#0053 These sheep seem a lot like liberals
Links relevant with today’s post…
“In the first quarter of 2015, data from the DOL shows all 50 states received a total of $29 million combined. That may not sound like much, but Michigan accounted for $10.9 million of that amount, more than one-third of the total. The next closest state was California, with nearly four times the population as Michigan but only just above $3 million of above-base earnings.”
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation 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 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit 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 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “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.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire 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, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matt: 25: 31-46 (NIV)
In this parable Jesus is talking about the last judgment and He is basically saying that at that time people will be put into only two groups. He distinguishes them using the terms sheep and goats. By His use of the imagery of animals to depict these two groups we know this is a parable. I want to talk about a few aspects of this parable that tie in with the general concept of the Kingdom.
- The first point I want to make is how simple and uncomplicated this imagery is. Let’s consider the group of sheep to begin. The thing that fundamentally distinguishes them from the other group, the goats—is the evidences in their behavior and actions. If we were to describe the sheep’s behavior with one word, it might be, proactive. In the parable Jesus refers to his role as a shepherd. A shepherd tends sheep—not goats. Someone who tends goats is called a goatherder or goatherd. So in this scene, the goats are interlopers or intruders of the sheep flock. Did the goats have a goatherd at one time; if so what happened to him? The behavior that all the goats have in common is their failure to act against the perpetration of evil. Another term Jesus used for this perpetration of evil was offences. If you read post #0050 you might remember I quoted Matt: 18: 7 which says,
“7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Matt 18:7 (KJV)
In a real sense these people depicted as goats are perpetrators of the offences Jesus is saying are a part of the world. Their inability or unwillingness to stand in opposition to these offenses puts them into this group of goats.
- The actions or inactions aren’t what get them into either group. These are but the outward signs of the true measure of these people. So when Jesus is telling the people destined to go with the sheep that whenever they did—any of the pro-actions (which were in effect making a stand against the offenses of the world He refers to in Matt. 18:7) they did—the same was done to Him. They did these things because it came out of their deeper, bigger and more divine sensibilities that were at work within them. They did these things, not for any kind of reward, but because it seemed right and good to them to do at the time. This inherent drive to do good works because it feels good to do them isn’t specifically a Christian trait; it’s a liberal or progressive trait. The conservative response, on the other hand, is more apt to maintain the status quo in the world; which is to do nothing and allow the offenses of the world to continue.
- This is one of the few scriptures that Jesus talks about the final Judgment. The uncomplicated depiction is stark and unassuming. What comes to mind every time I read this scripture is—where is the denominational discussion here; what about baptism and the sacraments; priesthood; original sin; who’s accepted Jesus as their personal savior; who’s gay; who’s non-Christian; who’s Muslim? None of these issues are even brought up in this scene that depicts the final judgment! It’s all about taking care of each other and doing so because it feels good and right to do so. Those who personify these qualities through their actions are right for the Kingdom, AKA salvation.
- This parable comes immediately after the last parable about the bags of gold. Jesus launched into this story almost in the same breathe with which He told that one. This is why I am so, so certain that in the last parable He wasn’t talking about literal bags of gold (or money); but rather they were symbolic for a different precious commodity—the Kingdom.
In today’s link (Is the UIA raking in millions of federal dollars it doesn’t deserve? ) we are taken to my home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This story originates from a local news team whose beat is to solve problems for people who call the helpline. In their wrestling with a problem for a fellow over his unemployment benefits several months ago they uncovered another shady deal that our governor Rick Snyder seemed to be tangle up in. In an effort to make himself look fiscally responsible—which makes him look good on paper; Rick Snyder was creating a situation that was leaving a trail of heartache in its wake as he was once more trying to balance his precious state budget on the backs of the poor. Is Rick Snyder acting like a sheep or a goat? Another line in Jesus’s litany could’ve have included something like: “I was unemployed and you cut off my unemployment insurance benefits.”
TBC: Wednesday, January 06, 2016