“The righteous will answer,” Jesus said, “when did we do [that] to you?” (Matthew 25:37-39).
Jesus explains something significant here about the character of the righteous.
He tells them: you took care of me when I was sick. You fed me, and you clothed me.
They, of course, were confused by this. When did we do this to you? was the response.
Whenever you “did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
The reason the righteous missed this, was because of their character.
The righteous are not the saints we’ve put on pedestals. They are anyone who desires God’s spirit to live in them and make them more like him. They are, in a word, us.
What makes this episode especially interesting is the object: ‘the least of these.’
It’s easy to fool others (and ourselves), by helping the valuable ones. The king, the prince, and all the rest.
But here Jesus shows us the essence of the righteous. They, he says, cater to the ‘least.’