When Did We See You?

The most familiar sayings and stories often prove to be difficult to find the full depth of their meaning because, as some may know, familiarity breeds contempt. "Extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it." (Oxford Dictionary). Though I will never have actual contempt for the word of God, I have heard or read the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats since childhood, which is this Sunday's Bible reading from Matthew 15:31-46.

Once I committed the parable to my deep memory storage, every time that I have heard or read it since then, I thought that I could not possibly get any more out of it for the betterment of my life than I had learned previously. This usually left me, unintentionally, with a feeling that reading this parable was like walking a well-worn trail that I had regularly traveled. I frequently miss important things when I am not fully engaged.

However, I want to discover something in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats that I have not fully realized up to this point. Jesus never said anything that did not have several levels of meaning to it. Jesus' teachings are profound, yet simple. . .unpretentious, yet insightful. So, I am continuing my quest to dig deeper into this well-known parable. I hope that you will too. If so, consider these thoughts with me about Sunday's parable.

I think that we should not take for granted that we fully understand what it means to be subject to God's judgment. What do you see when you imagine how the return of Christ will be? Is that scene reminiscent in any way to the feeling you have when you are most deeply connected to God in prayer? If not, why? Shouldn't that feeling be present at that time as a believer in God?

What images come to your mind when you think of a shepherd tending to sheep and goats? Shepherds regularly separate their sheep from their goats, and they do it to care for them according to the nature of what their goats and sheep need.

The imagery of how shepherds care for the sheep and the goats under their protection should be highly considered as the way we are to care for one another as part of the family of God. But, like our human families, we often have disputes, misunderstandings, harsh words, and actions spoken and made between us. As human shepherds tending to both the sheep and goat qualities we have in us, what then happens to heal our hurts and pains? How do we overcome our disagreements? What helps bring about a reconciliation and care for one another?

With those thoughts to consider, I invite you to read the entire passage from Matthew that includes the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Please pray for spiritual insight to search with enlightened minds and eyes for the hidden messages that you have yet to discover.

Jesus wants us to never stop digging for the treasures of life that were set in the familiar mosaic of his word, but which we often overlook because we have passed by it too often to notice them readily.

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