by SAMUEL O. TAIWO
They called him gentle Jesus, meek and mild. And that was all I knew about him.
He was the soft spoken, six-foot-six-inches tall, blue eyed, blonde haired, slender figured Jesus with a neatly and evenly trimmed gold coloured wavy beard. His fingers were one-third the width of a piano key; his words were flawless, always spoken in the aristocratic English parlance and almost altogether poetic; his countenance was shy, almost altogether feminine; his skin was peach pale; and his head always glowed with an oval shaped fluorescent light. And if I’d seen this man piously pacing St Peter’s Square during one of my pilgrimage tours to St. Peter’s Basilica at Rome, I would almost certainly have dropped to my knees before him like Thomas did to Jesus, exclaiming in petrified wonder; ‘my Lord, and my God!’
But boy! How stupid would I have been!
Because the Jesus of the Bible never described himself as any of this! And it is my solid conviction that he would be more than shocked and disgusted to see such romantic and knightly depictions of him in our modern world!
That nameless, homeless old man I hurriedly walked past yesterday just by the Starbucks corner on my way from my office to the parking lot; that dirty little, hungry looking child I saw on the TV crawling to a dumpster for something to eat in the middle of nowhere way down the horrid slumps of Africa; that person I refused to help, or denied a job, not for any justifiable reason, but because of their race, or their gender, or their religion, or their skin colour; that talent in my brotherman which I despised, not because it promoted evil, but because it would make him gain more recognition than me; that fellow man with whom I do not want to be associated because of his mental instability and his need for constant medical attention…these people would certainly have passed off as that Jesus for whom is reserved my tithe and offering…the type about whom I was never taught in Church!
It is my unwavering belief that if the Jesus of the Bible came walking down the aisles of our palatial cathedrals in his signature appearance of Matthew 25: 42 and 43, we would, like the Pharisees of old, rent our priestly garments to shreds, thundering at the top of our lungs as we charge at him with a venomous rage known only to the gates of Hell: “away with him! This is the house of God!”
I tremble at the thought of rejecting a Jesus who comes to me in his most vulnerable state seeking my sincere and genuine assistance. I shiver with fear at the thought of treating with derision that man from whom Isaiah says we hid as it were our faces! If the God of the homeless man I walked past the other day is the same God by whose hands my eternal fate shall be determined, what chance do I stand in not being treated by that God at the end of time the very same way I treated that homeless man?
The frightening truth about Matthew 25:41 to 46 is, that those who did not honour the Jesus who came to them as ‘one of these little ones’ shall go into ‘everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’. Their spiritual code name is ‘Goat‘, and they’re known in heaven as the ‘accursed ones’. And yes! I’ll readily do all within my power to avoid being numbered by heaven among such group of persons!
At Hebrews 13:2, the Apostle Paul strictly warns Christians not to forget to be kind to strangers because angels do sometimes come to us as strangers! As a good student of the Bible, you’ll be quick to observe from indepth study that the patriarchs of old sometimes referred to angels as the gods, or God.
Furthermore, God takes any form of maltreatment done to strangers or defenseless people very seriously. At Exodus 22:21 to 24, YAHWEH firmly warns:
21. Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
22. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
23. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
24. And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
Here’s one of the few times a God of love thunders angrily: “I’ll kill you with the sword!” Isn’t it scary to commit an offence over which God decides to carefully and painstakingly supervise your punishment?
This is how I’ve come to understand Matthew 25:31 to 46:
If my brotherman, for whose redemption Jesus so gruesomely died is overtly, covertly, or in any way whatsoever despised in my eyes by reason of his race, gender, accent, ailment, physical disability, speech impediment, skin colour, nationality, mental retardation, or any other reason for which God’s human creation is so treated with spite in the 21st century, then it is certain that my lot at the end of time will be sealed by those words which has so damned many professing Christians to the eternal fires of Hell:
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
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”.