The Journal of Biblical Accuracy
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"For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink"

Matthew 25 does not end with the parable of the talents, but it is immediately followed by the below unparabolical passage, which is directly connected to the three parables we previously read:

Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. 'Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.""

Some are quick to dismiss the above passage as referring to others and not to us, as we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. I would happily accept – and it is true that I did it for years – this reasoning, if I did not see the following problems with it:

To whom was the Lord speaking when He said the above words as well as the three parables of Matthew 24 and 25 we read? This is very obvious from the context. The teaching of the Lord started as an answer to the following question of the disciples:

Matthew 24:3
"As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

Then after He tells them about the false christs, the false prophets, the abomination of desolation etc., He says:

Matthew 24:36-39, 42-43
"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. …. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming". Who are those that are to stay awake, to be alerted? His disciples. And then the Lord proceeds by giving several examples which all refer to one and the same case: how somebody waiting for the Lord to come, should behave during the time of His absence. Are we not exactly these people? If we are not these people, then who is? To say it differently, if we exclude ourselves from these words of Christ which He said to His disciples, then there is nobody else to whom these words could refer to. This is the basic reason which makes me believe that these words of the Lord do not refer to some others but to me personally. Also see the timing these words were said. This is stated explicitly in Matthew 26:1-2:

Matthew 26:1-2
"When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

These were teachings delivered to his disciples right at the close of the Lord’s ministry, two days before the crucifixion. He did not give them only for information but for application! Furthermore, what Jesus said above is not at all unique. See here what John says in his epistle:

1 John 3:16-18
"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

James uses the same example of 1 John 3:16-18 and makes it even louder:

James 2:14-17
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Whether we are truly Christ’s followers is shown very simply by whether or not we follow His Word, doing - yes with mistake and failures (I repeat: we are not yet perfect but we are running towards it (Philippians 3:12)) - what this Word says. As the Lord said, not everybody that calls Him Lord Lord will enter into the Kingdom but those who do the will of His Father. It is indeed faith that saves but true faith, and such faith is manifested in doing the will of God, the works that God has prepared for us. And just to avoid any misunderstanding: for many of these works we do not need any special revelation. They are written plainly in His Word. Here are some:

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. 'Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"

And James 1:27
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Next section: The parable of the debtor of the ten thousand talents

 

Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou