This passage in Matthew 25:31-46 is not simply a lastsection in Jesus’ eschatological discourse; it is really the consummation of his discourse, giving the final answer to the question of his disciples concerning the time of his Parousia. The Lord Jesus, when he utters these words, is on the mount of Olives. Yet two days and he will hang upon the accursed tree. However the Son of man must suffer all these things and thus enter into his glory (Luke 24:26). For the joy of this glory which is set before him he endures the Cross and despises the shame and is set down on the right hand of the majesty on high (Heb. 12:2).
In this passage the Lord lets the light of the prophetical word shine more and more unto the perfect day. And we do well to give heed unto it as unto a light shining in a dark place—until the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts.
When we pay rather close attention to this passage we notice that Jesus is really not introducing a new subject here; but rather is bringing to its consummation the subject he had touched upon and further elucidated in Matthew 24:42 through Matthew 25:30. Had the Lord not touched upon the judgment of the righteous and of evil men in the Parables of the “Faithful and Prudent Servant” in Matthew 24:45-51? And, again, had the Lord not portrayed the need of faithfulness and watchfulness in the Parable of the “Ten Virgins” in Matthew 25:1-13? And was this not against the backdrop of the coming of the Lord to receive his church in glory and to cast out those whom he “never knew”? And, finally, had the Lord not portrayed the need of being watchful unto prayer and diligent in “few things” in order that we may be set in the day of judgment over much in the Kingdom? Such was the teaching in the parable of the “Talents,” wasn’t it?
We noticed the “warning” note in this all. It is an exhortation and inducement unto faithfulness in the righteous. And, let it not be forgotten, this warning “pertains” to the wicked also, and that, too, in the church! It will be brought into reckoning in that day. For he that has known the way and has not walked it shall be beaten with many stripes! (Luke 12:47). However, these evil are promised nothing. They are assured that as long as they walk in sin they shall not inherit the Kingdom prepared for the blessed of the Father. The promise is to the faithful now and in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Since this passage too is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction in righteousness, in order that the man of God be thoroughly furnished unto every good work, let us proceed with our inquiry into its meaning.
The passage here in Matthew 25:31-46 is rather lengthy. We shall quote it in part. We kindly request the attentive reader to read the passage in his own Bible. We quote: “But when the Son of man shall come sin his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats . . . 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 . . . Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels . . . .”
What a scene the Lord here foretells!
“But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory”!
It will be the realization of what the God of heaven showed to Daniel in the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, when he had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. It is the scene of the Throne of God in the midst of world-history, all the “nations of the world.”
Who is this Son of Man? Why does he sit upon the Throne to judge? And why is his Throne-called a “throne of glory”?
Let us quote Daniel 7:9, 10. There we read: “I beheld till the thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: and his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: and the judgment was set and the books were opened.” It is evident that this is the same Throne as seen by John in the book of Revelation, Chapter 4.
But notice further the place that the Son of man has in Daniel’s vision upon his head. “And I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto the son of man, and he came even unto the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given unto him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,” Daniel 7:13, 14.
When Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, who came to him by night, he tells this teacher in Israel, the heavenly things, that is, the heavenly and eternal background and plan of salvation. This is the great love of God. And this great love is such that the Son of Man must be lifted up on high in the deep way of the Cross, death, resurrection and ascension at God’s right hand, Lord over all (John 3:14, 15) For do we not read inJohn 12:31, 32: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth (out of the earth) will draw all men unto myself. But this he said signifying what manner of death he should die.”
From the foregoing we may learn the following concerning the Son of Man:
1. That He is really the Son of God, who is the true God and real and righteous man in one person. He is very God of God. I John 5:20.
2. That He is the Mediator of God and man, who will be perfected through suffering. He must suffer all the weight of the wrath of God against the sins of the “whole human race,” and thus be exalted on high. Thus He is “brought to the ancient of days” according to Daniel 7:13.
3. His being lifted up does not merely refer to his being lifted on the Cross but implies his exaltation at God’s right hand through death, the resurrection and ascension.
As such a Son of Man, exalted in the deep way of the sufferings of the inexpressible anguish of hell, has hisown peculiar glory. In Matthew 25:31 we read: “But when the Son of man shall come in his glory . . . ! What is this glory? It is quite evident from Daniel 7:14 that the glory is, as to its content and nature, nothing else but the “dominion given him.” The glory of the Son of Man that He had all “authority” in heaven and on earth given to him (Matt. 25:18). It should not be overlooked that this glory is not the glory which the Son has by virtue of His Godhead as such, but rather the glory which is his by virtue of being the Son of God, the person of the Son, in our flesh. The man, Christ Jesus, is “crowned with glory and honor”! (Hebrews 2:9). Wherefore we read that he is thus crowned with glory and honor “because of the suffering of death”! And, again, we read: “though he was the Son, yet learned [he] obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
And, truly, of this “glory” Jesus is very conscious during all his suffering. It is the subject in the temptation by the Devil in the wilderness. Is not the final temptation of Satan couched in the following language: “To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it hath been delivered unto me: and to whomsoever I will I give it”? (Luke 4:6). Was not the issue which way to the glory? And is not glory also here in the mouth of Satan to have “authority” over all things! And does this not emphasize for us the tremendous urgency in Christ’s soul, who “for the joy that was set before him endured the Cross and despised the shame, and thus set down on the right hand of the majesty on high”? (Heb. 21:2).
Here is the glory of him “who is (in his human nature) the very effulgence of God’s glory, the expressed image of his being”!
And is this not the theme of the song of the angels inRevelation 5:11, 12, where we read: “And I saw and heard a voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands: saying with a great voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that has been slain to receive power, and: riches and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and, blessing.”
Here, too, the “glory” consists evidently in “power, riches and wisdom.” Yet, the “key-note” of this glory is “power”! It is the great “ability” of the Son in our human nature that is the theme of the song of the angels. And, let it, not be overlooked, that these angels are singing the praises of their Lord. SeeColossians 2:9, 10, “for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power.” The latter “principality and power” refers, no doubt, to the angel-world! Confer Colossians 1:16.
In the light of all this teaching of Holy Writ we may once more say: what a scene that will be when the Son of Man comes in his glory! A glory which Satan could not give him. But it is a glory of which Jesus speaks. in the sacerdotal (high-priestly) prayer in John 17:1, 2, where we read: “These things spake Jesus: and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that the son may glorify thee: even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given him, he should give; eternal life.” And, again, in idem, verse 5, we read: “And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Or, again, we read in the same chapter in verse 10: “and all things that are mine are thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them.” And, finally, not to forget the beautiful passage in verse 24, “Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world.”
From this all it is abundantly evident that this glory of the Son of Man is:
1. It is the glory which he has as the Person of the Son, truly God, in his human nature. The man, Christ Jesus, is glorified.
2. It is a glory which consists in the exhibition of power, might, dominion which the Father gives him over all things.
3. It is because of this glory that Christ suffered many things. He is perfected through suffering that many sons may be brought to this glory. It is the ever repeated theme and refrain of the High-Priestly prayer in John 17.
4. It will be the exhibition of the “throne of glory” in the day of judgment, when God shall judge the world through one man, Christ Jesus.