“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
This verse is often quoted and, by itself, has a pretty straightforward message—we are to . But the larger passage from which this verse is taken (Matt 25: 31-46) speaks about Jesus’ Second Coming and the criteria that will be used to open up the entry door to His Eternal Kingdom. So, there’s a lot more going on than just a nice sentiment. It warrants a closer look.
You Did [it] for Me
Jesus said in the preceding verses, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink… (Matt 25:35)” This can be a little confusing because we know that Jesus is God and is, thus, never in need of anything. Yet we know that Jesus, while fully God, was also fully human. So, He experienced the burdens associated with being flesh and bone, including hunger, thirst and loneliness. Therefore, He relates to those who are
The Least of These
The phrase “the least of these” is one we should consider with great care. We must understand that “the least” is a standard applied by our broken world that counts “the least” as the losers while it proclaims others as winners. This is not God’s standard. Reaching down with a helping hand is much different than reaching out with a helping hand. “Reaching down” implies, intentional or not, that we are of a higher position and those we help are of a lower status. Don’t fall into this trap! In comparison to God, we all fall so dreadfully short of His glory that each of us is to be counted among the ranks of the “least of these” along with every single other human being. Since we are all helpless “leasts,” saved only by accepting His free gift of grace through faith in Jesus, we should be about spreading the message of that infinite gift to all of the “co-leasts” around us.
The Bottom Line—This is Eternal Business
We learn from Jesus’s teaching that caring for the helpless, the hungry, the lonely and the suffering is an eternal privilege exercised by those with eternity in their hearts. We know that we are bringing a piece of eternity into this broken world by doing so. We can hear these precious words ringing in our hearts: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matt 25:34)