The Gospel begins with apocalyptic (endtime) images that convey Christ's kingship. The image of the Son of Man coming in glory reflects imagery from Daniel 7:13-14 and recalls other places in Matthew's Gospel where Jesus foretells the coming judgment (24:30-31; 26:64). The portrait of Christ as King is a fearsome one in this text. All the nations of the world have gathered before him and behold his majesty. From the throne, the king uses his authority to separate the people. To illustrate the separation of one individual from another, Jesus likens himself to a shepherd who separates his flock of sheep from the goats who are grazing in the same pasture. The sheep receive the place of honor and inherit God's kingdom (25:34). Jesus calls the sheep those who are "Blessed by my Father" (25:34). Who are the blessed ones? In Christ's kingdom, the blessed ones are those who do not retaliate with violence, but bear witness to a new reign of God by serving others (25:31-46). The blessed ones have demonstrated their faithfulness by performing acts of loving-kindness. The charge to care for the poor and the disadvantaged can be found throughout Scripture, but it is especially exhibited in the ministry of Jesus. In this Gospel, Christ has announced the arrival of God's kingdom while he cures the sick, welcomes the despised, and provides food for the hungry. He orders his disciples to carry on his ministry by doing likewise. Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus' teaching has announced and illustrated the kingdom of God. God's kingdom does not function like a typical kingdom. This divine reign has invaded the world and is good news--especially to those on the fringes of society. This rule welcomes those who have no status and seeks to serve others rather than exploit them. Those who have experienced God's kingdom cannot go back to life as it once was. The difference between followers of Jesus and those who do not know Jesus is that those who have seen Jesus no longer have any excuse to avoid the "least of these." The blessed ones are those who have seen a King who is not like the kings of this world. They are blessed because they know a King who brings real peace, who sees the needy, and who hears the cries of the oppressed. In God's kingdom, no one is hungry, naked, sick, or alone. To bear witness to Christ as King is to be a messenger of this kingdom--to serve others and thereby profess the invasion of God's glorious empire.