Out of Yeshua's various end times / judgment parables, the parable of the sheep and the goats has got to be my favorite. I love this illustration because of how it points us back to the things that are important, the heart of the Torah. It gives us the attributes of the bride.
One could argue that this passage comes as a midrash on our Torah portion this week. At first glance, Genesis 24 seems nothing more than a recount of Abraham's servant's search for a wife for Isaac. But, on a deeper level, this is about God's search for a bride for His son.
From this story we get a hint at who this bride is. When Abraham's servant stops by the well, he asks God for a particular sign. "Let the one whom you have created for Isaac come by wearing tzitzit." Oh wait…that wasn't it. Maybe, "Let her be able to answer these four doctrinal questions." I'm still not getting it.
No, Abraham's servant was in search of kindness. He asked for someone who would gladly get him a drink of water and then go even further by watering his camels, the "least of these." What he asks for isn't just some strange act of divine graffiti--it is an essential characteristic of the bride. In fact, it is the defining aspect of the bride of Christ, as our Messiah taught, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35 ESV).
Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and goats builds on this, listing specific acts of kindness--feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, caring for the broken. These are what separate a sheep from a goat, the bride from all the rest. My hope is to one day have the opportunity to perform each of these at least once.
What does this have to do with the Gospel? Everything. It is the Gospel in action. It is the good news expressed through a meal, a glass of water, a kind word, a thoughtful visit. Through each of these acts we are communicating the good news that you matter. Broken you may be, you are accepted and loved in the eyes of God and His church. And His desire for you is healing. This is just one small taste of the healing God can give.