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THE Kingdom Prepared

Matthew 25:34 (ESV) … “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.”

The valley of Jehoshaphat (called the Kidron valley in Jesus’ day) lies between Jerusalem and the mount of Olives. The garden of Gethsemane across from Jerusalem will bear sober witness to the sufferings of the King at the hands of men.

At the great assize, those described as sheep will be made to stand on the right hand of the King—toward Jerusalem. Those described as goats will be made to stand on His left hand—toward the ominous Tophet valley of Hinnom. There will be a thrill of happiness for those who are selected for life, and a thrill of horror for those weeded out for judgment.

(1) the Happiness of Those Redeemed (25:34–40)

The “sheep” will take up their stand with wonder and the King will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat …” (25:34–36) In joy and amazement they will reply, “When saw we thee an hungred …?” (25:37–39)

The “goats” will respond the same way: “When …?” (25:44). Neither class will have known the King personally. They will have had no idea that their behavior was an advertisement of an attitude toward God in which Omniscience could see potential faith or adamant unbelief.

The Holy Spirit calls those who will be chosen to stand on Christ’s right hand “righteous” (25:37), so they will have had at least the germ of faith in their hearts. Romans 4:3 tells us that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” These Gentiles with the germ of faith in their hearts will come into the blessing of Abraham: God promised him, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

In Matthew 25:40 the Lord stated the principle that will be the basis of the acceptance of these “righteous” Gentiles: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” He who reads all hearts and whose own heart is free from all narrowness, will accept what the “sheep” have done for a Jew as having been done for Him. As the poet wrote, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy / Like the wideness of the sea.”[44]

(2) the Horror of Those Rejected (25:41–46)

Those assembled on His left hand will have no hope. Many will have been branded with the mark of the beast. All will be able to remember cursing or kicking a Jew, or betraying a Jew to the tormentors, or refusing to give a Jew a cup of cold water. The Lord will not be able to find anything of value in their lives. He will not accuse them of murder, gross sexual sin, or robbing the poor. Their damning sins will be sins of omission, not what they have done but what they have not done. They will not have given Him meat or drink or clothing.

These “goats” will complain bitterly about their sentence. They will say, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” (25:44) Back will come the answer: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (25:45). There will be no further discussion. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal” (25:46).

There the Olivet discourse ended—on a solemn note indeed. The Lord’s destiny would now lead Him to the cross, the tomb, and the glory of His Father’s throne on high.[1]

[1] Phillips, J. (2014). Exploring the Gospel of Matthew: An Expository Commentary (Mt 25:34–46). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch.

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