the wise brings healing.” – “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue breaks the spirit.” Some people are sick in their souls and some are sick in their spirit.  A wise one knows how to medicate both and realizes that one who is sick in his spirit is also sick in his soul.  People have many soulish and spiritual ailments and it behooves us to help them and if we don’t or won’t, it’s probably because we are sick ourselves.  For how can a lame man help another lame man?  Many in the body of Christ today are in a bad way.  They’re on the battlefield, wounded.  Don’t kick them while they’re down.  Run out there and carry them home and help them.  They may have failed terribly (haven’t we all), they may have backslid (haven’t we all), they may have given up (haven’t we all at one time or another)?  Let’s begin to love people…really love people and care for them and shepherd them and lead them to fresh cold water and good green grass.  We don’t need to evaluate their sickness or their symptoms (by judging them or talking about it with others); let’s just love on them, speak healing words to them, and treat them the same way the Lord treated us when we needed Him.

In Prison:  Many people are in prisons in their minds and hearts.  They may be trapped in a particular sin that they just can’t seem to get free of.  Many are in a prison of their own making; but many are in a prison because our common enemy satan is at work behind the scenes trying to mar God’s image.  We hold the keys to their prisons.  It’s the word of God.  Let’s set the prisoner free.  Don’t you remember the Lord in Luke 4 talking about how the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him to….”set the captives free?6”  Many are in prisons to their circumstances, many are in prisons to their fears, many are in prisons to their sin, many are in prisons to their loneliness or their broken-heartedness, and many are in prisons to their paradigms.  It doesn’t matter what prison they are in or how they got there.  No one wants to be in a prison.  Most want to be set free…and we have the key to their prison.  And that key is the word of God, the love of God, and the life of God.  I met a man a while back who was a Christian and in a prison to a wheelchair.  I was at a barbeque at his home and during this visit he was very morose and I asked him what was getting him down and he wept and said that the wheelchair for the last 15 years had really affected his life and he was just getting sick of it.  I reached out with the love of God and the faith of Christ and lifted him out of the wheelchair and told him that Jesus the Christ had healed him.  He walked and put the wheelchair away in the closet and shouted the victory as his family did also.  I didn’t do anything wonderful or great.  I just saw a man in a prison who loved God and wanted out of the prison and I had the key at the moment. And what a great key it was.  I have met other men who were in prisons to their education and just could not see Christ. So I pulled out a different key to unlock their prison and they saw Christ in one moment of time and gave their hearts to Him.  I have met other men who were in prisons of great sin and I cast the devil out of them and they could begin to see, live, and function properly. It’s not our job to condemn, judge, or find fault.  It is our job to set the captives free.

I pray this little article has helped you.  It has truly helped me to have my heart enlarged to see this passage of scripture in a different light.   Will I be a sheep on His right hand, or a goat on His left hand?  The choice is mine.  Look at the section carefully and you will notice only one single thing between the two groups of people.  The only difference was what they did………………….and did not……………….DO!!!  Think about it.  And I’ll see you on the front lines.

  1. Galatians 6:10
  2. Ephesians 4:12 For the equipping of the saints so that they (the saints) can do the work of the ministry.
  3. Revelation 16:15
  4. Revelation 3:17
  5. Mark 14:51
  6. Luke 4:18




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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Joel 2:1