“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV)
40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (King James)
I have never actually read the king James’s bible, mainly due to my dyslexia making reading old English difficult and also because I don’t have too and you can’t make me. Goggling these words of Jesus, however I came across the King James’s version, which to my mind is far more profound than the NIV version.
So what Jesus is saying hear; well to my mind it’s very straight forward, whatever you do to the least in society you are doing TO Jesus or in the name of Jesus. I repeat again, whatever we do to the least in our society we are inflict upon Jesus and do in the name of Jesus; when we exclude them we are excluding Jesus and in his name.
Now I am sure my more learned readers are screaming that it does not mean literally “inflicting” the same treatment upon Christ and that this is a metaphor at best and not what the passage means at worse. Well I am not theologian and I’ve not read it in Greek or Aramaic but I think the idea that the often hateful actions we often accidently inflict upon the least in our society we do unto Jesus is one so compelling and frightening and overwhelming that it is worthy of exploration.
So the first issue who is the least; “Cricky” there are much more complex than those defined in the sermon on the mount and ranges from the poor to those who are the least because they are unacceptable to are society or are moral code (I am thinking of paedophiles and drug addicts). When I hear the word least I first think of economically least aka poor.
I then recall a saying a vicar once taught me: “It is those who are least “deserving of mercy” who most require it and are thus most deserving of it”; I know this saying is a paradox but to me it solidifies the concept of least. The least are often those who is it acceptable to represses and relegate to the dark corners of our society; the least are then often people who have done something to, in some way, deserve there lowly position.