We are continuing with Jesus on the Mount of Olives. Today we will read the last words Jesus imparted to His disciples concerning the end of the age and His coming again. In yesterday’s reading we looked at the parable of the five, two, and one talents. At the end of the parable, the master called for a reckoning when he returned. Today we will look at Jesus’ upcoming reckoning.
Jesus tells His disciples what will happen at the end of the age and at the beginning of His reign. When Jesus arrives on the scene for the second time, He comes prepared to do battle. He sends out His angels and gathers His elect. He then defeats Satan and all his supporters and dispatches them to their assigned reward or holding place. THEN He sits on His throne here on Earth. At that time, all those who survived to the end will be judged.
Those that remained here on Earth during the tribulation were enduring a time of testing. I believe that those who believed in Jesus were removed in the rapture just prior to the beginning of the tribulation. There are a few schools of thought on this issue, but I’m going to skip those and get back to the judgement time. Those who come before Jesus for this judgement are people who survived the tribulation. Some will have become believers during this terrible time and others will have become even more entrenched in Satan’s schemes. Both of these will be standing before Jesus that day.
The inclusion in the sheep or goats appears on the surface to be based on who ministered to those in need. But that is not the whole story. Verses 37 and 46 gives us the identifying criteria. The righteous enter into eternal life. How did the one group become righteous? Through faith in Jesus Christ. But because of their faith in Jesus Christ, they ministered to others in need. The fed the hungry, visited the prisoner, clothed the naked, gave water to the thirsty, visited the sick, and welcomed the stranger. They did it out of a changed heart. It wasn’t their works that made them righteous but their righteousness that made them work and sanctified that works. One who truly loves Jesus will have that love flowing out of them and into others. Jesus told these righteous individuals that they were actually serving Him every time they served others, especially their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Those on His left will then be given the same litmus test. I’m sure there will be some in there who actually did some form of service to another, but it didn’t come from a heart changed by Jesus. It came from a self-serving heart. Nothing done without Christ as its center can stand. The lack of a relationship with Jesus is what condemns these individuals to hell. They chose willingly to refuse Jesus’ free gift of salvation. They were NOT ignorant of His promises. They made their choice and will pay for that decision for eternity.
Today’s passage makes me think about yesterday’s passage again. When the master called for a reckoning and the third servant was found wanting, he received the same ultimate reward as the goats. He was cast into hell too. I am even more convinced that he was not a believer, because, as we have seen today, his actions would have been to put his talent to use because of the change in his heart. It wasn’t the lack of profit that condemned him to hell but the rejection of the work assigned by the master that damned him. The master would have accepted ANY effort on his part, but instead the servant refused his commission completely. His actions were not that of a servant, as he refused to serve his master.
Father God, thank You for Jesus. Thank You for eternal life through belief in Him. Thank You that it is NOT through works that we are saved but through grace alone. Thank You also for the changed heart that comes with salvation. You don’t leave us like we were when we come to You. You give us a new heart. Out of that new heart flow works of love. Not because of who we are but because of Whose we are. When we truly recognize the love that You gave us we can’t help but share it with others. We share Your love in so many little ways and each one of those demonstrations of love are noticed by You. Thank You for giving me opportunities to share Your word and Your love.
The change in my heart doesn’t mean that I will ALWAYS act in a loving fashion. I truly wish it did, but my flesh/human side often gets in the way. I still need Your forgiveness when I fall into these patterns. And You freely offer that to me too. You know I’m going to blow it again and again, but You don’t give up on me. You keep changing my heart to reflect more of You every day. Thank You for continuing to work in and through me, Your flawed but improving vessel.