Recall that in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats Jesus has foretold His coming in glory to sit upon the throne of His glory. But as we have seen, His glory is not at all like the glory of the kings of this world, in as much as His kingdom is also not at all like theirs. Throughout His ministry Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man, as He has just done in the previous verses; what term does Jesus in the parable now, finally, for the first time use to refer to Himself? See Mat 25:34. Also recall that earlier in His ministry Jesus had resisted an attempt by those who were impressed with His miracles to take Him by force to be king, because He understood the type of king that as sinful men they were seeking was not the king that could lead them into the true righteousness, peace and joy they wanted and that He came to give them; see Joh 6:14-15 and cf. Joh 2:23-25. In light of what we have come to understand about the nature of His glory, what is the significance that Jesus is now, finally, after being rejected by the worldly leaders of the Jews and about to be crucified, clearly assuming the title of King? Cf. Psa 2:6, Isa 9:7, Jer 23:5-6, Zec 9:9-10, Mat 21:5, 27:11,29,37,42, Joh 19:12-16. What does this again remind us about the nature of Jesus’ reign as King in righteousness and truth and the way He conquers His enemies that is so much more glorious than the way the kings of this age conquer theirs? By conquering His enemies through the sacrifice of Himself, how does He also entirely preserve their free will, so that He can also be perfectly just in extending mercy and forgiveness if they repent, but judge them in complete righteousness for their deeds done according to their own free will if they do not? Think: are the kings of this world ever perfectly just or completely righteous in their exercise of coercion to conquer their enemies?
Who does the King address first in His judgment upon the nations—the sheep on His right or the goats on His left? What is the significance that the goats who pushed with side and shoulder and thrust at all the weak with their horns (Eze 34:21) are addressed last? See Luk 13:30, and consider that those on the left would have had opportunity to see the reward of the righteous, adding to their eternal torment (cf. Luk 13:25-29) and were perhaps even deceived by the false hope within them about their own reward, which they expected, according to the spirit of the world, would be even greater; see Mat 19:30, 20:8-16, cf. Est 5:4,8,12-14, 6:6-12.
How does the King describe those on His right whom He addresses first? See Mat 25:34. How does that contrast with how those on His left are later described? See Mat 25:41. What is the significance of being blessed, or cursed, not just by a great King, but by the Father of the King? Recall the blessings and curses of the law of Moses in Deut 28 and see Heb 8:6, 2:1-3, 1Ki 2:5-9; cf. Joh 8:29. Who had Jesus earlier taught were blessed in regard to the kingdom He came to establish on earth as it is in heaven? See Mat 5:3-12, Luk 11:28. What does this remind us about how one comes to be a sheep, sorted to the King’s right, and blessed of the heavenly Father? See Act 3:26; cf. Gen 12:2-3, Deut 11:26-28, Joh 3:3, Gal 3:13-14. In what way do the verses that follow also illustrate this important truth? See Mat 25:35-36.
What does the King in the parable say to the sheep on His right who are blessed of His Father? See Mat 25:34. How does this again emphasize the reward with which Jesus has been encouraging His disciples to keep watch and be on the alert in a way that contrasts with how the scribes and Pharisees and other unbelieving Jews had failed to do so? See Mat 24:45-47, Mat 25:10,21,23. As the glory of the King who suffered and died for His people to establish His kingdom in righteousness and truth is so very different from the glory of the kings and kingdoms of the world, is it surprising that those who are referred to as sheep would be the ones to inherit it? What does it mean to be a sheep? Is being a sheep in God’s kingdom the same as being a “sheeple” in the kingdoms of the world? Whereas “sheeple” are easily influenced and controlled by the ruling power because they follow the herd and passively submit to any authority, who do the sheep of God’s kingdom follow, and to what authority do they submit themselves? Cf. Joh 10:2-5, Act 4:18-20, 5:27-29. Are those who follow Christ as sheep, who are docile and don’t retaliate but look to their shepherd as their only defense in a world of wolves, any less despised than sheeple? Although sheep are despised by the world, even as Christ was, are they so in the kingdom of God? Again, what does this remind us about how the glory of Christ and His kingdom that His people will inherit is very different from the glory of the kingdoms of this world?