The Parable of the Sheep and Goats answers the question asked in 24:3b another way, for here we are not dealing with virgins awaiting the bridegroom or servants awaiting the master’s return but instead, with judgement day.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 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. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
The parable begins with Jesus sitting in judgment of the Nations where His followers (sheep) are at His right and His non-followers on the left. Then His judgment begins:
“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. 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, 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.’ (25:34-36)
The righteous want to know when they did those things… and Jesus answers:
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (25:40)
No doubt you will recall that Jesus spoke of “the least of these” several times in Matthew’s account already− what we are seeing here is what being “ready” for His return looks like. Those who took care of “the least of these” went into the Kingdom that was prepared for them, but the others went elsewhere (24:46).
How do we live our lives− are we kind, generous and attentive to the needs of others? Do we put others ahead of ourselves? Are we willing to give to those in need?
Or do we prefer to let others get their hands dirty… or reach for their checkbooks?
I remember how old Ebenezer Scrooge answered that question: “Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses… Surely the taxes I pay to support these institutions are enough…”
For a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is clearly not enough, for Jesus has made it crystal clear that the way we each live our lives is the determining factor in whether or not we are “ready” for His return… which could happen Today.