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A Tale of Two Judgments

One of the key beliefs of Christians is that of a coming day of judgment.  According to the Scriptures, the day of judgment will be an event in which each individual will stand before God to be recompensed for his deeds.  This event will occur at the end of time following the resurrection of the dead and the destruction of the world.  At that time, God will judge all people through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Those who are judged to be faithful and obedient in Christ will be granted eternal life by the grace and mercy of God, but those who are disobedient and unrighteous will receive wrath and eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.  (For a study of the day of judgment, see Matt. 12:36; 25:31-46; John 12:47-48; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:5-10; 2Cor. 5:10; 2Thess. 1:5-10; 2Tim. 4:6-8; Heb. 9:26-27; 2Pet. 2:9; 3:7-15; Jude 6; Rev. 20:11-15.)

Indeed, there will a future event in which God will judge man, but do you realize that there has already been an event in which man has judged God?  This event was the succession of the various trials of Jesus Christ before men, and the result of those trials was the most shameful, unjust, unmerciful, unrighteous judgment in the history of the world.  The contrast between the truth about Jesus and the errant judgment of men is well stated in Isaiah 53:4-9 (that which pertains to manís judgment of Christ is underlined):

"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.  By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?  His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.Ē

When we consider these two judgments, Godís judgment of man and manís judgment of God, it makes for quite a contrast.  One is the expression of love, grace, mercy, justice, and righteousness.  The other is the expression hatred, jealousy, cruelty, injustice, and unrighteousness.

We can contrast these judgments in terms of two judgment seats: the judgment seat of Christ, and the judgment seat of Pilate.  According to 2Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.Ē  Two abiding principles will govern the judgments that issue for from the judgment seat of Christ: mercy and justice.  For those who have been justified through faithful obedience in the gospel of Christ, there will be mercy.  They will not suffer the penalty of death for their sins, for their sins have been forgiven through the grace of Christís sacrifice on the cross.  However, for those who have rejected Godís offer of mercy and grace, they will receive justice for their sins.  "The wages of sin is deathĒ (Rom. 6:23), and they will be paid in full measure.

Regarding Christís judgment, John 19:13 states, "Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.Ē  At Pilateís judgment seat, mercy and justice were absent.  There was no mercy from the wild multitude of men who cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!Ē (John 19:15).  They wanted Christís blood to be shed, and they would be satisfied with nothing else.  Likewise, there was no justice, for Pilate repeatedly pronounced Jesus to be free of guilt (Luke 23:4, 14, 15, 22; John 18:38; 19:4, 6).  Jesus, an innocent man by Pilateís own judgment, was delivered to be crucified.

How great is our God!  He allowed His Son to suffer the greatest injustice of all time at the hands of unmerciful men in order to provide mercy to mankind.  Jesus suffered at the unjust, unmerciful judgment seat of Pilate so that we could receive mercy before His judgment seat.  Despite the injustice done to Christ, God does not relish the day of judgment as a time for His revenge, but rather He desires the salvation of all men (2Pet. 3:9-15).  Praise God for His indescribable mercy!

Stacey E. Durham



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