In the late mid-80s a film came out entitled “Back to the Future 2.” The antagonist, Biff Tannen, manages to get an almanac from 2015 to a younger version of himself in 1955. From this almanac the younger Biff is able to anticipate every major sports game played between 1950 and 2000. He capitalizes on this intel and makes his fortune by successfully gambling on the winners.
This is an intriguing idea. Would it not be advantageous to know how the future will play out? It is not without cause that Jesus is called the Faithful Witness. He often speaks about the future. He tells us that there will be a Final Judgement and he tells us what will happen then. As his followers, we would certainly be remiss if we did not pay attention to what he says.
In Matt. 7 Jesus says what will happen at the Final Judgment. People will be surprised. They are surprised because they thought that doing great and mighty works was an indicator of belonging to Christ. It is not. To their dismay, Jesus dismisses them in spite of their spectacular works and says, “I never knew you.” Unfortunately, these people placed great weight on the big show.
In Matt. 25 Jesus once again talks about what will happen at the Final Judgment. This time, as with Matt. 7, people will be surprised again. Jesus grants admittance to the kingdom to those who are on his right hand. The reason for their admittance is their works of compassion given to those who are Jesus. Indicating their surprise, they ask, when did we do these things to you? Jesus responds that when they ministered to the “least of these my brothers” they did it to him.
Similarly, those on his left are surprised. They are surprised when Jesus sentences them to eternal punishment because they did not minister to him. They do not understand when or how they didn’t minister to the King. The King responds by saying that they didn’t minister to him when they declined to minister to his followers.
Jesus never tells us about the future to merely give us random bits of intel. Prophesy is always given to inform present behavior. Jesus tells his followers about the Final Judgment so they will be ready! It is incumbent upon us to adjust present behavior for future reckoning.
So how do we ready ourselves? First, we place no weight on great and spectacular works. Jesus simply is unimpressed at the big show. Second, do place weight on knowing him. Third, make it a priority to minister to the “least of these.” This group of people refers to believers who are in need. This will come up at the Final Judgment.
In ministering to those believers who are in need we must be attentive to those who are around us. We note those in our spheres. We make it a priority to give to those ministries who are ministering to the least of these. When we align our priorities to caring for believers we prepare ourselves for that final day.
This message comes from Matthew 7:21-23, 25:31-46. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.