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Consuming passion

“These [the goats] will go away into eternal consequences, but the righteous [the sheep] into eternal life.” When Jesus had ended all these statements, he said to his disciples, “You see that after two days the Passover sacrifice is here, and the Son of Man is to be given away to death by crucifixion. At that very time the first priests and the elders of the people gathered together in the courtyard of the first priest, the stated Caiaphas, and took advice from one another so that Jesus, by devious methods, could be overpowered and killed. But they stated, “Not during the feast, so that there won’t be a riot among the people.” Matthew 25: 46 - 26: 5
 
 In the final days before Jesus was given away to death by crucifixion in AD 30 he taught his followers that eventually all human beings will be found to be in one of only two groups – sheep or goats. 

What’s the difference between a sheep and a goat? Both are, by any standard, week and foolish. But maybe there IS one significant difference – sheep eat grass; goats eat grass and the roots as well. Sheep graze. Goats consume all.

Last year’s best seller by Yanis Varoufakis came out in paperback a few weeks ago. He’s an economist. In 2015, he was the Finance Minister of Greece when it received a Second Bailout from the European Union. He tells the inside story of how EU and world leaders forced Greece to borrow yet more, despite knowing that this would only result in a bigger black hole for them to fill. Why? It was so that EU banks would not have to reveal that they were in serious difficulties. 

Today, Greece with its 11 million people has yet more unrepayable debts. The Eurozone still has unresolved financial and political problems. Which were sheep? Which were goats?
 
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‘Those who know themselves best will fear themselves most.’ (Donald Cargill, Scottish Covenanter, 1619-1681) 
In a way Greece, as a country, could be said to be goats – they had avoided their own taxes and overpaid themselves. They consumed, then borrowed, then consumed even more. But in another way the EU could be said to be goats because their negotiating strength brought survival for them - only by impoverishing others.

Where do you and I fit in as individuals? For me, at times I’ve been a sheep. At other times, regrettably, I’ve been a goat and caused desolation and hurt to others. Is it possible that we’re all like that? Generous outwardly but goats inside because of our driving self-interest? Am I blind to my own addiction to self-interest until pressure arises when I become a goat who can’t endure any loss to me?

Back in AD 30, Jesus’ final teaching to his followers about sheep and goats was that the goats would “go away” from him “into eternal consequences” but the sheep would come with him “into eternal life.”

But that didn’t end his conversation. He had one more thing to say to them. He said: “You know that after two days the passover sacrifice will be here, and the Son of Man is to be given away to death by crucifixion.” His schedule was to be a total loser, to be given away to death.

What about this passover sacrifice? It first took place in Egypt around 1350 BC. The Egyptians had enslaved Jewish people there to do all their hard work. The LORD God warned the Pharaoh about his repeated refusal to free these slaves. If it continued, all the first born in Egypt would be killed that very night. But the Jewish homes would be protected if they prepared a lamb and used its blood to identify their homes as places not to suffer death. They were to eat roast lamb that evening in preparation for being freed. 

A passover sacrifice – a lamb died to save them. Jesus said in AD 30 that in two days the feast of the passover sacrifice would take place there. He, the Son of Man, would be “given away to death by crucifixion”. 

 
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‘He who lives to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies.’ (Tertullian, early Christian writer, AD 155-240) 
At the very time that Jesus spoke those words in Jerusalem the first priests and the elders of the people were assembled in the courtyard of the chief first priest, named Caiaphas. They decided to overpower Jesus deviously, to have him killed. 

The self-interested first priests and the revered elders did have their way. The goats did succeed. Why then did Jesus allow the goats to win? Did he do it to set free the goats from their self-interest?
 
Sinner Syvret

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