Jesus Separates the Sheep from the Goats
Matthew 25:31-46Jesus uses the picture of a shepherd separating his sheep from his goats to explain what judgment will be like. On the last day, there will be a separation of people. Those who have placed their faith in God, and done the things he cares about, will join him in heaven. Those whose motives were selfish were not accepted by God.
Jesus does not judge people on their apparent religiousness, he judges them on how they loved God and loved others. Interestingly, both groups are surprised by Jesus' judgment. Those whom he rejects object, because they did many works they thought would please him. But Jesus says he never knew them. Apparently these people did not know Jesus well enough to know what really pleases him. They thought they were doing great works, but they ignored the things that pleased Jesus (helping others.) It was not that they did evil things, but they did not do the good things that showed love.
On the other hand, those that did please Jesus were surprised when he said they had helped him. They didn't know that Jesus saw their good works toward their brethren as done to him.
Discussion: Why sheep and goats? God often describes his people as sheep in scripture. Sheep listen to their shepherd, and follow him. They look to him for all their needs and will suffer without him. What are goats like? Goats are stubborn. They resist being told what to do. They'll eat (take in) almost anything, even garbage. People who please God do what he says and look to him for guidance. People who resist God and want to do their own thing are stubborn, and end up accepting the lies and garbage of this world. The goats in the lesson thought they were doing God's work, but they were obviously not listening to how he wanted it done, or they were doing it for their own goals, not his. He didn't even know them.
Worksheets: True or False (Sheep or Goat)