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Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:37–40).


The three parables Jesus included in the Olivet Discourse were given to reinforce the urgency of being prepared for the coming of Christ. Jesus repeatedly said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

Jesus gave a brief outline of the history involving the church by which we might be able to discern the season of His coming. From what we can tell, based on what He taught, we are in that season, if not at the end of the season.

There is much fascination about the coming of Christ for any number of reasons. Prophecy teaching sells books and makes some television preachers famous. If one follows such teaching, it can be seen that any time something happens in the Middle East, with Russia, or concerning the Jews, some prophet discovers a prophecy for it somewhere in the Bible. However, the season does not offer such detailed clues. Jesus said it is like a fig tree; when it puts out its leaves it means that summer is coming. The tendency with fig trees is that the leaves come more or less all at once. One could get the idea from modern prophets that the leaves pop out one at a time with each of these events; as soon as all the leaves have popped out, Jesus will come.

A recent article found on the Internet is an example of what takes place in the world of modern prophecy. Undoubtedly the writer was sincere in his belief and his research of the Bible was extensive. From what this man saw in Scripture, he prophesied that World War III will begin on or before January 2017 when Russia will detonate a special nuclear weapon over the United States causing all electrical power to fail and without communication and other essential services the United States will be defenseless and fall prey to Muslim invasion. This may or may not happen, but as a prophecy it follows the one-leaf-at-a-time principle whereas Jesus said His coming would be sudden and unexpected.

Jesus also used the metaphor of an expectant mother. Mark 13:8 (NASB), “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” The mother knows she is expecting a baby and she knows the time is close, but the baby comes when the baby comes. Modern prophets seem to know precisely when end-time events will take place, but the birth pangs actually began 2000 years ago. Yes, the time is much closer now, but remember Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” The end will come when the Father says so and He is under no obligation to tell any preacher or prophet what that will happen.

Rather than being concerned about when the end will come, Jesus is far more concerned that we will be prepared for the end when it does come. So far in the Discourse, Jesus has warned u to be prepared, to be active; and, now, He warns us to be compassionate.




Why does Jesus bring up the subject of compassion as a warning to be prepared for the judgment? At first glance there appears to be a disconnect.

Under the Parable to the Ten Virgins we found that we dare not backslide; we must be up to date in our experience with God. Under the Parable of the Talents we found that we must have the light of the gospel and be actively sharing it with those in the darkness of sin. As important as those are, Jesus places the highest importance on compassion. To those who exercise the compassion He speaks of God will say at the final judgment, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Those who do not exercise this compassion will hear a far different sentence: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Which set of words will you hear?




Compassion is a feeling of sorrow or pity for the sufferings or misfortunes of another, It can also be called mercy.

Jesus is not calling for a mere human emotion; He is calling for those professing Christianity to let God love the world through them. The Apostle John teaches that God’s love is in the very lives of the redeemed. He writes in 1 John 4:12, 13, 16


No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit. . . . And we have known and believed that love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.


God is love and if God lives in us, His love is present in our lives. The great principle of Wesleyan theology is that holiness is experienced by submitting to that indwelling love of God and serving God through His own love. If His love is in us, it must reach out from our lives to those that are lost in sin to draw them to the gospel of Christ. Verse 14 connects the love of God, God’s love in us, to our outreach with the gospel, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” It is we who have God’s love dwelling in us who testify that Christ is the Savior of the world.




In this lesson on the judgment, Jesus is not teaching a gospel of good-works; He is teaching a gospel of love-works. If we are actively engaged in love-works we are fit for the kingdom of heaven; if we do not engage in love-works, we are not fit for the kingdom of heaven and we cannot enter the presence of God in the next life—for, God is love.

Jesus identified six things as essential love-works: the hungry, the thirsty, strangers, the naked, sickness, and prison. One might say this sounds like the work of the Salvation Army. It is, but this Salvation Army must be far larger than the one started by General William Booth. It is the work of the Salvation Army built by Jesus Christ, the biblical church of God. We had better be that church of God if we want to go to heaven.

In the judgment scene described by Jesus, the sheep are standing at His right hand. You will notice that Jesus speaks to the sheep collectively, not as individuals. He commends all of them for having done these love-works because these works were done by God has He loved those lost in sin through their lives. This is a clear indication that individual sheep did not have to do all six of the love-works. Collectively the sheep did them all, but individual sheep could only do what they could do.

Perhaps you can only feed the hungry but you cannot visit those in prison. Another sheep has done that. Perhaps you can give a drink to the thirsty and visit the sick, but you cannot take in a stranger. Another sheep has done that. We do what we can as individuals, and collectively we the sheep do all the love-works. God recognizes the love-works in the lives of His sheep and accepts anyone that will allow Him to love the world through his life in any of these love-works.




Feeding the hungry. John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger.” Souls that have never come to Christ or who have fallen away from Christ are in a state of spiritual starvation. We of the Church are responsible to bring them to Christ to cure their spiritual starvation. He will fill them with spiritual life and save them out of their spiritual death.

Give drink to the thirsty. John 7:37–38, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” In the next verse, it says that Jesus was speaking of the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The only way a person can be right with God and live a holy life is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We of the Church are responsible to tell people this great truth and minister it to them.

Take in strangers. Ephesians 2:12–13, 19–20, “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. . . . Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” Without Christ, people are strangers from God. It is through the atonement in Christ people can be made right with God and brought into the household of God. We of the Church are responsible to seek out the strangers and bring them into the household of God. We must let them know Christ died for them and it is only through Him they can be made right with God.

Clothe the naked. Galatians 3:27 (NASB), “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Being without Christ is to be spiritually naked. It is essential to put on Christ to make it to heaven. Dr. Albert Barnes in his Notes on the New Testament explains: “That is, they have put on his sentiments, opinions, characteristic traits, etc., as a man clothes himself.” The lives of saved people look like the life of Jesus. We of the Church are responsible to teach converts how to live for Christ; to instruct them in how to make that which He has done on the inside appear on the outside.

Visit the sick. Luke 5:31–32, “Jesus answered and said to them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Sin is a sickness that has infected the entire human race and there is only one cure for sin and that is salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. We of the Church are responsible to call sinners to repentance so they can be saved from their sins.

Go to those in prison. 1 Peter 3:18–19, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” Sinners are held captive in a prison of sin. They are in bondage and cannot stop sinning without the deliverance made possible only by the Holy Spirit. We of the Church are responsible to go to the sinners in their prison of sin; we are not to wait for them to come to us—they can’t; they are in prison.




The three parables in the Olivet Discourse are directed, not to the world, but to the church. If we profess to be saved from sin and in the church, we are held responsible to be prepared; there can be no excuse at the judgment for not being prepared. If we profess to be saved from sin and in the Church, we are held responsible to be active in doing the work to which Jesus has called us. There is no reward at the judgment for having just held our own. And now we learn that we are held responsible to be compassionate, to do God’s love-works so God can minister His love to sinners through our lives.

Notice that there are only two classes at the judgment in this story. The first class is sheep. These are Christians who have performed God’s love-works in their lives. The second class is goats. These are professed Christians who have neglected to do any of God’s love-works in their lives.

Some have the idea that if they call themselves Christians, do the best they can (or want), give some money to the church or to a charity, they have a ticket through the judgment straight into heaven. Jesus teaches that this is not so. There will be many professing Christianity turned away at the judgment because their lives did not conform to the standard of Jesus Christ. One might complain that such a standard is just too high and not possible to live out in this life. What about Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” To be a Christian is to live a crucified life so that instead of following the dictates of self, one follows that faith of the Son of God. Christ will never lead you into sin or selfishness, but only into the will of God.

Christ’s life in us is the standard. Is He living His life in your life? If Christ truly lives in you, He will manifest His life through your life. He will do God’s love-works through you.




In closing the study of the Olivet Discourse remember that Jesus is not concerned so much with the details of the end time but that we be prepared for the end whenever it comes. One day Christ will return and call an end to time; however, it may be that our end will come before that day comes.


And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).


What will you hear when you reach that judgment? “Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34). Or, “Depart from Me, you coursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41). The choice is yours.

Be ready!