Team Sheep vs Team Goat

by Bryan Ruby, Bethel Christian Writers

If you haven’t taken advantage of the new year’s 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, it’s not too late. By kicking off 2023 with three weeks dedicated to Him, we’re giving God free rein in our personal lives, families, Bethel body, and gifts of service. 

The Father always begins by guiding and changing each of us to look more like His Son, Jesus. Then uniting us to see His Kingdom come and His will done on our piece of earth, and far beyond (Matthew 6:9-13).

For the last two weeks, we’ve heard anointed teachings, inspired podcasts, and read living and active daily scriptures. All pointing toward our Generous God, His Gospel Generosity, and this week’s final emphasis, Generous Giving. And what better example of Generous Giving than Jesus’ apocalyptic parable—Sheep vs Goats?

If you believe the Super Bowl, World Cup, NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships, or The Olympics to be some of the best match-ups in the world, you haven’t seen anything yet. Sheep vs Goats will blow all those epic showdowns to Kingdom come! ***

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 26:31-46 shows Him gathering the nations in all His glory while angels fill the grandest of stadiums. He begins to divide every living soul, one from another, into two worldwide opposing forces: Sheep on His right—Goats on His left.

No time frame is given for this hard-to-fathom storied task while billions of souls are separated. But we’re talking about the One who holds seconds, years, and generations in the hollow of His hands.

For those chosen early while the Divine Captain called each name, what was going through their minds as they watched multitudes being added to their ranks?

Before visiting Jesus’ final declaration, we have to stop for some imagined conversations from Team Sheep, and then from Team Goat.

SHEEP: His light tap came from behind. “Hey, my name is Sawyer”—his southern drawl was warmed by an exuberant smile—“can you speak English?”

The stranger from the other half of the world wore a draped, multi-colored Dashiki, and when the two joined hands, their ten fingers wove together. A communion of ebony and ivory. His grin was broad and electric. “No, I can’t, but it’s amazing how well you speak Swahili.”

They were kindred spirits without uttering another word. The only true Spirit breathing in and through them waves upon waves of peace and joy . . . settling over millions and millions of believers in unison, scattered as far as the eyes could see.

GOATS: Axel’s jeers across the chasm matched his cocky demeanor. “What do you think about those pathetic morons over there? All that singing and hugging and bowing to that guy on the ridge like idiots!”

The suit next to him faced the wide expanse and growled, “It’s ridiculous! I’m a deacon and I would never allow such outrageous behavior in my church.” His pious attitude fit as perfectly as his three-piece. “Matter of fact,” his chest puffed with self-righteousness, “our Elder Board just ordered 1000 bumper stickers for our congregation. GOD HATES SINNERS!”

Axel’s attention was dismissive. “Like the song says, ‘I did it my way’, and blew up that abortion clinic real good.”

Suit slid over as if not to be infected. “Thank God I’m not like you.”

Both stopped when a deadening silence broke out among the billions, “Hey, there’s that guy again on the top of the ridge,” Axel whispered, his finger flailing above the masses in front of them. “He’s the one who separated us. I’ve heard rumors there’s going to be some sort of competition. If there is, we’re going to smoke those losers. After all, we are the Goats—Greatest Of All Time!”

“Shut up, I can’t hear what He’s saying!” Suit took a sharp breath, “Wait—what? I’m a goat? But . . .”


Jesus speaks out six experiences shared by, first, His sheep, then the goats, and their past responses to each.

To His Sheep. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

Then, He lists the six shared distinctions: I was hungry and you fed Me, thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you took care of Me, gave Me clothes, looked after Me in my sickness, and shared your time with Me while I was imprisoned.

The righteous (sheep) will answer, “When did we do these things?”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sister of Mine, you did for me.’”


Take a moment later to re-read the conclusion of Jesus’ world finale parable, Sheep vs Goats. Matthew: 25:31-46. Spoiler alert. Goats—zero.

In these last minutes, I want to shine a spotlight on those six powerful, and yes, transforming words . . . “These brothers and sisters of Mine,” and how they have challenged me, at times convicted me, and shaped me into a different guy than I was at the beginning of 2022. And they continue to do so. I’m praying they do the same for you.

Early in 2022, I was given a precious opportunity, a gift really, to come face to face with my reflection, and how I viewed others. As though passing a hallway mirror and seeing ‘too much a Pharisee’ glaring back at me. I had to re-examine what measurements I used to deem anyone worthy of love and respect. And more specifically, God’s love through me.

The Imago Dei series revealed again and again—everyone is created in God’s image, bearing His thumbprint. Listen to His words and let them fill every room and hallway in your heart: “These brothers and sisters of Mine.”

Jesus doesn’t lay down one, single proviso, stipulation, or contingency before calling us to be His hands and feet. Please hear this. Not one. He simply calls us to go. And when we go, it should be like giving living bread to the hungry, quenching a parched soul, giving a stranger shelter, filling the needs of those without, caring for the sick, and yes, visiting those in chains.

Every single time you reach out in love to anyone, look closely. You’re seeing His reflection.

And when you see your reflection in the hallway mirror, it won’t be a Pharisee photobomb. It’ll reflect the One we’re truly fashioned after!

Let 2023 be the year we look beyond the surface. Beyond barriers. Beyond colors. Let’s be those guys and ladies who are Outrageous in our Giving! Because these are brothers and sisters of ours.