This article is directed to those who call themselves Christians and anyone else who is interested.
In Matthew 25:31-46 [New International Version (NIV)] Jesus said to his disciples what has come to be known as the parable of the sheep and the goats.
Note that Jesus is not referring to himself when he mentions the ‘Son of Man.’ Instead, he is referring to someone else whom God would send to preside over the coming Kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who believed the apocalypse was at hand. In this parable he is explaining what a person must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
This parable almost certainly goes back to the historical Jesus because he is telling his disciples that salvation comes to those who perform good acts. He does not mention religion, belief or faith. Indeed, they did not matter to Jesus.
Paul and the early Christians, however, believed acts had nothing to do with salvation. They believed salvation will come to those who believe Jesus died for their sins and was resurrected to eternal life. Therefore, they are unlikely to have made up the parable of the sheep and the goats.
Present day Christians, and others who despise and shun the poor, who believe their acts do not matter because they are saved by their belief in Jesus as their lord and savior who died for their sins are in for a rude awakening. Their reward will be eternal damnation.
And no amount of wishing it were otherwise matters a whit.
If they want a shot at the eternal life they so dearly hope for, they need to stop hating and demonizing the poor and start following the Golden Rule.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (positive version) or do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
In Mark 12: 30-31 [New International Version (NIV)], the historical Jesus also said in response to a question about which of the commandments was most important,
30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Additional Reading: Ehrman, Bart D. The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (2013)