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.” Matthew 25:40
His name is Spencer. But everybody calls him “Spence.” He was a state track champion in high school; then he went on to attend a prestigious university on a full academic scholarship. He lives now in one of America’s largest cities and is highly respected in the field of chemical engineering. But if you were to ask Spence his greatest achievements to date, he wouldn’t mention any of those things. He would excitedly tell you about the trips he makes to Nicaragua every few months to check in on the kids and teachers in the tutoring program he helped establish in one of the poorest areas of the country. And he’d tell you how enriched his life has been by serving them.
“The least of these.” It’s a phrase people use in a variety of ways, yet Jesus used it to describe those who, according to the world’s standards, have little or nothing to offer us in return for our service. They are the men and women and children the world often overlooks—if not forgets completely. Yet it’s exactly those people Jesus elevates to such a beautiful status by saying, “Whatever you did [for them], you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). You don’t have to have a degree from a prestigious university to understand Christ’s meaning: serving “the least” is the same as serving Him. All it really takes is a willing heart.
Who comes to mind when you hear the phrase “the least of these”? What’s something you could do for them?
King Jesus, I’m afraid I make serving You harder than it is. Your words are clear—You call me to the least and the littlest, perhaps in Nicaragua or maybe in my neighborhood. Give me courage to serve.
Matthew 25:31–40 opens with Jesus’ words about the time of judgment when the sheep (believers in Jesus) will be separated from the goats (unbelievers): “He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (v. 33). What does this parable represent? The Expositor’s Bible Commentary offers this explanation: “In the countryside, sheep and goats mingled during the day. At night they were often separated. Sheep tolerate the cool air, but goats have to be herded together for warmth. In sparse grazing areas the animals might be separated during the day as well. But now these well-known, simple, pastoral details are freighted with symbolism. The right hand is the place of power and honor.”