What is the basic message of Matthew 25:31-46?
At the final day there will be many surprises. Those at the right hand of the Son of Man never imagined that their manifestation of unselfish love would be so decisive. Christ will not commend them for the eloquent sermons they have delivered, the valuable work they have done, or the generous donations they have given. Instead, Christ shall welcome them into heaven for the little caring things done to the least of His brethren.
Those at the left-hand will also be surprised at the reason given by the King for His verdict. Some of them will even say:
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? (Matt. 7:22, NKJV). Although these are desirable deeds, without a loving attitude they are worthless. These people professed to serve Christ, but the Lord never knew them (Matt. 7:23) because they never really loved Him or His brethren. They didn’t practice the principles of true religion (see James 1:27).
Commentators have suggested various interpretations regarding who are
the least of these My brethren (Matt. 25:40). It is important to determine who they are in order to know the extent of our Christian responsibility. Some interpreters argue that Jesus’
least brethren are the apostles and other Christian missionaries. They find support for this view in Matthew 10:40-42 and conclude that the fate of all human beings depends on how they treat Christian missionaries. Other scholars claim, based on Matthew 12:48-50, that Jesus’
least brethren are His followers in general. There is no doubt that all the disciples of Jesus are His brethren; but the scope of Jesus’ words seems to be even wider. Christ
identifies Himself with every child of humanity. . . . He is the Son of man, and thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam. — Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 638.
Think of a time when you were in desperate need of help, and someone came to your aid. What did that aid mean to you in your suffering and pain? How did that experience show why it’s so important that we be willing to help others who are in need in any way we can?