31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Back in Matthew 13, we learned the parable of the Wheat and Tares, in which Jesus explained that the bad and good will grow together and be intermingled until the time of harvest. Here in Matthew 25, Jesus is talking about that harvest. He reveals that when He returns in His glory (He wasn’t in His glory while here the first time as a human) He will make things right and reveal those who are truly His and those who are not.
The comparison between sheep and goats is very revealing. Sheep are known to be innocent, humble, meek, and obedient. Goats are known to be stubborn, disobedient, and selfish. Can you see the comparison between those who are His and those who are not? In the next passages we will look at how this compares to our lives today, but in the meantime let’s think about our behavior right now. In our relationship with God, how would we classify ourselves (that is, goat or sheep) in relation to what Jesus teaches His disciples in John 15?
10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.
Jesus instructs us to obey what He tells us so that we may grow closer to Him. He tells us to be humble and sacrificial (as He was the sacrificial Lamb). Those of us who do will be separated with the sheep but those who do not will be grouped with the goats. Notice that in the John passage we learn that by obeying Him we will be filled with eternal joy. I think it is easy for us to read the word “obey” or “obedience” and immediately our mind floods with negative connotations and feelings. Maybe we even have some unresolved issues from our past about obedience. But we must remember that God’s Kingdom is not like the world. Obeying Him is an honor and a blessing, not a burden. In Matthew 11 Jesus encourages us:
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
In obeying Him, we find rest for our souls and we get to spend eternity in His presence. Makes you want to be a compliant sheep more than a stubborn goat, doesn’t it?