I’ve grown up accustomed to the idea that God is the great Judge, and Jesus is the mediator, making His plea on our behalf. I’ve heard many people refer to God as an angry old man…or as wrathful and judgmental…or as harder to relate to, worship, and love, because, after all, He’s going to judge us. Me… I haven’t struggled with that, because I’ve always seen God as a loving and merciful Judge–one who can’t help being 100% righteous and just, but also who made the way for me to avoid the condemnation I so richly deserved.
However, lately I’ve been noticing something interesting which challenges certain portions of this whole conception.
It started when I was reading John earlier this year, when I reached chapter five. Look at this:
For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.
That is John 5:22, and it challenges that whole idea that God the Father is going to judge us.
Then there’s verse 27:
He [the Father] gave Him [the Son] authority to execute judgment.
And John 9:38:
And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world.”
John isn’t the only one of Jesus’ disciples who said that Jesus claimed this. In Acts 10:42 Peter is preaching his first message to the Gentiles, and he says:
He [Jesus] ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.
Then Paul repeats it to Timothy:
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead…
When Jesus comes back again, Revelation 19 says it will look like this:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats…
Furthermore, Jesus said:
For judgment I came into this world.
So Jesus is the judge!
The answer is quite simple. Jesus is the Judge, but He has chosen not to exercise His authority against us! Read John 3:18-19:
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light.
This is why, when a voice came out of Heaven and spoke to Jesus in the presence of a crowd of people in John 12:38-41, Jesus said:
This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon this world.
There are many more verses that talk about the judgment. But as I went through and read them all, this is the overall picture I saw.
God the Father held the power of judgment, simply because He is God. But when man sinned, He didn’t like what He knew His judgment would have to be. He was the Judge all the way through the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, He did two things: He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin, and He delegated the task of judging to Jesus. But He gave Jesus a simple instruction. He was to judge based solely upon one condition. And Jesus makes it really easy for us by telling us what that condition is:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
In John 5:30, Jesus said:
I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
And what was the will of the Father in sending Jesus?
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
If you are one of those who has had an unhealthy fear of God, feeling that He will judge you for everything you’ve done wrong and for the sin that you can’t overcome, I’d like you to know something. Neither God nor Jesus will be arbitrarily and angrily passing judgment. The judging criteria has already been set, and Jesus is the one who will determine if you meet it. He will open His Book of Life to see if your name has been put there as being one who has believed in Him and who loves the Light, rather than the darkness. And if it is, then you are one who “has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. “
If this is something you’ve struggled with, listen to this song again, keeping all of this in mind.
I stand accused. There’s a list a mile long
Of all my sins–of everything that I’ve done wrong
I’m so ashamed.. There’s nowhere left for me to hide
This is the day–I must answer for my life
My fate is in the Judge’s hands
But then He turns to me and says:
I know you
I love you
I gave my life to save you
Love paid the price for mercy