I’ve been in court a few times during my adult life. Mostly I’ve been a spectator. On one occasion a witness and another a potential juror. Each time the judge enters there is a feeling of almost dread. He or she is announced and we are all asked to rise. They are usually attired in a robe of authority. A sense of nervousness comes upon me and some degree of pessimism as I think of the impending judgment upon the accused.
Judge, judgment, judgment day. They all have an element of fear attached. And so it is with the Christian faith. It may be due to the experience many have had of the judgment by Christians themselves. A lot of people feel that Christ is judging them. Maybe the church has contributed to this also.
Some of us are just very self-conscious about the wrongs we have thought and done in our lives and think that maybe Jesus just isn’t all that happy with us.
And perhaps we do well to have some experience of fright at the thought of Jesus, our judge.
Bonhoeffer once wrote that without that fright we do not experience the marvelous favor and grace when we discover that we are actually loved dearly by this judge. (THE COMING OF JESUS IN OUR MIDST)
It’s only when we realize just how lost we have been that we know the joy of being found. It’s only when a dreaded diagnosis comes do we realize the joy of recovery.
Jesus once said that he had come for the sick, the lost, the lame, and the blind. So that when we enter his court knowing our condition we can rejoice in our hearts when his presence comes into our lives. What this Judge brings is Good News.
“For judgment I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (Those who make the pretense of seeing) John 9.
If we think we have it all together and can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and need no help or relationship with God then we will go off by ourselves. Otherwise the judge has nothing but love and forgiveness and an eternal relationship to give us.
See, Christ makes his greatest judgment from Calvary. His judgment seat is the cross and his verdict is guilt for death and sin that both may be defeated. He has exhausted the worst they could do to the best.
But to those who long for his appearance his verdict is INNOCENT AND FREE.
Sometimes we are like the children who hear these dreaded words ‘Wait ‘til your Father gets home’ only to discover that when dad arrives his arms are open, his love is unconditional and any guilt is borne by his own humility and grace.
And now it is given to us to go into the world with Jesus looking for the lost and blind and self-conscious to tell them and remind ourselves of the GOOD NEWS. And with the lowly shepherds we can go to the manger to see this wonderful thing that God has done and then leave there to give praise to our God.
‘God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world.’
By the way: I have a friend who is a wonderfully kind and compassionate judge as I am sure many are.