Jesus, the Righteous Judge

by Doy Moyer

Jesus is the Creator to whom all are accountable. He has all authority, and He has all the right to judge. The Father “has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (John 5:22-23). He has “authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27). This is another call back to Daniel 7:13-14 where the Son of Man figure is given all dominion and glory and a kingdom “that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.” If He is the King with all authority, then judgment belongs to Him.

The Lord is not a capricious or vindictive Judge. He does not act out of spite, envy, or malice. He is a righteous Judge who stands for justice and will always do what is right. As the psalmist said long ago about God’s reign, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalms 89:14). Our faith, then, trusts that He always judges righteously and justly with all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Abraham asked (Genesis 18:25). Indeed, He will.

Jesus came into this world as a light shining in the darkness (John 1:5). The intent of His incarnation was not to condemn but to bring light and provide the path back to God. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:17-19).

Condemnation comes because people reject the Light (Jesus) and choose to stay in the darkness. Nevertheless, a time is coming in which all will hear and see Jesus, the righteous Judge. Back in John 5, note how Jesus continued: “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:27-29). The voice of Jesus will ring out so that all will hear. Then, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Every ear will hear, every eye will see, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus (cf. Revelation 1:7). This is why it is paramount that we recognize Jesus for who He is now, for “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Salvation is offered to all and judgment is promised for all. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (II Corinthians 5:10). The judgment seat of Christ is guaranteed because Jesus was raised from the dead (Acts 17:31).

What is the standard for judgment? Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:47-48). The words of Jesus will be there at judgment, and we will be accountable to what He has taught (cf. Hebrews 4:12-13).

Jesus is the righteous Judge who does not want to condemn. While it may sound frightening to stand before His judgment seat, the beauty of the gospel is that we do not need to be so frightened because “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If we stand forgiven of our sins, then we stand justified, not because we are great but because of His grace and actions on our behalf. Though all have sinned, all can be “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). Judgment for God’s people means eternal salvation, not condemnation.

We must, then, step into the light of Jesus Christ or face the reality of what staying in the darkness means (cf. II Corinthians 4:3-6). He will make no mistakes in judgment and knows the hearts of all. No one will be able to challenge Him, and we will only desire mercy. God be thanked that He provides it!

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