In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats Jesus is summarizing for His disciples the importance of keeping watch and what that means practically in their day-to-day lives which He purchased for His own use, lest His coming take them by surprise as it did the unbelieving Jews. He compares that coming to a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats, which is exactly what His word does in the hearts of men as they are confronted by its truth. He calls those separated to His right blessed of the Father, and bids them come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the very foundation of the world. For their righteous deeds that mark them as sheep demonstrate the spirit of love that is the fruit of the seed of His word, and bears witness that they have been born again of His Spirit of truth into the newness of His life from above. And since they have been born of His Spirit, Jesus says that such charitable acts done even unto the least of His brothers who suffer deprivations in the advancement of His kingdom are reckoned as having been done unto Him, in a way similar to how Levi was reckoned to have paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham because he was born of him (Heb 7:9). Such reckoning also demonstrates the covenant faithfulness of Christ to those with whom He has become one through His word, and it is in this way that the Word judges the thoughts and attitudes of every heart and rewards both those who more actively expand Christ’s work as well as those who more passively support them; cf. Mat 10:40-42.
What does the parable now relate that Jesus as the King will say to those on His left? See Mat 25:41. Consider the sevenfold richness of the King’s words to the sheep in Mat 25:34 that like the dawn shines ever brighter (Pro 4:18): separated to His right; and separated not just to a place of honor, but then more intimately bidden to come by the King Himself (cf. Est 4:11, 5:2); and not only bidden to come but called blessed; and blessed not by just anyone, but blessed of the Father of the King; and blessed not just in regard to trifles, but to inherit a kingdom; and not just any kingdom, but a kingdom prepared specifically for them; and not a kingdom prepared hastily, or as an afterthought, but prepared for them from the very foundation of the world. As those words progressed from good to better and shone brighter and brighter of their joyous and hopeful future, in what way do His words pronounced upon the goats proceed from bad to worse, like a resounding hammer that strikes seven times louder and louder of their sad and woeful future? In spite of the potential ignominy of being separated to His left rather than the right, might they at least share in the light and joy of His presence? If they must depart, might they at least go to some distant part of His realm, but not entirely from Him who is the source of all light and life? If they must go away from Him, might they at least depart with a blessing? If not with a blessing, might they at least have the satisfaction of departing to a place of their own choosing where perhaps in spite of being accursed they might yet find some small happiness or measure of comfort? If they must suffer the punishment of fire for their life’s choices, might that punishment at least be but for a time and then come to an end? If they must suffer in eternal fire, might that fire yet be such that in the mercies of God takes into account their weak and human nature, and not that prepared for the most vile and evil of God’s rebellious creatures lest they suffer even more from the enraged torments of those who have always hated them and are so much more powerful than themselves?
In this light, is it conceivable that as man can die with Christ and be raised with Him to a state even greater than that of angels (1Co 6:3, Heb 2:5-9), he might also be liable to even greater judgment than those fallen angels who cannot die in order to be born again, especially if in spite of so great a salvation he chooses still the paths of darkness? See Heb 2:1-3, cf. Luk 20:35-36 and our studies on Answering the Sadducees 6-10 on Mat 22:30. What does this remind us of both our rights and responsibilities as men created in the image of God, and the grievous sin of neglecting so great a salvation? When we consider all of our many sins and their greatness for how they militate against His kingdom, shall we add to them one immeasurably greater by rejecting or treating lightly the remedy He Himself has provided in love at the cost of His own dear Son in order that we might be saved and not suffer such judgment? Cf. Heb 10:26-31.