Matthew 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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 foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was 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, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
As we read this portion of scripture we look at the facts given and we look at the people involved. Facts: (1) Jesus is coming in all His glory with all His angels to judge all the peoples of the world (Matthew 25:31-33); (2) The people will be judged according to what they did or didn't do (Matthew 25:35-40, 42-45); (3) The judgment will result in eternal punishment or eternal life. The people involved: (1) The righteous and the cursed or unrighteous; (2) The people the righteous and unrighteous live among who are brothers of Jesus or in other words, family of Jesus (Matthew 25:40); (3) The King, Jesus (Matthew 25:31, 34, 40).
Jesus will judge the righteous (sheep) and the unrighteous (goats) according to what they did. The righteous are those made righteous by the Lord when they repented of their sins and believed the gospel (Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9). Those who repent and believe the gospel are justified or made righteous by God immediately upon belief in the gospel (Romans 5:1, 17). The belief is not a mere intellectual acknowledgement that Jesus exists, died, rose again from the dead and is Lord, but is a saving belief that includes a desire to obey and do as the King commands. The King desires those in need be helped by those who have resources (James 2:14-17; 1 John 3:16-18). The Apostle Paul teaches this to us in 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; Romans 15:25-28 and Galatians 6:9-10. The people in our passage today are not the criminals in jail, but the people who believe in Jesus, people like the Apostles Paul and Peter who were imprisoned for their faith. The people who are in need are believers who are in need because of natural disasters (i.e. famine) or persecution (Revelation 13:7, 16-18) or personal economic conditions (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Corinthians 8:14).
Jesus the King, will judge all people. He will judge people by their works when He looks in the books of their lives and the book of life (Revelation 20:12). A person's name must be written in the book of life to gain eternal life. If a person's name is not in the book of life then they will experience the 2nd death when judged by Jesus. The second death is being cast into the Lake of Fire, the place of eternal torment or punishment (Revelation 20:14-15; Matthew 25:46a). A person's name is written in the book of life when they repent and believe the gospel.
Lessons to be known: People who repent of their sins and believe the gospel are made righteous and desire to obey the Lord Jesus Christ by helping those in need. People who don't repent and believe the gospel are unrighteous and can't obey the Lord Jesus Christ and don't help the believers in need. The righteous will be judged and gain eternal life. The unrighteous will be judged and experience eternal punishment or torment.
Lesson to be practiced: We are to use the resources we have to help believers in need. We are to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ so people can call on the Lord and be saved (be made righteous) and escape eternal torment (Read Romans 10:13-17).