~ by Chris Blake ~

“’Rabbi, we know it is from God that you have come as a teacher . . .’” (Yochanan 3:2, JNT).1


“What’s going to be on the final exam, Teacher?”

Rabbi Yeshua looked deeply into His students’ eyes. Yochanan (John), Kefa (Peter), Ya’akov (James), Mattityahu (Matthew), and the rest of his talmidim (disciples) waited for wisdom from the greatest teacher who ever taught.

Earlier, Nakdimon (Nicodemus) had enrolled in Yeshua’s extension night class to inquire about births, the beginning of life. Now, the question revolved around endings.

“The final exam,” He replied, “will be about what you have done for others, particularly those on the tenuous margins of life—the ‘least’ of people.”

“Will there be any questions on synagogue attendance?”


“Any questions about praying before meals or praise singing?”


The students sat in silence. Longing to help them, the Rabbi continued.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.”2

“On what basis does he separate them?”

Yeshua paused. He understood their longings and leanings. They had to first unlearn much before they could receive His teaching.

He said, “On the basis of their involvement with hunger, drinkable water, homelessness, poverty, healthcare, and prison ministry.”3

“Really? We thought those ‘outreaches’ were peripheral issues . . .”

“They are central to holiness,” He proclaimed. “These are the primary, practical by-products of righteousness by love.

“Oh,” He raised a finger, “and one more thing about this final.”

“What is it?”

He smiled. “Though you won’t realize it, you’re taking it the rest of your life.”


Chris Blake is associate professor of English and communication at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. 


1 Jewish New Testament, translated by David H. Stern

2 Mattityahu (Matthew) 25:31,32

3 See Matthew 25:33-46