Goat and the Sheep Parable in the Bible – Matthew 25:31-46 – Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer for Goat and the Sheep Parable in the Bible – Matthew 25:31-46

I pause and slowly calm myself. I make the sign of the cross, becoming more deeply aware of God’s presence within me and in everything that surrounds me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the gift of being moved by God’s word, which I am now allowed to read, listen to, ponder, and allow it to shape Christ within me (Gal 4:19), that I may become merciful, just as the heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36). I ask for this in my own words or by using the following:

Please grant me the grace to be able to listen from the outside and from within. From the outside, the words I read, from within, the feelings and impulses that arise. Slowly, I begin to read the passage from the Gospel. Word by word. Line by line. I gaze upon Him who speaks to me.

2. Reading – Listening: Goat and the Sheep Parable in the Bible – Matthew 25:31-46

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

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37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

3. Thoughts on the Gospel: Goat and the Sheep Parable in the Bible – Matthew 25:31-46 – Meaning and Commentary

“The Son of Man” is a Semitic term that means a human being. Ezekiel often uses it in this sense when God addresses the prophet as the “son of man” to emphasize the distance between God, who is transcendent, and the prophet, who is merely human.

However, in Daniel 7:13-14, this term takes on a special significance as it denotes the Messiah who introduces God’s kingdom. It’s frequently used in the Gospels and can also be found in Acts 7:56 and Revelation 1:13 and 14.

Scholars believe that Jesus gave Himself this title. In the Gospel of Matthew, this term is attributed to Jesus, especially when He speaks about His suffering (Matthew 17:12, 22; 20:18, 28), His resurrection as an eschatological event (Matthew 17:19; 26:64), and His glorious return (Matthew 24:30 and 25:31).

Matthew attributes the title of king to Jesus (Matthew 1:23; 13:41; 16:28; 20:21) because He is the Son of God and rules together with the Father. In our text, His royal authority is exercised in close relationship with Him. The chosen ones are “blessed by my Father,” and the kingdom they are invited to is the one prepared for them by God. This form of the verb, called divine passive, is often found in the Holy Scriptures and always implies God as the implicit subject. In this text, this kingdom is eternal life.

In this passage, the kingly position of the Son of Man is associated with judgment. The king, especially in ancient times, was always regarded as the supreme judge. The judgment carried out by Jesus is universal and includes all peoples (v. 32), but it’s not collective. It doesn’t judge nations but individual persons.

The symbolism of the shepherd is also linked to the kingly position. In ancient times, the king was often depicted as the shepherd of his people. The Old Testament also speaks of God, the king of Israel, as a shepherd (Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34). However, the New Testament uses this title for Jesus (Matthew 9:36; 26:31; John 10).

Shepherds in the Holy Land during Jesus’ time tended mixed flocks of sheep and goats. However, they separated them at night since sheep prefer sleeping outdoors while goats seek shelter. In this text, the sheep represent the chosen ones because of their value over the goats and because of their white color, which often signifies salvation in the Scriptures.

In this passage of the Gospel, we see how Jesus identified Himself with the poor and marginalized on the fringes of society.

He will judge everyone, especially those who didn’t have the opportunity to know His gospel, based on the mercy shown to those in need. Everyone has the chance to accept or reject Him, if not personally, at least in the person of the poor, with whom Jesus identifies. 

4. Meditation – Thinking

I am now reflecting on the heard Word of God. I am looking at Jesus and other individuals in the passage. I am observing how the Word of God touches my thoughts and feelings, how it reveals God to me and me to myself and others in Him. The following thoughts or questions can also be helpful:

  • Who are the smallest among the brothers with whom Jesus identifies?
  • What will my life become when I am able to see, love, and serve Jesus in the smallest of brothers?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

I allow everything within me to fall silent. I am simply present in God, just as He is present in me. Perhaps from this silence and stillness, I will sense even more of God’s address and His desire for me to be always with Him and to do everything with Him and in Him…

7. Action

When I enter into a personal relationship with God, He transforms me, makes me more loving, and inspires me to take concrete action…

8. Prayer at the end

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus Christ, the King of the universe, and for the opportunity to accept Him and show our love to Him in our relationships with all people, even the most marginalized and rejected.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is the time when I became aware of and articulate what was happening within me during prayer. The following questions can assist me in reflection:

  • What was happening during prayer? What feelings and thoughts could I discern within myself?
  • What did I learn about God, His relationship with me and others, and my own relationship with Him and others?
  • How did I conclude my prayer? What did I receive in it for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can jot down my insights, discoveries, and realizations. I also note where I encountered difficulties, as these can be valuable in understanding God’s relationship with me and my relationship with Him. They can also help me find a more suitable way of praying. Then, I express gratitude to the triune God for everything.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si

Text from the Bible – King James Version (kKJV)



Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!