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.’
Here in Matthew 25, Jesus is still talking about the end times, the last judgment, and the state of our souls. This passage is sort of the closing of the whole conversation.
Jesus paints a picture of people standing before the judgment seat of God, and it looks like people are being judged by their works.
Could that be true?
Is the measure of our salvation really how kind we have been to “the least of these?” Doesn’t that go against the whole, “Not by works…” part of Scripture.
Maybe. But probably not.
What Jesus is saying here is that the Christian, the true Christian, the one who really loves the Lord, will overflow with love for the lost, the hurting, the broken, the distressed, the needy, the outcast, the sinner, the orphan, and the widow. So much is our love for God to be intertwined with care for “the least”, that feeding, clothing, and housing them is as if we’re doing the same for the Lord.
True hospitality, which is what is in view here, is not what makes us saved, but the truly saved cannot live without it. So much so that if a person lacks this quality, it’s likely that they are not saved at all.
‘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.’
How can hospitality be so linked to our salvation?
Because it’s what Jesus has done for us. We were spiritually naked, hungry, homeless, and hurting, without any hope of rescue until Jesus broken into the darkness of our desperation and gave us a royal home, a wedding banquet, and kingly garments. His sacrifice for us is the ultimate display of true hospitality. We were the least of these, and he gave all for us.