“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt. 25:46)

The late Paul Harvey captured the attention of his radio audience by telling them “The Rest of the Story.” That feature on his radio program focused on a well-known person and featured a little-known aspect of his or her life, which came as surprise to his listeners. By saving the surprise to the end, Harvey helped listeners see the person from a different perspective.

Likewise, when we look at Jesus, we need to step back far enough to see His total message. Otherwise, we may misunderstand His tougher words, including His statement of judgment in Matthew 25:46. At face value, Jesus’ statement sounds shocking; but taken in context, we get the entire picture of His plan for our lives.

The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to die for us. It also tells us that God’s plan from the very beginning was to be close to people, but that sin separated us from God and made necessary Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus ordered His followers to share the message of His salvation with everyone in the world, to give every human being the opportunity to have a relationship with God through Him. No faithful follower need ever fear that Jesus will tell him or her to depart. Only those who have not accepted Christ and put His words into practice will face this order. Make it your priority as a Christian to tell the whole story of Jesus to everyone who will listen.

Look for the big picture of God’s plan in your Bible study.

Paul Zinter serves as a substitute teacher. He enjoys writing, bread making, and teaching at his local church.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.