Lesson 103: The Mount of Olives Discourse / The Great Separation
Matt 25:31-46, Luke 22:1-2
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 103. In this lesson we're going to finish up Matt. ch. 25. Our reading will begin in v.31 and we'll read through v. 46, the end of the chapter. This is still part of that lecture Jesus gave to the four apostles on Mt. Olivet on Tuesday after noon, the last week of Jesus' life. At the end of Matt. 24:3, their last question was about the end of the world. Matt, ch. 25 started off, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins..." Then down in v.14 of this chapter, Jesus said: "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling in a far country, who called HIS OWN servants, and delivered unto them his goods." The chapter starts with two parables. The present section, v.31 through the end of the chapter is not a parable. This last section begins: "When the Son of man shall come..." So, let's read about WHEN Christ comes, i.e. the end of the world. Are you ready, beginning in v.31? "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw yethee ahungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto thorn, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was ahungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
Christ's second coming, the day of judgment, is going to be a time of SEPARATION. V.31 Jesus said, "the Son of man SHALL come." The holy angels will be with him and Jesus will set upon his throne of glory. All nations will be gathered before him, i.e. before his throne. By all nations here is meant, individuals from all nations; all the nations that will exist then and all the nations that have ever existed. YOU will be there and I will be there; George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Adolph Hitler, Adam, Noah, Abraham, David and all the prophets will be there. The greatest gathering that ever gathered in one place. And it will be the greatest separation that ever took place. Husbands and wives, children and parents! Very simply/ Jesus described that separation in v.32, as being similar to the way a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. That's a little parable tucked in here to briefly described the general nature of the occasion. I understand the shepherds in that day; often grazed their sheep and goats together during the day; but, at night the sheep and goats were separated.. So, even those four fishermen, Peter, James, John and Andrew that Jesus was speaking to on Mt. Olivet; understood how a shepherd separated his sheep from the goats in the evening before putting the sheep into the fold. The judgment is going to be like that. "AS a shepherd divideth his sheep from his goats." All individuals will be divided into two categories. The goats represent the evil category of men because goats must be driven and goats have a fighting quality about them; but, the sheep represent the righteous category of men because sheep FOLLOW their shepherd. AND, there are going to be two commands given, (first, to the righteous), "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you...", v.34, and (second, to the unrighteous), "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire...", v.41. Some, think it was a practice in those ancient courts to place the guilty or the condemned on the left side of the judge and the acquitted on the right side of the judge. You see, when the trumpet sounds and all the people of the earth stand before the Christ (as the figure is used in I Cor. 15:52); it will NOT BE a time of DECIDING whether one is a sheep, or a goat. It will be a time of explanation. It will be a time of announcement. Whether one is a sheep or a goat, so-to-speak, is determined in this life; not at the judgment, i.e. those that follow and obey Jesus and those who do NOT follow and do NOT obey Jesus. The word "judgment" usually means to get a verdict against AND the word "judgment" means an official announcement of that verdict. Jesus will be assisted on this occasion by the HOLY ANGELS, v.31. Do you remember the parable of the tares, Matt. 13:39? Who would separate the tares from the wheat? The angels! Here in Matt. 24:31, Jesus said, "the Son of man...shall send HIS ANGELS with a great sound of the trumpet, and THEY shall gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." The book of Revelation depicts the angels as doing this work. Notice that Jesus considers an action or deed done for (and to) his disciples as being done TO HIM. Likewise he considers an act of neglect or abuse AGAINST HIS disciples as done TO HIM. This point is illustrated at a later time in Saul of Tarsus. Saul was persecuting (putting in jail men and woman) for being Christians. Jesus said Saul was persecuting HIm, i.e. Jesus, in Acts. 9:4-5. The church is a kingdom made up of citizens or disciples of Jesus. Jesus is the King of that kingdom. So, when Jesus said in v.40; that "Inasmuch as ye have done this unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." You could substitute the word "church" today for "my brethren" in that sentence and the meaning would be the same. This tells us MUCH about how, and to whom, we must direct our efforts to be pleasing to Jesus. The list here, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and in prison are words that bring to mind the total conditions of the church and mankind in general. The ramifications here are so broad; that, we cannot begin to touch on all aspects of obedience in this lesson. For example, in the last few hours I saw a talk show on T.V. in which the host was making a "big whoop" over guests on the show who were openly practicing polygamy, or multiple wives. Someone asked about marriage, the legality involved and all that. One of them said, "that's a Christian law or a Christian concept", implying they didn't think very much of that law or that concept. Do you think their arguments will stand up on that day when the Son of man sounds the trumpet and sends his holy angels to recover every soul from the four winds of heaven, the grave, the hospitals, the fields and the highways of this old planet? You see, the ramifications are so broad, that these words of hunger, thirst, etc., simply suggest the idea. Notice in our text that those on the right hand, having the meek nature of a disciple, are unaware that they have done anything special; while those on the left are unaware, in their arrogance, that they have done anything wrong. You might notice also that the word "hell" does not occur in this section. We learn in v.41 that the place of eternal punishment was prepared for the devil and his angels. Some forms of universalism try to teach that heaven will be eternal or everlasting while punishment will be only temporary at the most, and the lost will then be annihilated, i.e. pass out of existence. As they say, like the little dog rover, dead all over. But, in the Greek, the language in which Matthew wrote this, the same Greek word is used for "everlasting" which describes punishment in v.41 and 46 as is used for "eternal" life in vX6 which describes the home of the righteous. Thus, everlasting punishment is just as eternal as heaven is eternal. Notice that the word "punishment" IS USED in v.45 and it IS USED synonymously with "everlasting fire" in v.41. So, you can explain it away if you want too; but, if you stick to the words of Jesus, there's quite a different concept. Take the time to re-analyze v.46. The destiny of the righteous (v.34) and the destiny of the wicked (v.41) are brought together, side by side in v.46; to show the great contrast between the two. Get a good grasp of how Jesus described the end of the. world here in Matt. ch. 25. If we learn this good and know the way it's really going to be; it puts us in a position to sort through all those big denominational, man-made doctrines exalted in the world today. Take for instance the unscriptural doctrine that teaches that the righteous will raise 1000 years before the unrighteous, for a thousand year reign with Christ, etc. Did you notice in v.32 that all nations, all individuals, will be GATHERED BEFORE the judge and THEN, "he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats"? Can you imagine a shepherd bringing his sheep to the fold a thousand years before the goats and then dividing the sheep from the goats? You see, when you take the time to see just what Jesus said; and you get it embedded in your thinking apparatus, you can sort through that stuff and blow away the chaff with full confidence. How could Jesus "separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats...", if they were not raised together? Explain that to me! There are so many things embedded in Jesus' teaching; that as I said, we can't begin to exhaust the list in the few minutes we have together. Let me give you one more example! Do you remember Jesus' inward man principle taught in the sermon on the mount and touched upon many times later in these four books? You see, this is a never ending process of learning to be like Jesus; forming our inner man, molding our thinking and structuring our character. We do it because Jesus wants us to do it, YES; but, beyond that we must do it because WE WANT to become like Jesus. It must emanate into every facet of our lives. Notice in the material we just covered that Jesus was pleased because they done it unto the least of his brethren, i.e. assisted the least of his brethren. He said (v.40), "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Then on the other side of the coin, v.45, Jesus said to the unrighteous, "Inasmuch as ye did it NOT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE, ye did it NOT TO ME." This implies that, if they had known they were doing it to Jesus; they would have acted differently, i.e. they would have done it to Jesus because they were expecting a reward from him. You see, our faith in Jesus must mold us to be much broader than just to try to get by with the minimum, to do as little as we can get by with. To be a Christian, one must have Christian attributes; not just have his name on a church roll. We CAN'T DO it just to be seen of men,' do you remember the first few verses of Matt. ch. 6? What I'm trying to say is that Christianity is far more simple in this respect than many can conceive. Christianity is a life-style. Repentance means a thorough change of the will; I'll follow Jesus when I being watched, I'll follow Jesus when I'm alone, I'll follow Jesus always. I'm his servant. I'm here to serve others, not to be served. I'll carry my load. I'll do my part. I'm an unprofitable servant, i.e. when I have done all that I can do, I've only done what is required of me. I deserve nothing. It's a privilege to serve Jesus. Forget the burden bit. Serve Jesus because, it's a privilege, not just for the reward. You'll get the reward, YES! He's already promised that. Concentrate on your duty, not on the reward, you see. When I mentioned unprofitable servant, I was thinking of Luke 17:10. Maybe, I should call your attention to the fact that the term "unprofitable servant" is used in two different ways. Back in the parable of the talents, the one talent man was also referred to as an "unprofitable servant", Matt. 25:30. But, in a different sense than in Luke 17:10.
Alright, let's do a little review and deliberation and then bring this lesson to a close. Jesus spent 3 years in Galilee, then about six months in Judea, in and around Jerusalem. He sent out the seventy in the fall of AD. 32. He went into Perea for a time; but, when he heard about Lazarus being sick, his friend at Bethany; Jesus came to Bethany and raised Lazarus from the dead. Not just to benefit Lazarus or his family; but, to show a sign that Jesus was indeed the messiah. The Sanhedrin legislated that Jesus should die for the nation, in their thinking. Jesus went to the town of Ephriam and later into Perea again. The last week of his life he came back to Jerusalem and stayed at Bethany at night. Sunday, he entered the city on a donkey, and was greeted by great crowds of people in what we usually term the triumphant entry. Monday he went to the temple and cleansed the temple; by chasing out the money changers, etc. On Tuesday he came back to the temple and spent the morning wrangling with the scribes and Pharisees; who tried to trap Jesus through their supposed superior educated reason. But, Jesus took on the best they could produce; and they marveled at Jesus' teaching. But, when people have gone as far as they can go on reason and they fail; then, what follows? Well it depends upon the heart of that person. Some honestly admitted. But, the majority went away more determined than ever to kill Jesus. As Jesus left the temple that day, some pointed to the great stones and the architecture of the temple. Jesus said, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another..." Peter, James, John and Andrew got Jesus alone as they traveled up Mt. Olivet and asked him privately about those things (Matt. 24:3). They quickly asked three for four questions. But, Matthew used two chapters in his book to give us Jesus' answer. We've just completed that section. At the end of Luke's account, Luke 21:37-38, that writer said, (if you'll turn there) "And in the daytime he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him." Then in the first two verses of Luke' 22nd chapter, he said, "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the passover. [i.e. the day of the festival in which they observed the passover feast.] And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people." This brings to a close the activity recorded about Jesus on Tuesday of the last week of Jesus' life. We'll pick up here in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.