Food for Thought: Sheep and Goats, August 7, 2019

Food for Thought: Sheep and Goats, August 7, 2019

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Sheep and Goats

But 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. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 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 a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ 

“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 

“Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’ 

“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 Reasons I picked this story:

  1. It is practical.
  2. It is quite dualistic. Sort of a counterpoint.
  3. It emphasizes the core social justice element of the gospel.

Question to get us started:         What do you think of this story OR, as an alternative, how does this story make you feel? (There are no wrong answers)

Questions that might point to meaning:

Who is “gathered” at this throne (judgment seat) as the recipient of this judgment?

                What are the criteria for the judgment of the nations? Do you think it good criteria?

                Who does Jesus call “brothers (and sisters)” here? (trick question hint—it isn’t ‘Christians’)

Discussion prompters:

                 Literal reading of this passage is not without difficulty.  (how do you deal with that, if you do?)

                “God is biased up to his eyebrows in favor of the poor.” Desmond Tutu; what do you think?

“The degree of civilization in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.” Dostoyevsky  

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