Jump Start # 2170
Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
Our verse today comes from the judgment parables of Matthew 25. Three pictures of the coming judgment. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins tells us to be ready because you do not know the hour. The parable of the talent emphasizes the basis of the judgment is what we have done. The parable of the coming king illustrates how we treat one another is an indication of the judgment.
In our verse today, Jesus says that He was hungry, thirsty, naked and in prison and the disciples came and took care of Him. Who among us wouldn’t do that to Jesus? We love Jesus. We believe in Jesus. We follow Jesus. The bridge that Jesus builds here is that the way we treat one of His, is the way we treat Him. And, in this we find this little expression, “even to the least of them.” What and who are the “least of them?”
First, one thing the system of Christianity taught was equality. The arguing apostles, trying to determine which among them was the greatest, was quickly solved by Jesus. The one who is the greatest is the servant. The one who acts like a humble child is the greatest. There wasn’t a pecking order among the apostles, although it’s easy to manufacture one. Peter’s name usually heads the list and Judas’ name is always last. There was that inner group of three, Peter, James and John. It would be easy to assume who is among the top. Jesus wouldn’t have it.
Although the roles of shepherds, deacons, and preachers are different, there is an equality among them. They are all sheep in God’s flock. The roles of men and women are different in the kingdom, yet there is an equality among them. They are all Abraham’s children and joint heirs of salvation.
The least does not refer to least in value to God. The soul of the least is loved and blessed by God. The blood of Jesus was shed for the salvation of the least. In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, the last one hired, at the eleventh hour, who worked just one hour, received the same pay as the one who worked all day long. The master made them equal and the master was generous with his pay.
I’ve had heard folks through the years declaring what they couldn’t do. “I can’t lead singing.” “I can’t preach.” “I’m not a teacher.” From that they conclude, “I’m just not worth much to God.” WRONG. Our value isn’t measured by what we do publicly. Everyone is important. Everyone carries different roles. Everyone has different opportunities. The simple stay-at-home mom, who spends the day with her kids, is just as valuable as the man who is preaching overseas. It may not seem that way in our book, but it is in His book. Raising those children to be God-fearing, decent, servants of Christ is just as important as sitting down and studying the Bible with someone. Without that mom, those kids could easily grow up into wild weeds that turn their backs on the Lord and live carelessly and irresponsibly.
Jesus said whoever gives a cup of cold water to a disciple will be rewarded by Heaven. A cup of cold water is nothing. It doesn’t even cost anything. Now, to dig a well, or bring in a truck load of bottled water, that’s impressive. But just one cup, is seen and remembered and rewarded by Heaven. How about one card sent? One word of encouragement? One helpful deed? Didn’t change the universe, but it certainly made a difference to one person.
Second, Jesus may well have used the concept of least in comparison to Himself. I was in prison. I was naked. I was hungry. They were following Jesus, not each other. It was Jesus who was changing the world, not them. It was Jesus who had fed them, healed them, taught them and sacrificed for them. Many of the crowds followed Jesus for what they could get from Him. A free meal. A healed child. A question answered. But, if the roles were changed, they would help Jesus. But would they help each other? Would they help one of the followers?
We would love to help the greatest. Help the movie star. Help the super star athlete. Help the celebrity. But what about a no-body? What about one of the common folks? What about one of us? Why feed one of us? Why take water to one of us? Why visit one of us?
When you help one of the greatest, maybe they will reward you. Maybe they will let you sit with them. Maybe they will get you tickets. Maybe they will make you feel important for a moment. But a common guy can’t do any of those things. A common guy can only tell you “thank you.” The least may be us. So, why would I feed one of us? Why help one of us?
Because it’s the right thing to do, and in doing that, it’s like helping Jesus.
Third, Jesus connects the least to Him. You cannot ignore the least, and be right with Jesus. To do nothing to the least, is to do nothing to Jesus. We can’t be ugly with each other and right with Heaven. How we treat one another is a reflection of our love and our faith in God. If we can’t forgive each other, God won’t forgive us. If we can’t love each other, we really don’t love God. If we can’t be kind towards one another, we really aren’t kind towards God.
This parable is set in the picture of the judgment. Jesus would be leaving earth for Heaven. The apostles would set the pace, but they weren’t God on earth. They never took the place of God. They weren’t to be worshipped, honored or followed. It was always Jesus who was to be followed. But out there, among the multitudes, would be people like little Zacchaeus, a social outcast, but one who wanted to see Jesus. There would be the Canaanite woman, who was an outcast, but came to Jesus because of a possessed daughter. There would be the woman at the well in Samaria, who had so many broken marriages, yet she came to believe. The audiences were full of broken, outcasts, and troubled people. Take care of them. Love them. Help them. Be there for them. This is what Jesus did.
The woman with the issue of blood. The bent over woman. Unnamed in the Bible, yet known to Heaven. Not leaders in the church. Not penmen of the books of the Bible. Not apostles. Not preachers. We don’t even know what happened to them after their brief encounter with Jesus. The end of the story, their story, was never revealed. Unimportant, we may assume. Easy to forget. Least, but not to God.
The least is important to God. How the least is treated matters. The little guy needs the big guy to help him. We are all connected to each other. The preacher needs an audience to preach to. The audience needs a preacher to teach them. Shepherds need a flock to lead. The flock needs shepherds to follow. Who is most important? Why do we even ask that question? Why does it matter? The least will get into Heaven, just as the greatest will, by their faith in God.
No one is too big for God. No one gets to bend the rules of Heaven. No one gets a pass. Each of us must use our talents and the opportunities placed before us to do the most good that we can. What we do may seem like nothing to some. That’s ok. We are not trying to please some. We are trying to honor God.
Even the least matters in the kingdom.