Judging Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:31-46

Jerry A. Collins



Ø What judgment does this refer too?

Who are the sheep and what is their reward?

Who are the goats and what is their judgment?

As victory nears in Afghanistan, there are reports that members of the Taliban are attempting to escape detection by simply changing their headgear and blending in with the Northern Alliance troops or the citizenry. It makes it very difficult to discover who they are and bring them to justice. Jesus tells us that when He returns as King, He will have no trouble determining who is to be judged and who is to be rewarded. When He comes in His glory vs 31 He will come first to judge mankind at the end of the Tribulation as He establishes His reign on this earth.


The imagery here conveys Jesus as a King. We know at His first coming, He came as a servant not a King. He came to give his life a ransom for many not to rule. He came in humility not royalty. We will celebrate this fact during the next month in anticipation of Christmas. Our Savior, who came in the flesh and dwelt in our midst. But here He will come as King of all the earth and He will sit upon His throne. It is not an ordinary one for it is called His glorious throne. His coming will also be in His glory. This is the very thing Jesus had left behind when He came the first time. There was no glory in the birth. There was no glory in His ministry. There was no glory in His death. But when He returns that will all change. He will be recognized then as the One in complete authority. He will be duly understood by all as the One in charge. He will bask in all of His authentic glory both in His coming and in His reigning. So part of being in charge is to prepare everything for His inevitable rule. That includes cleaning house as He begins that reign.


There will be no hiding out at this judgment. Noone will be able to switch sides unnoticed. This judgment should be distinguished from (1) the judgment of believers in heaven. That will have already taken place and we, the church, will then return with Christ at this time to serve and rule with Him. (2) From the judgment of the wicked at the end of the Millennium called the great white throne judgment. There every unbeliever will be judged and cast into everlasting judgment. (3) From the judgment of the people of Israel who were either prepared or unprepared for His coming as Jesus taught in Matthew 24 and the parables of 25. Here the judgment is of all the nations vs 32. This is a judgment of all gentiles at the end of the tribulation who are still alive to determine who will and will not enter into the earthy rule and kingdom of Christ about to commence.

A. Their Description Jesus describes them as sheep and goats. Apparently they are all gathered before Him and are intermingled, undistinguishable. Sheep and goats representing two differing classes of people.

B. Their Separation However, Jesus knows who the true believers are and He separates them the sheep on His right hand, the place of favor and acceptance and the goats on the left, the place of disfavor and rejection (Gen 48).

C. The Invitation The sheep are invited to inherit the kingdom and are ushered alive into it prepared for them eternally.

Unique Features of this Kingdom

1. Peace. It will be the end of war.

2. Justice. Perfect justice for everyone.

3. Instruction. Knowledge will increase by instruction from the King.

4. No Curse. The earth will produce abundantly. Animals no venom or fear.

5. Sickness removed. King will be healer.

6. Freedom from oppression.

7. Longevity. Youth will die at 100 yrs.

8. Reproduction. Population will soar.

9. Light Increase of sun and moon.

10. Unified worship of God and Christ.

D. The Basis They had provided food, drink, clothing, shelter and care for the King 35-36. These routine kindness were evidence that they belonged to Christ. The context here is judgment not salvation. The evidence that they belonged in Christís kingdom was their works and that was based on feeding, clothing, visiting, helping believers during the tribulation.

E. The Question This statement of the King prompted these sheep to admit that they could not recall ever having ministered to the King 37-39.

F. The Answer They had served what Jesus calls these brothers of mine even the least of them vs 40. Who are these? These sheep had done these acts during the tribulation period. This specific group refers to the Jews who in this period of time experience worldwide anti-semitism with many of them being killed. The forces of the world dictator doing everything possible to exterminate them. Under these circumstances to befriend a Jew will put oneís life in jeopardy. Kindness displayed in these ways by caring for them will be an unmistakable sign of belief in Christ. Similar to those who protected the Jews from extermination at the hands of the Naziís.

G. The Judgment While the sheep are invited to enter into the kingdom prepared for them in eternity, the goats are removed from the earth and go to everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels, denied the privilege of being citizens of His kingdom on earth.

H. The Basis Their failure to extend mercy to the Jewish remnant suffering in the tribulation provided the evidence of their sympathy with the world dictator and support of his cause.

I. The Question The goats are also amazed at the pronouncement of Jesus and are prompted to ask when they did not minister in these ways?

J. The Answer To have failed to serve these with desperate and life-threatening needs was to have failed to serve Christ and this failure was proof they never belonged to Him.

With all wickedness now removed and judged at this second coming, the kingdom, which is the context of this judgment, will begin on earth with only saved individuals in physical bodies as subjects of this new kingdom and reign of Christ and a glorious reign it will be.

1. God observes our works and they are not unnoticed by a loving God who is concerned for His people. Serve an audience of one.

2. Our compassion for human need is evidence of the compassion of Christ in our lives.

3. Jesus especially notices compassionate works done for the least of His. James calls them widows and orphans. People who can never give back to you what you give to them. Genuine giving!