“Serving the Least of the Brethren” Sunday School Lesson, Matthew 25:31-46, February 15, 2015

 

 

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February 15, 2015

“Serving the Least of the Brethren”

Matthew 25:31-46

Uniform Series: “Serving the Least of His Brethren”

PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy!  Blessings.

(Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited)

Introduction:

Much of our culture is self-seeking.  But God is asking for flags of surrender to be waved for service.  That we give up and pour out all for Him; that we show the world a thing or two about true love; true appreciation to a Savior who poured out all for us.

The Bible tells us, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works . . .,” (Titus 2:7, KJV).  It’s time for a new pattern to be laid.  The foundation of self has to dissipate and new groundwork needs to be founded on who He is in our life and all that He has already done.  It’s time to show the world a different lifestyle.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “If you are always keeping blessings to yourself and never learning to pour out anything “to the Lord,” other people will never have their vision of God expanded through you,” (http://utmost.org/pouring-out-the-water-of-satisfaction/).

The Bible also tells us, “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life,” (1 Timothy 6:18-19, KJV)

Eternal life is an issue that was raised in last week’s lesson by the lawyer.  Here, Jesus teaches His disciples of those who will enter in or not.  He teaches the difference of being a sheep or a goat.

Matthew 25:31-33

31) “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”

Today’s lesson is known to be a part of The Olivet Discourse which begins at Matthew 24:1.  Throughout this “discourse,” Jesus is telling or prophesying of times to come.  He even foretold of the destruction of the temple which would occur in A.D. 70 (see Matthew 24:1-2).

I absolutely love how this portion of the discourse begins with the word “when.”  Not “if,” but “when.”  And the “when” that is being referenced is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is coming back!  Point blank.

A large part of Bible preaching and teaching is focusing on and preparing people for the return of Christ that they might reign with Him when He comes.

When some look down through history they don’t see the chain of events that ushered in the plan of salvation to mankind.  They believe or don’t believe based off of what they see with their natural eyes and their short-sighted minds. They don’t see the promise of the good to come that God has laid up for our futures. They don’t see the fulfilling prophecies that brought God’s kingdom closer to man.  When they look down through history all they see is a normal course of events.  They don’t see this beautiful, epic love story where God tries to woo mankind back to Himself.

But, rest assured, there is a future after this and Jesus says “when” the time comes, this is what’s going to happen.  The events that He speaks of are truths that are still unfolding.  We haven’t seen it yet, but it’s coming.

The Bible reassures us, “For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness,” (2 Peter 3:9a).  We are also told, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Know this, every word of God, for good or bad, for happy or sad, for those who believe or for those who don’t believe, will come to pass!  For right now He is withholding His hand of judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.

If you have seen the movie Titanic you can relate.  Person after person plunged into the icy depths with no hope of salvation save the few life boats in working order.  When Fifth Officer Lowe turned back and spotted the frozen bodies in the water he said, “We waited too long,” (IMDb).  For us and everyone out there, there is hope for salvation.  God’s waiting won’t add to the demise of the people as in the Titanic.  Rather, His “longsuffering” is because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9b).  Will all come and get into the lifeboat of Jesus?  No.  But God loves mankind so much that He wants to get as many people as possible out of the waters of sin that seek to drown them for all eternity.

But eventually, judgment will come.  2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night . . .”

Here, in today’s lesson we see we have a King and the King is coming back.  A time of judgment takes place; a division from those who believe and those who don’t believe; from those who are considered righteous and those who are called cursed: the sheep and the goats, if you will.

“When” this takes place, our lesson tells us “the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.”  Daniel paints a very similar picture to the one Jesus is describing.  He writes, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,” (Daniel 7:13-14).    

Here, we see Jesus obtained His dominion and declaring His reign in today’s lesson and sitting “upon the throne of his glory.”  Have you ever read a story when a king rides up in battle with his armies, obtains the victory and sits down on the throne declaring his rule?  This is the picture that comes to my mind when I read this verse.  Jesus, the King of all kings, comes with His entourage of angels; His armies of heavenly hosts and sits in His place of honor where He will rule and reign forever into eternity.

He is that prophesied “righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth,” (Jeremiah 23:5); and here in today’s lesson we can truly say, “Let the judging commence.”

“Before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”  When He does return, as already stated, a judgment will commence.  This is not the great White Throne judgment that takes place in Revelation 20:11-15.  This judgment occurs on the earth but should be taken just as seriously for in it those living for Christ will be blessed and those who are not shall be condemned.

Here, He is gathering “all nations,” meaning no one on the face of this earth will be exempt from this judgment.  Everyone will be examined and everyone will be separated “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” according to how He classifies them.  Psalm 4:3 lets us know, “That the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself . . .”

We see that here as those who are classified as being “sheep” are placed “on his right hand.”  Over and over again in the Bible we see the phrase “at the right hand.”  For example, in the Old Testament, God said, “Fear not  . . . I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10).  And, in the New Testament Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The “right hand” is a special place.  It gives the idea that those on the right are in a more honored and favored position than others.

The opposite occurred for those who are considered “goats” for they were placed “on the left.”  In the following verses we will really see the impact of what being in those opposite positions would happen.

Matthew 25:34-40

34) “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

First the “King” addresses those “on his right hand.”  With that He calls them, “Blessed of my Father” and pronounces that they will “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

In John 14:3 Jesus stated before His death, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  Here, we see the “King” has come back as promised and is now speaking directly to those have become inheritors of that prepared kingdom; to those that He is receiving to Himself.

Their service gave proof/evidence of the faith they claimed they possessed causing them to think outside of the box of their own little world into that of others who have needs.  Let’s reiterate from last week’s lesson: we are not saved by our works but our works prove to whom we belong.  “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17; read vss. 14-18).

Jesus gave the reason they were in their favored position: on a human level, they acted as He would in their care and concern for the “brethren.”  To do this means their faith was put into action, and that manifested itself through service, despite the cost to their personal being.

In another portion of Scripture Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour,” (John 12: 25-26).  Here we see them receiving that honor as the “blessed of my Father.”

Basically, pay day is coming after a while.  Just as in a natural job, so it is in the spirit.  Those who work good works will be rewarded.  That’s why Hebrews 13:16 tells us, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased,” (NASB).  Colossians 3:23-24 supports this by telling us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve,” (NASB).

The “sheep” know what it is to put their faith into action and make a difference in the world around them.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains; if it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

James, in his book wrote, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15-16).

James saw emptiness in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes, and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What are each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

Words without supplying to the physical, emotional or spiritual comfort of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

Jesus gave props to those who stepped in to help others.  James mentioned two issues that Jesus also stated: naked and food, giving further verification of the call to help one another in need.

Jesus said to those who helped the “hungred . . . thirsty . . . stranger . . . naked . . .sick . . .prisoner,” it was as if they were helping Him.  Their care for their fellow man matters in the eyes of heaven.  They supplied and filled need wherever it showed up and were blessed because of it.

The “sheep” didn’t understand when they ever saw Jesus in the needs described and gave aide to Him.  But, “the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

Treat people like you would treat Jesus.  Wow!

Let us remember, we are not saved by works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Rather, works give proof to the living faith on the inside: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17).

Matthew 25:41-46

41) “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43) I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Now it’s time to turn our attention to those on the “left;” “the goats.”  These are spoken to and receive the opposite of the sheep because what they did, or in this case, did not do, was opposite.

Instead of a reward of inheritance of a prepared kingdom, they were condemned to “everlasting punishment;” a place of “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”   Instead of being called “blessed” and “righteous,” they were marked as being “cursed.”

Jesus presented the same scenarios to the left residents that He did to those on the right and in each instance the words “no” or “not” stands out.  They were given the same chances and opportunities to help and make a difference but they refused.  This is contrary to kingdom living.  That’s not who Jesus is or what He’s all about.  Them that want to be where He is should be as He is.

Does this remind us of somebody?  Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).  Both the “goats” and the “rich man” had opportunity to help but were not moved with compassion to do so.  Both received the same end.  Here, we already stated above what the goats received.  In the case of the rich man the Bible tells us, “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments . . .” (Luke 16:23).

In our lesson, to reiterate the blessings of those who choose to “Serve the Least of the Brethren,” Jesus affirms that the righteous will go “into life eternal.”  Awesome!

Conclusion:

How we treat and serve people or not has an everlasting impact, for reward or punishment.

(Click here for PDF: Serving the Least of the Brethren Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below.  Enjoy!)

Below are activities to support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

Word Search: Serving the Least of the Brethren Word Search  Answers: Serving the Least of the Brethren Word Search Answers

Crossword: Serving the Least of the Brethren Crossword  Answers: Serving the Least of the Brethren Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Serving the Least of the Brethren Word Scramble  Answers: Serving the Least of the Brethren Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Serving the Least of the Brethren Draw the Scene

Use these “I Believe Jesus Is Coming Back” Circles to make a necklace or a button.  For the necklace, punch a hole and string it through.  You can decorate it with other adornments if you wish.  For the button, decorate and tape a safety pin to the back.  Enjoy!  Jesus is Coming Back PDF: JESUS IS COMING BACK (Don’t forget to use cardstock!)

JESUS IS COMING BACK-001013014

Below are more Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

“Unto the Least of These” (Many activities including some for group participation and coloring page for younger students.  Enjoy!)

“The Sheep and Goats Coloring Page” (Older students)

“The Parable of the Sheep (and the Goats)” (Games, activities and even self-portraits with a twist.  A lovely idea.  Enjoy!)

“Game: Sheep and Goats”

“The Sheep & the Goats” (Lesson Idea)

“Parable of the Sheep and the Goats Coloring Page”

“The Sheep and Goat Printable Maze” (Find your way through the sheep and goats to reach the finish.  Enjoy!)

“Retelling the Story of the Sheep and Goat with Felt” (What an interesting way to tell this popular story for little ones to understand and enjoy.)

“Sheep Mask” (Your students should definitely want to be a sheep.  Help them along by having them make these mask as a reminder of who they want to be in Christ.  Enjoy!)

“Sheep Storytime” (Here is a cute, little adorable, stand alone sheep that your students can make to accompany this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“How to Draw a Goat” (Though we really want to focus on being sheep, your older students may enjoy to learn how to draw a goat, step by step.  This could be a great reminder of what not to be.  Enjoy!)

“I Can Follow Jesus by Helping Others Coloring Sheet”

“The Spiritual Discipline of Serving”

“Encouraging Children to Serve Others”

 “Matthew 25:40 Memory Verse Activity”

“Sharing/Helping Others Ideas”

 

 

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