Matthew 25.31-46 – The Last Judgment
Posted: 28 July 2010 in Matthew

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When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats…..

I have seen this passage referred to as “The Great Surprise” rather than “The Last Judgment.” The point being that both groups appear surprised when they learn of the respective verdicts being passed upon them. The sheep are not conscious of having done anything to merit salvation, and, conversely, the goats are not conscious of having done anything to merit condemnation.

The implication is that we do not here have a religion where salvation is to be achieved through works, but rather one where it has to be achieved through the grace of God. Were it otherwise, the sheep would be conscious of having earned their salvation through their many good works, whereas the goats would be unsurprised to learn that they were finally to receive their comeuppance, because of their lack of good works.

Instead, without the sheep realising it, God has wrought in them a docility to his will, and the works which are pleasing to himself. The surprise of the goats, on the other hand, is at least partly to be accounted for through the realisation that attempts to earn their own ticket into heaven have not, in fact, succeeded in doing so. They were not conscious of their utter dependence upon God.

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