Unlike the first two that indicate explicitly that they are parables, this one only strongly implies it. I don’t really have any doubt as to whether this is presented as a parable, it is just something like pointing out that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, the Pinocchio was swallowed by a whale.
Here’s the story. Jesus returns in all his glory and separates everyone into two groups. The good group gets eternal life. They ask, “Who us? What did we do to deserve such an honor?” Jesus says they helped him when he needed it. They don’t remember ever helping Jesus and he renders another famous line, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” [That is based on another standard from JimII’s VBS background, but I can’t seem to find it on YouTube.]
That’s the sweetness and light bit, then Jesus turns to those on his left:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They similarly claim never having ignored Jesus, but he points out “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
No the requirement is crystal clear, even down to a list. And the punishment is equally clear. If you don’t help the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, you will go to hell. And in case you missed it, it is the one prepared for the devil–that hell.
It’s been my experience that selfish people suffer. Those who hate the poor, the stranger–they suffer. They live sad lives. And like I said before, wasting your one and only life in the misery brought on by selfish, compassionless words and deeds, that’s pretty much hell.