“Expectation,” “preparation,” “production,” and “compassion.” Those four words come to mind when reading Chapter twenty-five.
The disciples have been quizzing Jesus on the date of his return – despite the fact that they are not yet used to the notion of him going away in the first place. Jesus has not been vague about the timetable. In fact, he’s been very plain. “No one knows about that day or hour.”
The result is that Christians should live their lives in expectation. They expect Jesus to come back, and they expect that it could be any time. They are, therefore, always prepared.
We prepare for Jesus’ return by being “productive.” One of the key words occurring in Matthew is the word “fruit.” God’s people are supposed to produce good fruit. They are to do good works, and good things are to come from those works. An unproductive Christian is not someone who is living in expectation of the Lord’s return. His destiny is to be “cut into pieces” and assigned a place where the hypocrites live, a place of great torture (24:50-51).
What kind of “fruit” should we produce?
A kind characterized best by compassion. The hungry are fed. The naked are clothed. The sick are nursed. The imprisoned are not forgotten nor ignored.
You should not miss the focus of the benevolent life in Matthew 25. The hungry, thirsty, naked and imprisoned are not those of the world, but those of the Church. Notice how Jesus characterizes them: they are his “brothers,” his family, the Church. I do not mean by this that Christians should not be benevolent toward all people, only that the focus of Matthew 25 is not on the world. It’s on ministering to the body of Christ. Unfortunately, entirely too often, Christians think more of benevolent deeds in the world than they do caring for their brethren in the Church. Matthew specifically says that such an attitude will land you where you don’t want to be – in a place of eternal punishment.