Opening Questions and Prayer:
When is it easy to help others?
When is it difficult to help others?
Why do we sometimes avoid those who need help?
Pray that the Lord would open our eyes and hearts to the world around us, especially those that need help.
Read Matthew 25:31-33
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
Who is the audience that Jesus is talking to?
See Matthew 24:3- Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”
What does Jesus want the disciples and us to know about the end times?
How did this parable relate to what Jesus had spoken of earlier in His talk with the disciples?
See Matthew 24:37-40 37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. 40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
Why won’t some people be prepared for when Jesus returns?
Why will there be a separation between people?
Read Matthew 25:34-36
34 “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 creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
What are the characteristics of those on the king’s right side?
How did those on the right treat the king?
When you hear that list of actions what comes to mind?
Are you one that goes out of your way to help others or avoid others who need help?
Read Matthew 25:37-40
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Why were these people identified as “righteous”?
See Romans 3:20-24 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Why didn’t the people on the King’s right side realize they had helped the King?
How does serving the “least of these” give glory to God?
What are some ways you can help others this week?
How can you do it motivated by love, not by obligation?
Read Matthew 25:41
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.
Why is there an eternal fire?
Who was it meant for?
What can you do to make sure people end up in the right place, with God, instead of in a place that was not designed for them?
Read Matthew 25:42-46
42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Why did the people on the left miss out on the King’s blessing?
What are some reasons we don’t help others out in their time of need?
If you saw people the way Jesus sees people, and that by helping the less fortunate out, you’re doing it for Jesus, how might that change your perspective?
What are some ways you can pray this week for the Lord to change your heart towards the people around you?
What is the end result of the sheep and the goats?
Based on this parable, why might some people draw the conclusion that our actions save us?
Read Ephesians 3:10-14
10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”
13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
What is Paul telling the Ephesians about in this passage?
Why is it important to know it is not our actions that save us?
How does the parable of the sheep and the goats line up with this passage?
What is the Lord teaching you today?
Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Closing thoughts and prayer
When we read the parable of the sheep and the goats, our first instinct may be to go and help people, thinking that is what God is looking for in His followers. However, it’s not our actions that save us, but us surrendering our life and will to Jesus. Once that happens, we will serve and care for the down and out because that’s what Jesus did.
Spend time praying that the Lord would shape your heart and life to look more like Him. Pray that people would catch you looking like Jesus. Then think of someone that needs help in your life. Ask the Lord to show you ways that you can reach out to them with help and the love of Jesus.