Lesson 5: Holy Week
Devotion: Read Matthew 25:31-46. How we live now matters. When Jesus teaches about the coming day of judgment, he does not mention salvation by faith. He describes God separating people into two groups based upon how they treated other people during their lives. However, as his other teachings in Matthew make clear, Jesus still bases his judgment on faith. The larger message of the parable is that our actions in life demonstrate our attitude toward God. We may not be aware our actions are revealing our faith in or rejection of God, but they are. Christ commands us to love one another; our loving actions toward others are a sign of obedience to Christ. He teaches us to serve one another. This passage invites us to do more than obediently serve a distant God. Amazingly, through our interactions with “the least of these” we encounter Jesus. He is personally connected with those in need. God can seem so far away; Jesus says God is as close as our neighbor.
Personal Worship Option: Make a list of the groups of people in our community that often need help and support. Pray over the list, asking God to use you to live out the teachings of Jesus. Find a way in the next week to embody Matthew 25:31-46.
Dig A Little Deeper:
25:31 Jesus describes a scene from the final judgment when he has returned as Judge of all. Compare this presentation of that moment with Romans 8:31-39. How do these two passages work together?
25:32 “All the nations” is a way of describing all humankind. Jesus is drawing from a common agricultural experience. Sheep and goats feed together but must be separated to travel.
25:34 Jesus describes his title in judgment as “Sovereign” or “King.” Rabbinic teaching held that God created the kingdom of the Messiah prior to creating the cosmos. They taught the Messiah’s realm envelopes this creation and will exist after this one ends. Does this theological framework appeal to you?
25:35 Judgment is based on how people dealt with the physical needs of the “least.”
25:40 “Least of these who are members of my family” refers to those who are unable to immediately repay the act of kindness.
25:45 What are the implications of this passage on how you spent your last week?
25:46 There is no substitute for faith expressing itself in love (Gal 5:6).