Why Jesus Is Not For the Poor—He Is the Poor

October 21, 2016

Matthew 25:41-46

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a dozen times. It usually comes from a preacher gearing up for a big invitation to the altar. They say at the judgment we will only be asked one question by God. “What did you do with my son?”

While I will not opine on that question, I do want to contend for what I would consider the most haunting question of the judgment. It’s right there in today’s text. The question is not Jesus’ question to persons. Its the peoples’ question of Jesus. And note both the sheep and the goats ask this same question.

‘Lord, when did we see you?

His answer is stunning. He effectively says something like, “Remember that time you bought groceries for that family at Thanksgiving whose dad had just been put in prison and then you turned around and made a completely anonymous and extraordinarily generous gift of cash to them to help them with Christmas gifts for their children? Well, I was a member of that family. That was me you helped.”

Note, he doesn’t say, “Great job! You did exactly what I would have done if I had been there.” Jesus is not saying if you are my disciple you should help the poor. He is saying, “I am the poor.” Whatever you did or did not do for one of the least of these you did or did not do to me.

In case what I just said didn’t register, and I admit the statement seems so radical as to not register, let me try it again.

Jesus is not for the poor. Jesus is the poor.

Wouldn’t this mean that loving the poor is the same thing as loving Jesus?

So am I taking this too literally? Or not?

By the way, this is that short daily text I owed you. ;0)


1. What are the implications of suggesting that “Jesus is the poor” rather than “Jesus is for the poor?”

2. If Jesus is not saying what I am suggesting he is saying then what do you think he is saying?

3. Do you struggle with this “take” on the text? Why?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Comments and Discussion

One Response

  1. A while back, in response to an earlier Daily Text, I offered a different thought re being needy may not just originate from a lack of money or physical comforts, it can be a spiritual state. I think the same is true re feeding and clothing the “poor”. After all there is much about “feeding on the Word of God” and being “clothed in righteousness”. John Wesley was all about enabling the physically wealthy and the physically poor to live a life centered in God regardless of their circumstances. The thought is based on my own experience of being spiritually impoverished.

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