It Matthew chapter 25 starting in verse 31 Jesus talks about when the Messiah will sit on His glorious throne of decision making and separate the righteous from the unrighteous. He calls the righteous 'sheep' and the unrighteous 'goats' and makes interesting statements and no one there really knows the depth of what he is talking about.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' " - Matthew 25:34-40 ESV
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.' " - Matthew 25:41-46 ESV
In a sense this creates a paradox. Few reading these words identify with the goats. It makes sense that they don't know what is happening but what about the sheep? Have no righteous people ever read Matthew 25?
I don't think we can begin to fathom the full identification Christ has made with people.
What happened yesterday at ten thousand Thanksgiving tables? What happens everyday in ten thousand prisons?
There is a kingdom that has been prepared before time began for a group of people that have no idea what they are doing most of the time. They have just received a gift from God because of what Jesus did on the cross. A gift of grace that changes them moment by moment and then they functioned many times unconsciously in that gift. They are kind sometimes but in reality they have no idea who they are being kind to. They love unlovely people and Jesus says, 'I am the unlovely person you cared for.'
The goats may say, 'We gave on purpose. We had compassion. We helped strangers sometimes. When did we not minister to you?' and Jesus will say, 'You never ministered to me.' all those things done on purpose never ministered to God. All those things left Him out in the cold naked and hungry because He was not included. He was not welcome. He was not known. There was no communion there.
I read this and it doesn't make me want to buy coats and give them to the poor or collect more cans for the food bank. Those are great things but there is a deeper and simpler motivation that this sparks in me. I want to know grace and receive it. Then I want to see the person standing behind the person right before my eyes. That cold, hungry, lonely, addicted, successful, well dressed, 'better educated than I am' person is a person that Jesus fully identifies with. So fully that even knowing the truth of that identification I can not fathom the depth of it.
Later, on a day not far from now, millions will stand before a dazzling throne of decision and say, 'When did we minister to you? No, We would remember if we ministered to you.' and Jesus will console some and dismiss others but the blindness will be lifted. They will all see a work of grace. Grace that ministered to people and to God.