“As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.'” (Acts 9:3-5)
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” the Lord asked, yet Jesus was long gone from the earth by then. Saul did not really physically persecute the Lord; instead, he thought he was serving the God of Israel by persecuting the followers of Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s “Me”, then, simply shows His union with His body.
Persecuting the body of Christ is persecuting the Lord. Hurting our brothers and sisters is hurting the Lord.
“and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25: 33-40)
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”. Who are these brothers of Mine?
“Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold, My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50).
The “Me” Jesus, then, is saying not just Himself but His body also.
When we feed our brothers and sisters, we are feeding Jesus. When we give our brothers and sisters a drink, we are giving Jesus a drink. When we show hospitality to our brothers and sisters, we are show hospitality to Jesus. When we care for our brothers and sisters, we are care for Jesus.
Loving the body of Christ is loving the Lord. Serving the body of Christ is serving the Lord.
*The passage of Matthew 12 by no means invalidate the overall expression of God’s love on loving the neighbor! We do the same to those who do not share the same faith with us. I am simply writing specifically regarding that passage. For more clarification see the update (May 15, 2015) of Denny Burk’s blog.