Halleluyah, Jesus Christ, the Shepherd King, is coming back for His sheep. Beloved, be not deceived; Jesus is coming with all the sun’s brilliance, accompanied by the millions of angels. Moreover, He will sit on His throne, for this Son of man is the King of kings and not just a figurehead king. Jesus, the Lord of all, is coming back, and all nations will be gathered before Him. The dead in Christ will be raised first, and the living at the time of His coming will not be left behind.
The Shepherd King will separate all the people into two groups, like a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. God’s people are referred to as sheep under the authority of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Separation is coming, the sheep from the goats. Jesus called the sheep church: Come, you whom my Father blesses, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the world’s creation. The kingdom to inherit is where God rules, where the name of God is hallowed, and His will is done. The kingdom of God is the time and place where we live, with God ruling over our lives now and in eternal life.
The “least of these” in the church of the sheep, those on Jesus’ right, are not just the physically hungry, thirsty, impoverished, sick, and imprisoned. They include those hungry, thirsty, and impoverished of God’s Word. The sick and the imprisoned include those who are sick spiritually and are imprisoned under satanic bondage. The opposite in the narrative, the church of the goats, concludes with condemnation because they could not help. Jesus says, “For I was hungry, and you gave me no food, I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ You cannot give what you do not have. People need more than material things to live truly (Matt 4:4). The church of the sheep is spiritually awakened to seek those who hunger for salvation, meaning, joy, comfort, peace, love, and hope. The church of the sheep can offer nurture and lead people to experience Jesus as the Bread of Life. People have their five senses to be fed spiritually and mentally, and in Jesus Christ, we can fulfil these human essentials in His Words, Spirit, and creation.
The response from the church of goats suggests a spiritual blindness, ignorance, and disobedience to Jesus’ teachings. They answered, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? The church (parable) of sheep and goats connects spiritual service to the needy with eternal rewards and punishments. We need to be transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ for our eyes and hearts to be open to the needs of the ‘least of these,’ including fellow believers and ultimately to Jesus Christ Himself.
The nature of sheep church, spirituality, and theology is best described by John H Sammis (1887) in one of his hymns, ‘When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word.’ Sheep churches obey Jesus’ teachings and voice, relying on Him to lead them to green pastures. The challenge is that to get and enjoy the benefit of the Shepherd King, one must become a sheep, abiding, hoping, trusting, and following his Shepherd (Psalm 23, Jn 15:9-11).
To know the nature of goats’ churches, spirituality, and theology, we need to understand that goats can be very defiant creatures, run their own show and do not listen to their owner’s call. Goats are self-serving. Indeed, typical fences containing sheep ‘will not work on goats.’ Goats will always try to climb and escape anything that confines them. Goats are ‘never content with the plush grass in the pasture.’ For goats, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Goats can easily take the apples and leaves on the tree on the other side of the fence. Goats will eat anything, even garbage. It is easy to see goats’ senses, spirituality, theology, and characteristics’ even as Christians,’ exercising our freedom, thereby filling our lives with immoral and spiritual garbage and unfit to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Goats are accustomed to climbing the ladder for sensual, sinful, and immoral satisfaction. Do we struggle and even disobey the ‘obedience to God’ concept to satisfy our egos, feelings, and pride?
The church (parable) of the sheep and goats is not about the good deeds that get people into the kingdom. A sheep church is a mission-oriented church with mission-oriented and inspired leadership and membership in total obedience to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We do not earn the kingdom; we inherit it, a gift from God. Beloved, salvation is by faith through the grace of God and not by our good works. We are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus (Act 15:11; Rom 3:22-24). Jesus said to those on his right, ‘Come, you whom my Father blesses; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the world’s creation.’ Therefore, it is clear that the sheep’s salvation is not based on their charity works but on heart conversion. The good works mentioned in the parable are not the cause of salvation but the effect of salvation. The sheep church becomes like their Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, as we radiate the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. The reflection is that ‘good works in a Christian’s life are the direct overflow of these traits and are only acceptable to God because of the relationship between servant and Master, the saved and their Saviour, the sheep and their Shepherd.’
The issue in the church of sheep and goats is about the Christ in them that shapes their character, leadership, theology, conversion, language, and discipline. The sheep church and leadership do what they do in total obedience and surrender to Jesus, a necessity to help, love, serve, and visit, feed because they had been helped, loved, served, visited and fed. Jesus Christ in the church of sheep is the hope of glory and inspiration.
The goat church or Christian knows what they do as volunteers under social pressure and recognition. By their language, you will know the sheep or goat church. The church of sheep and goats tells the difference between the churches in that their hearts, values, lifestyles, and hope are Christlike and right with God and those who are not right with God. Judgement Day is very near. God is calling us to repent from the goat character of disobedient and insubmissiveness to the Lord of Jesus Christ, the Good and Chief Shepherd.