Good morning/afternoon and Happy Lord’s Day! Today’s challenge is a little Bible heavy, so bear with me if you’re unfamiliar and correct me if you’re very familiar! Haha
I think Matthew 25:31-40 needs a little bit of deconstruction when it comes visiting a prisoner. We see in Matthew 24 that Jesus had just left the temple in Jerusalem and is sitting with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, which is like this big hill by the temple (modern picture below).
While they sat, he began to teach about signs that the end of all things will be near. So our passage today really is the culmination and judgment of everything in the previous parables. In this, he talks about visiting those in prison and John Calvin’s commentary (found free online here, but I highly recommend getting the iOS app here) actually makes an interesting note on the passage as a whole:
But while Christ, in recommending to us the exercise of charity, does not exclude those duties which belong to the worship of God, he reminds his disciples that it will be an authentic evidence of a holy life, if they practice charity, agreeably to those words of the prophet, I choose mercy, and not sacrifice, (Hosea 6:6;) the import of which is, that hypocrites, while they are avaricious, and cruel, and deceitful, and extortioners, and haughty, still counterfeit holiness by an imposing array of ceremonies. Hence also we infer, that if we desire to have our life approved by the Supreme Judge, we must not go astray after our own inventions, but must rather consider what it is that He chiefly requires from us. For all who shall depart from his commandments, though they toil and wear themselves out in works of their own contrivance, will hear it said to them at the last day, Who hath required those things at your hands? (Isaiah 1:12.)
So, here we see a similar message to Matthew 7:13-23: that doing good things to look good is hypocritical and does not actually glorify God. I bring this up because, of all of the challenge days, this gets the least amount of airtime and buy in. Visiting or writing to a prisoner is not fun. Many times, they’ve broken the law in huge ways. Yet, just like us, they need God’s grace.
Now, you can go for the cop out and find someone wrongfully imprisoned in a foreign country, maybe someone in jail for sharing their faith, but I encourage you to go to the website of your county jail and find someone to write to and share the hope of Christ. If you’re not a Christian, write anyway and show someone that you care. They could need a kind word that day.
Featured Organization: Prison Fellowship
Recommended reading: Matthew 24&25
Song of the day: “Difference Maker” by NeedToBreathe