During the week before his death, Jesus said these words, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
As I am reading this I am wondering what kind of criteria is he going to use to separate them? Is it church attendance? Tithing? Correct theology? Abstaining from evil? The right political affiliation? Abstinence? I wonder what it will be?
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
Really!!? When I was growing up in church I was told I was making it to heaven by staying away from bad people and bad things.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Wait a minute! You mean to tell me that is where I could have hung out with Jesus! I was told you meet Jesus through a really cool church service or worship song. I realize now that Jesus was all around me, I just didn’t recognize him.
Ken and C. J. have been married for many years. They live and run a deli in Bodega Bay. Bodega Bay has one homeless man, a man named Garland. Garland dressed poorly and acted a little strange and slept in the city park. But being Christians, Ken and C.J. befriended Garland and offered him food and kind words.
When their store was broken into everyone in town accused Garland. But Ken and C.J. knew it couldn’t have been their friend. In fact, they prepared a very expensive gift basket for Garland and gave it to him. The next morning the police showed up with Garland, who was holding the expensive gift basket, certain they had caught the burglar of their store.
Ken and C.J. to protect Garland from embarrassment said, “Oh, Garland! Thank you for bringing your basket back. We forgot to put some things in it we wanted you to have. And by the way, here’s the change I forgot to give you.” And Ken made up a number. In front of the police he opened the cash register and gave Garland $38.67. The police let Garland go without saying a word.
A few mornings later Garland died in the park in his sleep. Ken and C.J. were called to the attorney’s office. They were told that Garland had made them the sole heir in his will. He wrote “The entire contents of my travel bag are
Inside the bag was a bag of birdseed, a Bible and a bankbook. The names on the savings account were Garland and Ken and C.J. The last entry in the savings account was the day before for $38.67 bringing the balance to well over three million dollars.
The bankbook had been used as a bookmarker in the Bible. Garland had put it in a unique place and the Bible lay open to Matthew 25:35 and the verse was underlined. “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home and you invited me into your house. Jesus said, ‘When you did it for the least of these My people, you also did it for Me.'”
Garland had hidden wealth that nobody knew about.
When Jesus Christ hung on the cross very few of those standing there knew how wealthy He was.
He was God. He was the creator of the universe and He owned everything.
We have a hidden wealth and power that many times we underestimate.
Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when he gave his mission statement, “The Spirit of the Lord is with me. He has anointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. To heal those who are brokenhearted. He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin and the restoring of sight to the blind, to forgive those who have been shattered by sin, to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Where is Jesus?
He’s the homeless person looking for shelter.
She’s the abused mom who is looking for safety.
He’s the dying aids patient looking for someone to care.
She’s the prostitute who is begging for intimacy.
He’s your co-worker who’s depressed.
She’s the mother from Niger wondering how she is going to feed her 3 children.
It is the forgotten widow barely getting by on her social security check.
It is your neighbor who is facing bankruptcy and losing his home.
It is the elementary student who was abandoned by his father.
It is the drug addict looking for another fix.
It is the foreigner who faces another day of prejudice.
It is the Garland that leaves you 3 million and 38 dollars and 67 cents.
Author Max Lucado says, “Jesus lives in the forgotten. He has taken up residence in the ignored. He has made a mansion amidst the ill. If we want to see God we must go among the broken and beaten and there we will see them, we will see Him.”
Author and Speaker Tony Campolo says “Jesus never says to the poor come find the church. But he says to those of us in the church, go into the world and find the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the imprisoned.”