The Shepherd, Sheep and Goats

We considered the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) and the parable of the talents (Mat. 25:14-30). In both of these parables, Jesus urges us to be ready for His return. In the first parable we are to be ready by constantly watching for His coming, and in the second, we are to be ready by serving Him faithfully till He comes. In the next passage, Jesus speaks directly of His coming and the judgment to follow (Matthew 25:31-46). In the previous two passages He spoke of it in parabolic language: the coming of the bridegroom, and the coming or return of the man who took a journey.
This passage begins with Jesus’ words, “When the Son of Man comes…” The Lord does employ a parable to describe the judgment He will execute at His coming. He describes Himself as a Shepherd Who will separate His sheep from His goats. The sheep represent the righteous and the goats, the unrighteous. This judgment seems to be the final judgment which will include everyone. For Jesus says, “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (vs.32). It seems to be the final judgment for the outcome is either eternal punishment or eternal life (vs.46). The issue Jesus emphasized here about this coming judgment is the treatment of His brothers which is probably a reference to His disciples, that is those who have believed in Him. In the judgment, the righteous will demonstrate that they are righteous by how they treated other believers; the unrighteous will be proven to be unrighteous by the way they treated the Lord’s people – His brothers.