Sheep on the Right, Goats on the Left: The Final Separation of the Saved and the Lost
December 2, 2001
Listen to this Sermon
My text describes an awesome event, the Judgment of the Nations, which takes place when Jesus returns to the earth to set up his kingdom. There are three reasons why this judgment must take place:
1) Evil must be exposed and finally punished.
2) Righteousness must be revealed and finally rewarded.
3) Jesus must be vindicated in the place where he was rejected.
The first two principles hardly need any explanation. Today evil is often hidden, and when it is not hidden, it is extolled, praised, and evildoers are rewarded and promoted. Not long ago I happened to watch a few minutes of a “celebrity roast” honoring Hugh Hefner, founder and publisher of Playboy magazine. Few men have been responsible for as much moral pollution as Hugh Hefner. Almost single-handedly, he made pornography respectable in America. While it is true that others have gone much further than he went, he opened the door and made sleaze seem acceptable. He was hailed that night as a great pioneer and as a friend of Freedom of Speech. Thank God that Comedy Central will not have the last word on Hugh Hefner. There must be a day of judgment so that people like him get what they deserve.
And too often today those who serve the Lord are forgotten, marginalized or ridiculed. But in the last day those who have served others with hearts of compassion will be remembered by the Lord and rewarded for their efforts. Nothing will be overlooked, not even the offering of a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.
The Lamb and the Lion
But it is the third principle that deserves our closest attention. Jesus must be vindicated. What a mighty thought that is. He who was despised and rejected of men must one day reign on the earth. God will not allow the bloody cross to be the world’s final memory of his Son. One day—may it be soon, Lord!—to borrow a verse from the hymnwriter Isaac Watts, “Jesus shall reign where e’re the sun doth its successive journeys run; his kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.”
To the world that crucified him, he will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No wonder the tribes of the earth will look on him and mourn. In that day, they will realize how wrong they were.
He came once as a Lamb; he returns as a Lion.
He came once as a Savior; he comes again as Judge of all the Earth.
The rejected Savior, once crucified and left for dead, will return to judge the nations. That day is sooner than we think and coming closer all the time.
I. The Judge Seated 31
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31 ESV).
As we think about these words, it helps to remember the context. Jesus spoke this promise to his disciples on Wednesday of Holy Week. Less than 48 hours later, he was hanging on a Roman cross. By that evening, his dead body was embalmed and placed in the Garden Tomb. Nothing that Friday night seemed more preposterous than the notion of Christ coming again “in glory” to sit on a “glorious throne.” What glory could there be in worshiping a dead man?
But Jesus knew all about Good Friday and Long Saturday and Easter Sunday. He knew with perfect foreknowledge all that the Father had ordained to befall him. All of it—the traitor’s kiss, the trumped-up charges, the six trials, the mocking, the humiliation, the scourging, the spitting, the crown of thorns, the pain, the degradation, the awful weight of the sin of the world—was seen by Jesus with perfect clarity. He knew that not many days later, he would depart this world and would be gone for a long, long time. First, the disciples would struggle with his suffering and death. Then they would rejoice over his resurrection. Then they would learn to live without his visible presence. Long years would turn into decades, the apostles themselves would die, the Christian movement would roll on, the generations would turn to centuries, empires would rise and fall, kings would come and go, armies would go to war, and the long march of history would continue. Slowly the followers of Jesus would spread across the globe, bringing the light of the gospel into the darkness of sin. Jesus even knew about the 21st century. He saw our day clearly because he saw every day clearly.
Not Much Glory the First Time
Consider this. When he came the first time, there was little glory to be seen. Oh, there were angels singing, but only the shepherds heard them. And only the shepherds and the Magi marked his birth. He arrived on planet earth unwanted, unnoticed, unexpected, mostly unheralded, born to a virgin girl in a tiny village in a backwater province of the Roman Empire. No one in Rome or Athens knew or cared that the Savior of the world had been born. Joy to the world? Outside of Bethlehem, no joy at all. Who knew? Over his first coming, write the world HUMILITY in large letters. He came as a gentle lamb, meek and mild, offered for the sin of the world. He came unto his own and his own received him not (John 1:11). Even his own people, the Jews, barely recognized him. And many of them wanted to kill him.
No, it wasn’t an auspicious beginning for the Savior from heaven. But that is how the Father chose to send his Son. Quietly, without fanfare, born in a stable, on a bleak midwinter’s night.
These words of Jesus, uttered as they were in the heavy shadow of the cross, carry great weight. They tell us that over his Second Coming we should write the word GLORY in large letters. Humility then, Glory to come. When he finally returns to the earth, every eye will see him. No one will miss that day and no one will doubt that it is Jesus who has returned. You won’t have to turn to Fox News to get a “Fair and Balanced” interpretation of the Second Coming. The King himself will appear on all channels simultaneously!
Jesus, not Mohammed!
And lest we miss the point, it is Jesus himself who will be seated on the throne, and it is Jesus and Jesus alone on the throne. In these pluralistic days when we are being counseled to declare that Christians, Jews and Muslims worship the same God, let us ponder the politically incorrect teaching of our text.
It is Jesus who sits on the throne.
And not a committee of famous religious leaders.
No, it is Jesus and Jesus alone. To him every knee will one day bow—willingly or unwillingly. And every tongue will confess—willingly or unwillingly—that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
There is only one God who has revealed himself as the eternally true God. He exists from all eternity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the blessed Trinity. He alone is the true God and there is no other God besides him. To worship any other God is blasphemy and idolatry.
That God—our God!—has come to earth in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, born of a virgin so long ago at Bethlehem, born to be the Savior of the world. And there is no other Savior for mankind. His name is the only name by which we may be saved. He alone is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.
To speak of God apart from Jesus Christ is to deny the entire New Testament. We must not do this, not in the name of peace or toleration or better understanding or even to prevent terrorism. No building or group of buildings or human government or national pride is worth giving up the glorious truth that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. Let the nations rage if they will. Let the people devise their plans against the Lord and his Anointed One. The Lord in heaven will have the last word.
Jesus Christ is Lord and he is God. We will not be moved from this basic truth. And we will not deny our faith in these troubled times. Today he stands at the door and knocks, waiting patiently to enter as Savior to any heart that will take him in. But another day is coming, a day of thunder and fire and angels and trumpets. A day of glory. A day of solemn judgment.
The throne will be set up.
The King will take his place.
The Judgment of the Nations will begin.
II. The Subjects Gathered 32-33
“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. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:32-33 ESV).
We have a problem with this passage because most of us (myself included) don’t have much firsthand experience with farm animals. In my 12 years at Calvary, I’ve never seen a goat in Oak Park. Come to think of it, the only sheep I’ve seen have been at a petting zoo we set up a few years ago for Day in Our Village. The people who do know about sheep and goats generally say that sheep are weak and vulnerable creatures that are easily led and quick to get lost, which is why they desperately need a shepherd. And they tend to say that goats are smarter, more stubborn, more independent, and often are natural leaders. One man told me that when he was growing up in Melrose Park, someone had a flock of goats, and he would cross the road whenever he saw the goats coming because they could be mean and wouldn’t hesitate to butt him with their horns.
In the first century sheep and goats would normally be kept together in the same herd so that it was often difficult to tell them apart. But when the time came, the shepherd would quickly herd the goats in one direction, the sheep in another. That’s the background for these verses.
Picture the scene in your mind’s eye. In the center is a royal throne with Jesus himself seated in royal attire. He holds the scepter of righteousness in his right hand. Flanking him on either side as far as the eye can see are tens of thousands of bright shining creatures. They are the angels of God. Gathered in front of the throne are millions and millions and millions of people, nervously milling about, waiting, talking, whispering, wondering, arguing about what will happen next. Who are these people? They are the “nations” of the earth. The word refers to ethnic groups, not to political entities. Don’t think of it as Costa Rica, Bolivia, Thailand, and Kenya. Think of it as a vast assembly of people from every corner of the globe.
When the judgment begins, there is no way to distinguish people in the crowd. Then the king speaks up. “Sheep to the right, goats to the left.” Note that the text says it is the king who separates the people. The purpose of this judgment is not to determine who is a sheep and who is a goat. That has already been determined long beforehand. This judgment is a public separation of the two groups of people. In the beginning they are all together. When the judgment is over, the two groups are forever separated.
This is true to life as we know it today. In the present age the saved and the lost mingle together in the world. We live together, work together, and we play together. We live on the same streets, go to the same restaurants, watch the same television programs, sing the same songs, work in the same offices, and attend the same schools. Most of the time it’s difficult to tell for sure who is in which group. You can’t go to Soldier Field, look up in the stands, and simply by observing, know for certain who is saved and who is lost. We all look pretty much the same, especially from a distance.
But the Lord knows his own because he saves them one by one. He knows them and loves them and calls them by name. He puts his mark on them so that they will never be lost in the crowd. And in the last day, he will call his own from the mass of people in the world and his sheep will be separated from the devil’s goats forever.
III. The Evidence Introduced 34-45
Now we come to the unexpected part of the story. When the king introduces the evidence upon which he makes his judgment, he doesn’t say a thing about faith, salvation, grace, the new birth, accepting Christ, trusting Jesus, being born again, having eternal life, or any of the usual spiritual disciplines, such as Bible reading, prayer, praise, worship, meditation, evangelism, Bible memory, church attendance, or participation in baptism or the Lord’s Supper. There is nothing about Sunday School, tithing, small group ministry, which Christian college you attended, what seminary is your favorite, or even more prosaic subjects, such as being a Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Church of Christ. It’s as if those things don’t matter at all. That is to say, all of the things we normally associate with going to heaven are not even mentioned. None of them.
That’s shocking. It’s also unsettling. And unnerving. If we take Jesus’ words at face value, they tend to upset the theological apple cart, so to speak. But if the things we’ve counted on aren’t even mentioned, what does matter when it comes to entering the kingdom versus going to hell forever? The answer may surprise you:
“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. 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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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’” (Matthew 25:34-40 ESV).
There are several problems here. First, as already noted, he doesn’t say a word about faith or salvation or grace or any of the things we know are truly essential for entering the kingdom of God. They just aren’t there. Either they don’t matter or else we have to find them somewhere other than these verses. Second, it’s possible that Jesus is teaching us that salvation is not by grace or faith, but strictly by our human works. Third, if that’s the case, is Jesus teaching us that heaven is open to anyone who does these things, regardless of their religious commitment? If that’s the case, then the liberals are right when they suggest that you don’t even need to believe in Jesus to go to heaven. Some go so far as to postulate that by doing good, you prove you believe in Jesus even though you’ve never even heard of him (the “honorable pagan” theory). Or they might say that such a person would have believed in Jesus if he had heard of him so that person gets into heaven anyway. Fourth, who are the “least of these my brothers?” Fifth, why does he so closely identify himself with the “least of these?”
Let’s start with the last two questions first. The phrase “my brothers” has been variously interpreted. Some people understand it as a reference to all the poor and needy and hurting people of the world. Anytime you help anyone in any sort of need, they say, you are doing it to Jesus himself. No doubt there is an element of truth in that statement since we know that God has a special concern for the poor, the hurting, the lonely, and all the suffering people of the world. He sees them, he knows them, and he deeply cares about them. But it is doubtful that this is the primary meaning of Jesus’ words. In Matthew 12:46-50, when he heard that his mother and his brothers were waiting to speak to him, he offered this startling reply, “‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:48-50 ESV). The reply is startling because it shows that Jesus’ true family consists of those who follow him in faith. Applied to Matthew 25:31-46, it means that the “least of these” refers to Christian brothers and sisters who are sick, needy, hungry, hurting, and in jail. There were many Christians in the first century who fit that description; there are multiplied millions of Christians who fit that description today.
If that is correct, Jesus is saying, “When you do good to my people, you are doing good to me.” I can easily understand this concept. For instance, I have three brothers—Andy, Alan and Ron. If you know my brothers, and if you do a kindness to them, it is the same as if you’ve done it to me personally. I have three sons—Josh, Mark and Nick. If you know my sons, and if you do a kindness to them, it’s even better than if you had done it to me. I won’t forget the kindness done to members of my own family. And the flip side is also true. If you mess with my family, you’re also messing with me. Hurt them and you’ve hurt me as well. People who live in Chicago are very familiar with this concept because Chicago is fundamentally a blue-collar city founded by immigrants from Ireland, England, Germany, Lithuania, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and in more recent years, from virtually every country in the world. Various immigrant communities sprang up all over the city so that even today, you have Haitian neighborhoods, Ukrainian neighborhoods, Filipino neighborhoods, Little Italy, Chinatown, and so on. Chicago is a tribal town. We talk about “my people,” meaning the folks we know, including our relatives near and distant, and people from our own neighborhood. That’s a huge concept that explains a lot about what makes this city tick. You take care of your own. That’s just the way it is. And those who show kindness to “your people” are showing kindness to you. And if someone hurts “your people,” you take it personally.
And that’s what Jesus means when he explains his rejection of the goats in verses 41-45. “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. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 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.’ 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?’ 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.’”
But that still leaves a few loose ends hanging out there. Does this passage really teach salvation by works, as some have suggested? And is Jesus teaching us that “honorable pagans” will go to heaven if they feed the hungry, care for the sick, and visit the prisoners? The answer is found in verse 34 where Jesus describes the sheep as “you who are blessed by my Father.” In Matthew’s gospel, the concept of being “blessed” goes back to the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). In that passage Jesus promised that those who are “poor in spirit” would inherit the kingdom of heaven. That refers to people who see their own sinfulness, and despairing of their own condition, throw themselves on the mercy of God, crying out for forgiveness and salvation. They mourn over their sins, they are counted among the meek, they hunger for God’s righteousness, and having found God’s mercy, they show it to others. Having experienced God in a personal way, they become peacemakers on the earth, enduring the suffering that comes to those who follow the way of the Lord. In short, the “blessed of my Father” refers to the truly born again whose lives have been changed by God through faith in Jesus Christ. They—and they alone—inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world. If understood correctly, the entire Pauline doctrine of justification by faith alone is found in verse 34.
But why does Jesus put the stress on the hungry, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned? Because caring for those in need is the logical outworking of the Christian faith. This sort of compassion flows out of a believer’s heart as naturally as wool comes from the back of a sheep. The sheep care for the “least of these” because to them it’s a matter of family honor. The goats end up in hell, not just because they didn’t care for the king’s needy brothers, but because their unconcern showed that they didn’t really love the king either.
IV. The Verdict Pronounced 46
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46 ESV).
The end of the story is short, simple, and impossible to misunderstand. The goats go to hell; the sheep go to heaven. The final separation is complete and irreversible. This verse conclusively refers to contemporary heresies, universalism and annihilationism. Universalism is the belief that in the end everyone, everywhere will be saved. It is the vain hope of the worldling that he can somehow live without God and end up in heaven anyway. And it is the fond dream of those whose loved ones cared nothing for Jesus and died without ever trusting him as Savior. But the vain hopes and the fond dreams are smashed on the rocks of biblical truth. Not everyone will go to heaven. Some people will end up in hell forever. Annihilationism, as its name suggests, is the belief that the unsaved do not suffer eternal punishment but are simply destroyed by God. But this verse uses precisely the same Greek word for “eternal” in both halves of the verse. The punishment is as “eternal” for the goats as life is for the sheep. Both last forever.
The great British writer J. C. Ryle sums up the evangelistic message this way: “Let us ask ourselves on which side of Christ we are likely to be at the last day. Shall we be on the right hand or shall we be on the left hand? Happy is he who never rests until he can give a satisfactory answer to that question.” Where will you be at the last day? On the right or on the left? Are you a sheep or a goat? All the issues of this life pale in comparison with this great question. Let each person who reads these words think how you would answer. What does your heart tell you? Can you say these words with the assurance of settled conviction? “Yes, I am trusting Jesus Christ and clinging only to him as my hope of eternal life. The Lord Jesus is my shepherd and by God’s grace I am counted as one of his sheep.”
St. Benedict’s First Rule
One final detail and I am done. Did you notice how both the sheep and goats are surprised at the judgment? Remember, this is a judgment of sheep and goats, not of sheep and wolves. Sheep and wolves are easy to tell apart, but sheep and goats can be easily confused, especially when they mingle in an enormous crowd. It’s almost as if no one knows who belongs where until the king utters his judgment. Certainly the goats are surprised to end up in hell. And everyone is surprised when Jesus declares that what you did or didn’t do for his “brothers,” it was as if you did or didn’t do it to him personally.
What’s going on here? This week I read about St. Benedict’s first rule for his followers: Hospitality. They must always show kindness to strangers because in so doing they are showing kindness to Christ himself. That’s why even to this day people around the world go to Benedictine monasteries for personal retreats. They know they will always be welcomed. The story is told about an old Benedictine monk who was about to lock the monastery door at the end of a very exhausting weekend. There had been so many guests and some of them had proved quite difficult to handle. He was secretly glad to see them all go so he could have a bit of rest. Just as he was closing the door, a new group of pilgrims walked up the path and asked for admittance. Under his breath, he said to himself, “Lord Jesus Christ, is it you again?”
And then I imagine myself standing in that great crowd on the judgment day. Eventually, my name is called out: “Ray Pritchard.” With some reluctance, and with butterflies in my stomach, I step forward. “So you were a pastor?” “Yes, Lord.” “Hmmm. It says here you wrote some books.” “Yes, Lord.”
“Do you remember when a friend got up and bragged about how great your latest book was?” “I guess so.” “I didn’t think it was so hot. I’ve written a few books myself, 66 to be exact, so I know what it takes to write a good book.” “Yes, Lord.”
“And do you remember when that fellow came up and kept telling you how you had just preached the best sermon he had ever heard.” “I do remember that.” “Frankly, it wasn’t much of a sermon from my point of view, not compared with a lot of sermons I’ve heard, and I’ve heard them all, you know. Plus part of it was just plain wrong.” I couldn’t think of anything to say at that point.
“Let me ask you one more question. Do you remember that Sunday morning after the third service when the Bears were playing on television and you were tired and hungry and in a hurry to go home, and on your way out of the sanctuary a little girl came up to greet you? You didn’t know who she was but you bent down to say hello and she hugged your neck and you hugged her back. Do you remember that?” “Not really.”
“That was me.” “That was you?” “Yes, that was me.”
A Really Long Sentence Coming Up
What a revelation the judgment day will be for all of us. The things we thought were so important, so crucial, so vital, the things we included on our personal rÃ©sumÃ©, the degrees we earned, the money we made, the deals we closed, the classes we taught, the friends we cultivated in high places, the buildings we built, the organizations we managed, the budgets we balanced, the books we wrote, the songs we sang, the records we made, the trips we took, the portfolios we built, the fortunes we amassed, the positions we finally attained so that the people of the world and even our Christian friends would know that we didn’t just sit on the couch watching the Simpsons every night, all that stuff that we take such pride in, the things that in themselves are not evil or wrong or bad, but the “stuff” of life in this world, all of it, every single last bit of it, every part of it, considered singularly and then combined together to give us our reputation, our standing, our place in the world, even our place in the Christian world, our name in the lights, our claim to fame, our reason for existence, our bragging rights, if you will, the proof that we were here and made a name for ourselves in the short 50 or 60 or 70 or even 80 or 90 years that we have on planet earth, think of it!, all of it added together means nothing, zip, zero, nada, vanity of vanities, all is vanity, and I think I’ve heard that somewhere before. That’s a very long sentence, isn’t it? While you are trying to diagram it, consider this. What matters to Jesus are the things we can’t even remember.
A cup of cold water.
A bag of chips for a friend.
A quick phone call.
A friendly hello.
A pat on the back.
A prayer over the phone.
A few minutes of conversation between classes.
A word of encouragement.
A visit with a sick friend.
A trip to the county jail.
This is a shocking truth. But in a way it is a comfort. I’ve been thinking to myself since preaching this message on Sunday about what the real application is. I don’t think it’s meant to say that the things I included in that extremely long sentence don’t matter. They do matter and we have to do them because life rolls on and we either get involved or we stay on the sidelines and complain. Someone has to balance the budget. Books must be written, companies managed, trips taken, connections made, speeches given, and in the end, someone’s name is going to be in lights, and it might as well be Billy Graham’s instead of Hugh Hefner’s. But those things, which are good and honorable in themselves, are not the bottom line of life. We are called to be faithful in doing whatever God gives us to do. And as we are faithful day by day, there will be a thousand chances, some big, some small, some momentary and almost microscopic, for us to do good and show kindness to others around us. Some of those moments we will forget. I suppose that over a lifetime, we’ll forget nearly all of them. Sometimes it will be a chance to help the hurting or to answer a question or to lift someone’s spirits or to pull out our wallet and make a contribution. And sometimes the need will be great and our response will truly cost us greatly in terms of time and money and effort and sacrifice. But whether big or small, massive or minute, the Lord Jesus sees it all and remembers it all and one day he will reward us for all of it.
So the message isn’t really, Go out and do good. Though doing good is a good thing to do. And it’s not about feeding the hungry per se, though the hungry must be fed. And prisoners desperately need to be visited and remembered and prayed for. No one can do all of it. And no one does all of it all the time.
“With Him” “For Him” “To Him”
But these words of Jesus offer a liberating perspective because it is easy to feel overwhelmed or perhaps resentful at the intrusion of others into our well-planned agendas. And sometimes, consciously or not, we can give off an air of condescension, of pride and superiority, of smugness because “We’ve found the truth and you haven’t, you poor, benighted pagans.” And don’t think those “poor, benighted pagans” can’t sense it. They’re not stupid. They know when Christians talk down to them. The words of Jesus help us see things in a new light.
We know that when we go “in his name,” he goes with us.
We know that we are going “with him” and “for him.”
But now we know that we are also going “to him.”
He’s on the receiving end of the mercy transaction.
He is there in the face of the Afghan refugee.
He stands with the homeless at the Harlem Avenue exit.
He is there with the single mother struggling with three young children.
He has a cell inside every prison in America.
He walks the halls of the cancer unit at Rush-Presbyterian hospital.
He hears the cries of abused children.
He is there in the assembly of Sudanese believers.
If you look, you can see him in the streets of Calcutta. Mother Teresa found him there. But he is also in Hanoi and Montreal and Lisbon and in a Haitian town called Pignon. There is a sense in which the Lord Jesus can be found wherever there is human pain and suffering. If there is a broken heart, you can find him there. If there is sadness or guilt, Jesus will be there somewhere. That’s why he was called “a man of sorrows.” And there is a deeper sense in which you can find the Lord Jesus wherever you find his people scattered on the earth. “Where two or three are gathered together …” What’s the end of that verse? “There am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20 KJV).
When we help his people, we are helping him.
When we dry a tear or offer a word of hope, we are serving him.
When we go the extra mile even though we are already dead tired and a bit frustrated because we don’t have the time or energy and we’re already behind schedule, but we do it anyway, he sees and knows what we have done, and he marks it down as if we had done it to him personally.
One day, long after we’ve forgotten the frustrations of this life, he will remember it. And we will be rewarded. It all comes down to this: Jesus forgets what we remember. And he remembers what we forget. You might even say that the whole gospel is in those two sentences.