How many of you think you can tell a sheep from a goat? Wait a minute! It may not be as easy as you think. I have some pictures to show you and we will see how well you can tell a sheep from a goat. Here we go. (Hold up the picture sheet provided with this lesson and let the children see if they can tell the sheep from the goats. Print the answer page on the back side so that you can see it.)
Wow! That wasn't as easy as we thought it would be, was it? Here are a few hints that might help. The easiest way to tell a goat from a sheep is that a goats tail usually sticks up in the air but a sheep's tail hangs down. If sheep have horns, they are usually curved. A goat's horns are less curved. Sheep usually have fluffy wool that must be sheared, while goats have flatter hair.
Do you think Jesus can tell the sheep from the goats? Well, that's what our Bible lesson is about today. One day Jesus was speaking to a group of followers about the day when the Son of Man would come in all his glory. (Son of Man was a title Jesus used for himself.) He said, "He will sit on his throne and all of the nations would be gathered before him. He will separate the people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." How did he know the sheep from the goats?
Jesus went on to explain, "He will say to those on his right, 'I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
"When did we do that?" the righteous ones will ask.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'
"Then he will turn to those on the left and say, 'I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
"Then they will ask, 'When did we refuse to help you?'
“He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
The point of this lesson is not that doing good things will get people to heaven. The point is, if we truly belong to Jesus, we will show love for others as Jesus shows love for us. That is how Jesus can tell his sheep from the goats.
Our Father, help us to show love for others as you show love for us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.