A beautiful way of expounding on the verses in Matthew 25:
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, &c.
—Astonishing dialogue this between the King, from the Throne of His glory, and His wondering people!
“I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat,” &c.
—”Not we,” they reply. “We never did that, Lord: We were born out of due time, and enjoyed not the privilege of ministering unto Thee.”
“But ye did it to these My brethren, now beside you, when cast upon your love.”
“Truth, Lord, but was that doing it to Thee? Thy name was indeed dear to us, and we thought it a great honor to suffer shame for it. When among the destitute and distressed we discerned any of the household of faith, we will not deny that our hearts leapt within us at the discovery, and when their knock came to our dwelling, ‘our bowels were moved,’ as though ‘our Beloved Himself had put in His hand by the hole of the door.’
Sweet was the fellowship we had with them, as if we had ‘entertained angels unawares’; all difference between giver and receiver somehow melted away under the beams of that love of Thine which knit us together; nay, rather, as they left us with gratitude for our poor givings, we seemed the debtors—not they. But, Lord, were we all that time in company with Thee?
… Yes, that scene was all with Me,” replies the King—”Me in the disguise of My poor ones. The door shut against Me by others was opened by you—’Ye took Me in.’ Apprehended and imprisoned by the enemies of the truth, ye whom the truth had made free sought Me out diligently and found Me; visiting Me in My lonely cell at the risk of your own lives, and cheering My solitude; ye gave Me a coat, for I shivered; and then I felt warm. With cups of cold water ye moistened My parched lips; when famished with hunger ye supplied Me with crusts, and my spirit revived—/Ye did it unto Me.'”
What thoughts crowd upon us as we listen to such a description of the scenes of the Last Judgment! And in the light of this view of the heavenly dialogue, how bald and wretched, not to say unscriptural, is that view of it to which we referred at the outset, which makes it a dialogue between Christ and heathens who never heard of His name, and of course never felt any stirrings of His love in their hearts! To us it seems a poor, superficial objection to the Christian view of this scene, that Christians could never be supposed to ask such questions as the “blessed of Christ’s Father” are made to ask here.
If there were any difficulty in explaining this, the difficulty of the other view is such as to make it, at least, insufferable. But there is no real difficulty.
The surprise expressed is not at their being told that they acted from love to Christ, but that Christ Himself was the Personal Object of all their deeds: that they found Him hungry, and supplied Him with food: that they brought water to Him, and slaked His thirst; that seeing Him naked and shivering, they put warm clothing upon Him, paid Him visits when lying in prison for the truth, and sat by His bedside when laid down with sickness.
This is the astonishing interpretation which Jesus says “the King” will give to them of their own actions here below. And will any Christian reply, “How could this astonish them? Does not every Christian know that He does these very things, when He does them at all, just as they are here represented?”
Nay, rather, is it conceivable that they should not be astonished, and almost doubt their own ears, to hear such an account of their own actions upon earth from the lips of the Judge? And remember, that Judge has come in His glory, and now sits upon the throne of His glory, and all the holy angels are with Him; and that it is from those glorified Lips that the words come forth, “Ye did all this unto Me.”
Oh, can we imagine such a word addressed to ourselves, and then fancy ourselves replying, “Of course we did—To whom else did we anything? It must be others than we that are addressed, who never knew, in all their good deeds, what they were about?”
Rather, can we imagine ourselves not overpowered with astonishment, and scarcely able to credit the testimony borne to us by the King?
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, &c.
—As for you on the left hand, ye did nothing for Me. I came to you also, but ye knew Me not: ye had neither warm affections nor kind deeds to bestow upon Me: I was as one despised in your eyes.”
“In our eyes, Lord? We never saw Thee before, and never, sure, behaved we so to Thee.”
“But thus ye treated these little ones that believe in Me and now stand on My right hand. In the disguise of these poor members of Mine I came soliciting your pity, but ye shut up your bowels of compassion from Me: I asked relief, but ye had none to give Me. Take back therefore your own coldness, your own contemptuous distance:
Ye bid Me away from your presence, and now I bid you from Mine—Depart from Me, ye cursed!”