“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.” Matthew 25:31-33
The Mark of a Sheep is Love
What a glorious day it will be when our Lord returns. He will make all things new and the world will be a much better place. As we see from the above passage, Jesus’ first order of business will be to divide the sheep from the goats. The sheep are His. They move to the right. The goats exit stage left.
As for me, I plan to be on the right side of Jesus on the day of reckoning. I hope that’s your desire too. So, let’s ask ourselves, what distinguishes a sheep from a goat? The answer is quite simple – sheep bear His mark. In a word, that mark is “love”. That’s what the Shepherd was known for, and that’s how we are to be known.
In Matthew 25, Jesus describes what love does. It takes special notice of those in need. You know the types: the homeless, the sick, the incarcerated, the hungry and thirsty. Jesus referred to such people as “the least of these”. Goats are more drawn to “the greatest of these”. They’re the ones we’re comfortable with and want as friends. Love, however leads to the afflicted. It’s not looking for friends, but looks out for strangers. That’s what the Shepherd did and what sheep do.
Sheep are those that love the most unlikely people, at the most unlikely opportunities, under the most unlikely circumstances. Simply put, love suffers inconvenience and allows for interruptions. Caring for the ‘least of these’ demands it. There are no shortcuts. Sacrifice is the rule, not the exception. If you thought love was easy, you were misinformed. Love requires effort along with a great deal of practice and patience.
Jesus declared, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.” This is the starting point of love. It begins with selflessness and full-blown surrender. It costs little to love the special people in our lives. Even goats got that down. Loving the ‘least of these’ will cost you. The good news is that there is no greater investment! According to Jesus, when we love on strangers we love on Him. Think about that the next time a homeless fellow taps on your car window!
I like to think of sheep as cross-eyed. The cross of Jesus is the greatest demonstration of love known to mankind. This cross must come to view as we look upon on the least of these. It will remind us of how much Jesus loves them.
Sadly, goats can’t see straight. Their view of the cross is way out of focus. Nor will they see the Kingdom of God. Only the sheep will. And only the sheep will hear The Shepherd say, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660