TODAY, I want to preach the message, Trust the Judge.
We’re about to read the very last public teaching of Jesus before He gets arrested. So, this teaching must be very special. To Matthew, it’s the core, conclusion, and capstone of all that Jesus taught:
The upside-down Kingdom of Jesus.
Jesus Is The Coming Judge
But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ 41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
— Matthew 25:31-46 NLT
Warning: The passage sounds very simple, but it’s very deep, loaded with three difficult truths we’ll unpack today.
Let’s start with the most controversial one…
First: YOU CREATE YOUR FUTURE
We usually don’t talk about Hell at The Feast—but it’s right here in this passage.
People ask me: “Would a loving God really send humans to a place like that?”
Let’s discover the answer right here in what we read.
Do you see how the statements of the King to the sheep and the goats follow a pattern? One mirrors the other.
But whenever the pattern is NOT followed, it must be significant.
For example, when the King welcomed the sheep, he said, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. (v.34)
But when he talked to the goats, there was no mention of predestination; He didn’t say, “Inherit Hell prepared for them from the creation of the world.”
Truth: No one is predestined to Hell.
Check out what the King says to the goats:
The King did NOT say to the goats “I curse you”. He merely describes their state by saying, “You cursed ones.”
So, we ask, “Who cursed them?” Answer: They did.
No One Forces Anyone to Hell
I don’t believe God throws anyone to Hell.
Some religious teachers give the impression that God takes pleasure in torturing people in eternal hellfire. That’s medieval literature. I’m sorry, that’s not the God of the Bible.
May I share with you my personal opinion? (We can disagree and still be friends, right?) No one is dragged to Hell in chains, screaming, “Please! Give me one last chance!”
I don’t believe God created Hell; I believe we create Hell by the decisions we make in our life.
I believe people go to Hell of their own free will. One of my Theology professors described it this way: He says when we die, we’ll face a fork with two signposts. One points to Heaven and the other points to Hell. We choose.
One of my classmates said, “Sir, that’s crazy. Then everyone will choose Heaven!”
My professor asked, “Are you sure?”
What’s In Your Heart?
When I was in high school, my classmates and I went to Fiesta Carnival in Cubao. When I was a kid, that was the only place you could ride a roller coaster. People tell me the scariest roller coaster rides are the new ones in Disney World and Enchanted Kingdom.
I beg to disagree. Nothing is scarier than a roller coaster so old, its metal parts shake so much, you’re just waiting for it to fall apart.
I had two classmates who went with me. Let’s call them Risky Rick and Cautious Carl. Rick loved roller coasters and Carl hated it like death. I asked him why. Carl told me that when he rode the escalator for the first time, he got dizzy and wanted to throw up. So, he knew if he rode the roller coaster, he would actually die.
But when you’re a teenager, peer pressure will make you do the craziest things. I was there when Rick convinced Carl to ride the roller coaster together.
I was there when I heard both of them screaming at the top of their lungs. Rick was shrieking in utter delight while Carl was shrieking like he was being tortured.
When both stepped out of the rollercoaster, Rick was in Heaven and Carl was in Hell. It was the same ride, but two very opposite experiences.
My story is a very imperfect analogy. Please don’t take it literally. But I share it to you to emphasize one simple point: I believe your afterlife will be a mirror of what is in your heart.
For example, a loving person will feel at home in Heaven. But a hateful, selfish person will feel tortured in Heaven because he can’t stand the presence of perfect love. He’d rather go to Hell.
But what about those who go to Heaven?
Believe me, it’s not what you think…
GOD WILL MAKE
We picture saints sitting on fluffy clouds doing nothing.
Let me quote again what the King said to the sheep: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” (v.34, emphasis mine)
Jesus wasn’t only welcoming the sheep to His Kingdom; He was giving them His Kingdom.
Jesus was making them Kings.
Dear friends, this is your future. You’re going to rule the multiverse as Kings and Queens beside God.
Jesus is doing Genesis Theology. He uses the language of Genesis, where God invites humans to be His co-rulers made in His image who will represent His compassion to others.
May I Go Deeper?
Here’s a great paradox.
Jesus said that what we do to the poor and sick and strangers and prisoners, we do it to Him. Because they are the Imago Dei (Latin for Image of God).
But those who serve them are representing God. They are the Imago Dei too. Everyone is the Imago Dei, both the one being served and the one serving.
God-Carriers serving God-Carriers.
Is your mind buffering? You know, trying to cushion a bad, damaging message? Mine did. Here’s the final point…
Third: TRUST THE JUDGE
Shepherds in that part of the world kept both sheep and goats in one flock. Throughout the day, both sheep and goats eat together, walk together, talk together, and I suspect watch Tiktok together.
At the end of each day, shepherds will separate them.
By the way, sheep and goats look alike.
Yes, goats can be slightly browner and have dark spots even when clean. But especially after sunset, it takes a Shepherd to distinguish between a sheep and a goat.
Does this sound familiar? Jesus said only at harvest will you be able to separate the wheat and weeds.
In the same way, only King Jesus will know if a person is really following the King or just pretending to follow the King.
Jesus is giving you a loud wake-up call.
Because most of us assume we’re the sheep.
If I ask you who are the goats, many will say, “Oh, that’s easy, Bo. My materialistic officemate, my homosexual neighbor, and my cousin who curses in every sentence she says…”
Why? We believe too much in our own discernment. We quote a Bible verse and we think we know. (Just to remind you, the Pharisees were Bible scholars— they memorized every verse in their Bible—but Jesus said their judgments were really bad.)
Our capacity to judge glitches is more than you know.
Our mind has a virus. It’s called pride. We’re blinded and make wrong judgments all the time.
On the Last Day, I believe all of us will eat humble pie.
The guy you thought was a goat? The dude who you believed had a one-way ticket to Hell? You might just be surprised.
Judge Jesus might just say, “He’s a sheep. He was following me.”
Here’s what we need to do:
Stop judging. Delegate all judgment—even self-judgment—to Judge Jesus. Only He knows if you’re a sheep or goat. Only He knows if another person is a sheep or goat.
The Prophet Jeremiah said, “The human heart is deceitful above all things.” (17:19 KJV). That’s why every single day, submit to the CT (Computed Tomography) Scan of the Spirit—like a three-dimension. Do an examination of conscience, and pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…” (139:23 NLT)
Trust Judge Jesus
Does the idea of Jesus as Judge make you uncomfortable?
Face it. People don’t like thinking of Jesus as Judge. We’d rather picture Jesus as our Savior, Healer, Provider, and Miracle Worker.
But Judge? Nah. That makes us nervous.
But Jesus as Judge on Judgment Day is supposed to be good news. How come? Think about it. The Jesus who forgave the woman caught in adultery, and the Jesus who ate with tax collectors and drunkards and prostitutes, and the Jesus who befriended the Samaritan woman with five husbands—is the same Jesus who will be our coming Judge. This Judge loves you.
God’s Love Will Change You
This passage is controversial among Evangelicals because it seems to contradict Paul’s teaching that salvation is by grace and not by works.
Because in the story, the Judge didn’t ask, “Did you accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior?”
Instead, what determined Kingdom entrance was how one treated the poor and sick and prisoners.
But this entire debate comes from a wrong expectation that the Bible is a Systematic Theology Textbook. It’s not. The Bible was written by different authors writing to different churches with different pastoral needs.
And this teaching is consistent in Matthew. All throughout the Gospel, Jesus talked about how our works have consequences.
Mark these words. Our Catholic Faith has always taught that Matthew and Paul are two sides of the same coin: To be a Jesus Follower, you’re saved by Grace—and this Grace transforms you to do good works.
God loves you, yes, but it’s not just a warm, fuzzy, harmless love. God’s Love is dangerous; If you allow it, Gods’ Love will change you forever.
My dear friend, will you let His Love turn your life upside-down?
Will you let Him change your purpose? Your values? Your schedule? Your priorities? Your habits? Your attachments? Your very identity?
‘I Will Teach You To Be Truly Human’
As we enter into Worship today, Jesus comes to us as He came to the Samaritan woman, and Matthew, and Zacchaeus, and Mary Magdalene. He finds us in our mess, and in our sin– and if I were to paraphrase, He says, “Come, I will teach you to be truly human.”
Remember how shocked the sheep were when the King told them what they did? They said, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? (v.37)
To be truly human is to be so self-giving, you forget about what good things you do—because it has become second nature.
Jesus shows us not just by words but by His life—He takes up our place on the Cross. Jesus shows us what it means to be the righteous sheep by being the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
I invite you to see Jesus as both Judge and Savior. Jesus is not judging you based on your past sins but on your trust in Him. That He can turn you around. That His resurrection will be your resurrection too.God wants you to have eternal life—to enjoy Him forever. He wants you to be His partner. He wants to be in a relationship with you. That’s what He predestined you from the beginning.