Jesus finishes his dialogue on the end times with this last story. And it talks about the final judgment following the tribulation. At that time, God will judge the nations, separating the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Considering the context, it seems God will specifically judge the nations for how they treat his people during the tribulation. Some, who out of their love for God and faith in Jesus, work to help them in their time of need will be blessed and welcomed into the kingdom (24-9). But those who participate in their persecution, or who simply turn a blind eye to them will be condemned.
But there’s a broader application that we can get from this. For as much as people will be judged for how they treat God’s people during that time, we will be judged for how we treat them in the here and now.
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. 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, 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.’ (34-36)
And when these people asked when they did such a thing for him, the King will reply,
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (40)
But to those who did not help others in their time of need, he will say,
I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. (45)
When we see our brothers and sisters in Christ in need, how do we react? Do we reach out to them in the love of God? If we do, we do so to Christ.
But Jesus says that if we instead turn a blind eye to them, we are turning a blind eye to Christ and we will be held accountable for it.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (I John 3:16-18)
Jesus has given us so much. He laid down his own life to give us life. How then can we not do the same for others?
Let us turn a blind eye to Jesus no longer, but reach out and touch the lives of those he loved enough to die for.