You did it to Me - For Me
Matthew 25:31-26:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
26 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5 But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? 9 For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
In some ways the beginning and the end of today’s text seems to give contradicting messages. In the first portion, concerning the judgment of the nations, the ethnos, people of all tribes, tongues and races, the standard of measure is how they responded to the less fortunate. Jesus says that the way we treat others is the same as how we treat Him. In the latter portion of the text a woman pours costly perfume on Jesus, the disciples respond that this money could have been better used to meet the needs of the poor. Jesus says: “you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” In this case Jesus has condoned a lavish expression toward Him above the needs of the poor. In truth though, this is a fulfillment of what Jesus says the first and second most important commandments are. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
It is important that we love and serve others. As the first portion of the text says, how we treat others, what we do for the less fortunate is a reflection of how we treat Jesus Himself. Still as Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. So how then are we judged according to our works? Here is the thing. We are indeed saved by grace, through believing in Jesus and the redemption of the cross. In response to His love, that while we were yet sinners, He died for us, we love Him. We first and foremost love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. It is out of our love for Him, out of our lavish expression of worship for Him, that we begin to truly see others as He sees them. As important as it is to love and serve others, if we try to fulfill the second commandment, loving and serving others, without first loving God, our service to and love for them is merely human works. It has no eternal value either for us or for them.
Ephesians 2:10, the completion of our being saved by grace says: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. When our “good works” flow from our love and worship of Christ, our love and service of others is then in Christ’s love. Jesus says: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) When we love and serve others with the love of Christ we fulfill the second commandment, loving others as we ourselves are loved. The expression of Christ’s love to others has eternal value; for them, pointing them toward the greatest demonstration of love known to man, the cross of Christ and for us, indicating that we truly know Christ and love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.
In today’s text Jesus says: “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” We have been commanded and commissioned by Jesus, to preach the gospel to the world. But our response and obedience to Him to fulfill that commission is to be more than an obligatory response. We are not to preach the gospel, nor are we supposed to love and serve others simply because Jesus said we should. The sharing of the gospel and our love for and service to others should flow from our love for God. Only as we lavishly expend all that we have on Him, emptying ourselves in love and worship, can we be filled by His love, compassion, mercy and grace. Only in Christ can we truly love others in a way that has eternal benefits.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that You held nothing back from or for me. You love me not for who I was, but for who You created me to be. You poured Yourself out that I could be redeemed and restored. May I live to lavishly expend all that I am and all that I have, loving You and through that love, may I do the works You have commanded and called me to, the works You have prepared beforehand that I would walk I them, the good works which others may see and glorify You. Amen.