Missing the point on Matthew 25

I find several common themes of those who reflexively quote Matthew 25 (“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”).  It is a great passage that many sound teachers use properly, but false teachers abuse it regularly.  It is the pet verse of the Leftist writers and commenters at the Sojourners’ blog but they never get it right.

1. They don’t speak up for the 3,000+ of “least of these” who get killed in the womb every day because they are unwanted by their parents. They support the party whose platform calls for more abortions via taxpayer-funding. Who could be more vulnerable than those being killed for being unwanted?  If they applied this properly then they are killing Jesus in effigy by supporting abortions.

2. They don’t understand the context of Matthew 25: It is written to brothers and sisters — i.e., fellow believers — those in the church, not everyone else.

3. They think that lobbying Caesar to take from neighbor A by force to “give” to neighbor B qualifies as obeying Matthew 25. But take that to its logical conclusion: Would it qualify as obeying to lobby the government to make other people visit those in prison on your behalf, as also mentioned in that passage? Of course not. Jesus told you to do those things yourself.

4. They don’t read to the end of the chapter, because they typically deny this part:

41 “Then he will say to those on his left,‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  . . .45 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.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Do all those quoting Matthew 25 to justify forced wealth redistribution as a Christian act also affirm the truth of eternal punishment?

Do they think He will really return and glory and make a final judgment of people?

If you want to argue it is good public policy to do certain things, then feel free. But that is not what Matthew 25 means.

Matthew 25:31–46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘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.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

4 thoughts on “Missing the point on Matthew 25

  1. The socialists who use this passage also despise the parables starting at verse 14. That is anathema to them. Therefore the only conclusion a rational mind can reach is that they are using the text as a pretext without its context. Sojourners, truly one of the most deceptive voices in America, is a master at this.

  2. A very nice man wrote this as a comment to me at Sojo:

    Jesus was all about fair shares. That was his definition of the kingdom of God, a place where all were treated as equal children of God. And if we want to be part of the kingdom, we have to be willing to work and sacrifice and make sure everyone gets their fair share, that everyone is treated as an equally loved child of God in our world today. Over and over, Jesus pointed out that there were so many people who were not getting their fair share. He told his followers to help them — heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, feed the hungry, give clothes to those who need them, embrace the outcast, treat everyone as an equal even though your society says some shouldn’t sit at the feet of a rabbi. Be committed to making sure that everyone is treated fairly as an equally loved child of God, because that’s what God wants. Share everything you have with anyone who needs it. Why? Because God has shared everything with every one of us. And we must do the same. And do this even though many “religious” people will take exception because what you’re doing doesn’t fit their very narrow idea of what religion should be about. But do it anyway, and know that God is with you every step of the way.

    No one would dare argue that Christians should not be charitable, (which is what is said about those who disagree with the assertion that Christianity is all about how to distribute material wealth) but to say that Jesus was all about “fair shares”? I don’t see that at all. If anything, I see a fixation on material wealth as a distraction to the message of the Bible which is the Gospel. Look at how Jesus responded to the man who wanted him to make his brother share his inheritance:

    Luke 12:13-16
    Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

    It is eternally dangerous to “beg the Bible”; that is to presuppose a thing and then find Bible verses to support those presuppositions. That’s exactly what the Pharisees did, and why Jesus held his harshest criticisms from those who confused the message of the prophets with their own worldly and self righteous desires.

So, what do you think?

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