Of all the lessons Jesus taught during His final week, the parable of the Sheep and Goats gets to me the most.
“Did you love people?”
That’s not the question I want to answer. Ask me what I believed. Ask me how many times I went to church. Ask me what side I fell on in any number of debates. Those are the places where I am comfortable. Those are the places where I can stand with confidence.
Those are the places where I can separate myself from others and say, “See! I’m better than they are!”
But Jesus’ question calls me to more than “being on the right side.” His question cuts into my heart: have I shown the love of Jesus in the way I have lived my life?
Jesus has some harsh words for the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in the last days of His life. He calls them a brood of vipers. He calls them hypocrites. He says they are like whitewashed tombs: well-decorated on the outside, but on the inside full of dead men’s bones.
They believed the right things. They said the right things. In a number of ways, they did the right things.
But they did not love people. It was more important to the Pharisees that they give exactly a tenth of the smallest spice than it was to show love or extend mercy to anyone.
Did you love people?
Is it more important for you to be right or to be loving?
Jesus pierces my heart with His question. Maybe I need to spend less time concerning myself with always being on the “right” side and start concerning myself with how I show love to God’s people. Maybe I need to spend less time doing the “right” things and start doing the loving things.
As Jesus neared the end of His life, His message was to ask people how they have treated others. He called out the people who treated others poorly. He emphasized the fact that the tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
He scolded the ones who should have known better and He showed mercy to those who should have been living better.
And then He died for all of them.
He loved people. He loved the least of these. Including me.