I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.
Imagine if Jesus Christ were thrown in jail. What would you do? Surely you’d go and visit Him. But what if He said that what you do to the least of these, it is the very same thing as if you did it for Me (Matthew 26:40)? When Jesus said doing this to the “least of these My brethren,” was He only talking about those in the church? Aren’t only those who are saved in the family of God called His brethren? It takes a lot of courage to visit someone in prison because the moment you go inside the prison walls and you hear those iron bars shut behind you, there’s a bit of trepidation. Why would Jesus say that visiting someone in prison is the same thing as visiting Him, as if He were the one in prison?
Why in Prison?
I heard of a pastor in Canada who preached part of a message on some of the things that society accepts but are classified as sins in the Bible. He ended up going to prison because his message was classified as “hate speech.” This person would be one who would be easier to visit in prison, or certainly there would be greater motivation to visit Jesus in prison if He were incarcerated. But what about those who are currently in prison and are not members of a church? Many churches have connected with state prisons to provide Bible-study materials for the prisons, and a few even provide money for prisoners when they are released. In reality, there appears to be little reformation that takes place in prisons, but the work of God the Holy Spirit is real God-power that can effectually change the person from within. If you change a person’s heart on the inside, you’ll change his or her behavior on the outside; and that is what many prison ministries are experiencing. More and more prisoners who go through these biblical studies land back in prison after they are released.
For Prisoner’s or for Jesus?
What is our motivation for visiting prisoners? Do we see it as being the same as doing it for Jesus? Other churches have a correspondence program where some of the men in the church write male prisoners and the women write women prisoners because frequently when men and women are behind bars, they lose their social support system. They are often forsaken by their family and friends and have no visible means of support. This means that many have no visits. They have no one to help them even buy stamps to write family or friends. But the good news is that some prison ministries that have connected with local churches provide the financial means for prisoners to keep in touch with those on the outside. They read Matthew 25:36 and understand that it is meant for them to do to others and that they are really doing it for Christ.
A Closing Prayer
Oh Father in heaven, we know You are near the brokenhearted and are close to those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Please help me catch this vision of Christ being the One Who is visited in prison when I visit or write others. I ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ.
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