Jesus’ Life and Ministry
When Christ Arrives in Kingdom Power
JESUS is still with his apostles on the Mount of Olives. In answer to their request for a sign of his presence and the conclusion of the system of things, he now tells them the last in a series of three illustrations. “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him,” Jesus begins, “then he will sit down on his glorious throne.”
Humans cannot see angels in their heavenly glory. So the arrival of the Son of man, Jesus Christ, with the angels must be invisible to human eyes. The arrival occurs in the year 1914. But for what purpose? Jesus explains: “And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”
Describing what will happen to those separated to the favored side, Jesus says: “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.’” The sheep will not rule with Christ in heaven but will inherit the Kingdom in the sense of being its earthly subjects. “The founding of the world” took place when Adam and Eve first produced children who could benefit from God’s provision to redeem mankind.
But why are the sheep separated to the King’s favored right hand? “For I became hungry,” the king replies, “and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.”
Since the sheep are on earth, they want to know how they could have done such fine deeds for their heavenly King. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,” they ask, “or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?”
“Truly I say to you,” the King replies, “to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Christ’s brothers are the remaining ones on earth of the 144,000 who will rule with him in heaven. And doing good to them, Jesus says, is the same as doing good to him.
Next, the King addresses the goats. “Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.”
The goats, however, complain: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?” The goats are judged adversely on the same basis that the sheep are judged favorably. “To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones [of my brothers],” Jesus answers, “you did not do it to me.”
So Christ’s presence in Kingdom power, just prior to the end of this wicked system of things in the great tribulation, will be a time of judgment. The goats “will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones [the sheep] into everlasting life.” Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 14:1-3.
◆ Why must Christ’s presence be invisible, and what work does he do at that time?
◆ In what sense do the sheep inherit the Kingdom?
◆ When did “the founding of the world” take place, and why then?
◆ On what basis are people judged either as sheep or as goats?