THE OUTCOME FOR THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS
MANY WILL ENJOY PARADISE ON EARTH
JESUS PROVES TO BE THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE
Soon after Jesus’ baptism, he faced an enemy who was determined to cause him to fail even before he began his ministry. Yes, the Devil tried repeatedly to tempt Jesus. Later, Jesus said about that evil one: “The ruler of the world is coming, and he has no hold on me.”
The apostle John foresaw in vision what lay ahead for ‘the great dragon, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.’ That vicious enemy of mankind would be cast out of heaven, “having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:9, 12) Christians have good reason to believe that they are living during that “short period of time” and that soon “the dragon, the original serpent,” will be abyssed and inactive for 1,000 years while Jesus rules in God’s Kingdom.
During that period, what will occur on earth, our home? Who will live here, and under what conditions? Jesus himself pointed to the answers. In his illustration of the sheep and the goats, he showed what future awaits righteous humans who are like sheep, who cooperate with and do good toward Jesus’ brothers. He also made clear what lies ahead for those who do the opposite, those who are like goats. Jesus said: “These [the goats] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones [the sheep] into everlasting life.”
This helps us to understand Jesus’ words to the criminal who was on the stake beside him. Jesus did not hold out to that man the reward that was promised to his faithful apostles, that of being part of the Kingdom of the heavens. Rather, Jesus promised the repentant evildoer: “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Thus that man gained the prospect of living in Paradise
This harmonizes with the description that the apostle John gave of conditions that will then prevail on earth. He said: “The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
In order for that criminal to enjoy life in Paradise, he will have to be raised from the dead. And he will not be alone in experiencing a resurrection. Jesus made that clear when he said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
But what of the faithful apostles and the limited number of others who will be with Jesus in heaven? The Bible says: “They will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years.” (Revelation 20:6) These who become corulers with Christ will have been men and women on earth. So they will certainly be compassionate and understanding heavenly rulers over those on earth.
Jesus will apply his ransom sacrifice to humans on earth and lift from them the curse of inherited sin. He and his corulers will raise faithful mankind to perfection. Yes, humans will then enjoy the life that God originally purposed for them when he told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. Even death that resulted from Adam’s sin will be no more!
Thus, Jesus will have accomplished all that Jehovah asked of him. At the end of his Thousand Year Rule, Jesus will hand over the Kingdom and the perfected human family to his Father. Regarding this marvelous act of humility on Jesus’ part, the apostle Paul wrote: “When all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.”
Clearly, Jesus plays a vital role in accomplishing God’s glorious purposes. And as those purposes continue to unfold throughout eternity, he will live up completely to the description he gave of himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”