Let us pray: Dear Savior, it’s easy to make like an ostrich and hide our heads in the sands of denial. It’s easy to ignore Your calls for repentance by trying to pick the splinter out of our neighbor’s eye in order to avoid the log in our own eye. Yes, it’s easy for us humans to put off thinking about that day of reckoning, that day of total honesty—judgement day. Lord, today we need You to show us the folly of adopting such attitudes. We need You to awaken our consciences. And we need You to hold us in love when we’ve come to mourn our own stupidity. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, YOUR ETERNAL JUDGE….
TEXT: John 5: 19-24
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I haven’t been summoned to jury duty for a few years. (Now watch, I’ll get one of those notices in the mail within the month!) Anyway, so far when I’ve had to go, I’ve been rejected by the lawyers. I think it’s because I’m a Pastor. The prosecution probably thinks I’m going to go all touchy-feely on them, so they reject me. Or, the defense thinks I’m going to be rigid and judgemental, so they reject me, too. To be honest, I think the lawyers like to have pliable people on juries that they can mold to their own views. Since I’ve got pretty strong views on almost all subjects already, I doubt either side would like me to start throwing my weight around in the jury room.
Personally, I think it would be quite interesting to be a judge. The few times I’ve sat in a courtroom I always find myself watching the judge and wondering. What are they thinking? What’s their opinion? What would they do if they had absolute power? What would I do in their shoes?
Well, I’ll never have the opportunity to find out. I’m not a lawyer. Instead, I’m a cross between a bailiff and a clerk for Christ, the ultimate Judge. And my job today is to remind all of you:
HERE COMES THE JUDGE!
Today we’re winding down the church year. We have but three Sundays left before a new church calendar begins with Advent. And on this wrap-up Sunday our focus is on Judgement Day.
Now, most of you know about Judgement Day. And as it comes closer we have mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, as sinners we fear that day. We fear having to bear our souls, literally, before God Almighty. We fear having our secret sins revealed. We fear that somehow we won’t be good enough to enter glory. On the other hand, as believers we look forward to that awesome day. For we know that Christ has washed away all our sins with His blood. We know that He has erased our mistakes and failures in life and put on us His perfect holiness. We know that because of His holy life and innocent death, we’re going to be found: not guilty! And then glory truly will be ours. Nonetheless, since none of us have been through it, the uncertainty of judgement day is a bit unsettling, isn’t it? Well, I’m here today to tell you that as long as you remain in Christ, you really do have nothing to fear!
Who do you know more about: Jesus or His Heavenly Father? Well, that’s easy, isn’t it? We know much more about Jesus. We know that He became our Brother. We know that He was tempted in every way just as we, yet He never gave into sin. We know that He truly has felt our pain—both on and off the cross. We know that He has died our death and laid in our graves. And we also know that He came back from death to life—for each and every single one of us.
In our lesson, Jesus has just done some wonderful miracles, including healing a blind, lame, paralyzed man. Obviously the healed man and the crowd who witnessed this miracle were astounded, overjoyed, and filled with happiness. But, some of the naysayers, the Pharisees, enemies of His work belittle this miracle of love. They especially go ballistic when Jesus identifies Himself with His heavenly Father by saying: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.—For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him, because he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
To counteract such unbelief, Jesus then says: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” Well, that’s quite an answer, isn’t it? But, what does it mean to us, today, on November 9th, 2003?
If you would walk into a courtroom, accused of some horrendous crime of which you were guilty and discovered the judge to be the Father of your victim, how would you feel? Scared?—To say the least. But, what if you walked in, knowing you were guilty, but the judge was your brother? And what if that brother said: “I find myself guilty of your crime, and I’ll take your punishment so that you can go free?”
Well, my friends, that’s what’s going to take place on judgement day for all who plead the mercy of Christ through faith. Christ isn’t a hanging judge. He’s a forgiving judge. A judge who judges himself guilty instead of us. We know that because Jesus now says: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
The day will come when all of us will hear an angel announce in solemn tones: “Here comes the Judge!” The outcome of that momentous event will be either joy or sorrow, either freedom or chains. Embrace your Judge today through faith and you’ll never have to fear the verdict! Amen