Sheep and Goats

Read: Matthew 25:31-46

He will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (v. 33)

Sheep are followers, but goats go their own way. In John 10, Jesus says sheep hear the voice of the shepherd and “follow him” (vv. 3-4). Sheep don’t have to be the smartest or the craftiest animals. They simply trust their shepherd and listen to him, knowing he’ll guard and take care of them. We’re to be like sheep.

Goats are another story. Goats aren’t known for listening or for following. Goats think they know the best way themselves. They will chew anything, climb over anything, go anywhere they think they can.

In Matthew 25, Jesus compares his return in glory to a shepherd separating sheep from goats (vv. 31-33). The proof, the visible evidence, of whether someone is a sheep or a goat is seen in how they treat the weak, the hungry, and the outsider. Jesus says that how we treat them is how we treat him. To reject or neglect such people is to reject or neglect him. Whether we welcome the stranger or not will be evidence of whether we truly welcome Jesus or not (vv. 34-46). This is what Jesus says to us.

Sheep follow the shepherd, but goats go their own way. Jesus is on the move toward the weak, the poor, the outcast, the naked, the imprisoned. Discipleship is following Jesus. Don’t be a sheep because you are afraid of being a goat, although the judgment is real. Be a sheep near Jesus that follows him.

As you pray, ask Jesus to lead you like a shepherd.

About the Author

Stephen Shaffer is the pastor at Bethel Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario.

This entry is part 13 of 31 in the series Looking to Jesus