What does the Bible teach us about Jesus as judge? He is described as a judge in many places and tells us who has given Him the authority to act as judge on the human race:
“The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son.” (John 5:22) It was a gift and an honor from His Heavenly Father to show His deity and equality with Him.
Jesus’ character shows us He is the perfect judge. He has unlimited knowledge, and His decisions are flawless, dispensing justice and mercy fairly.
He also knows exactly what it feels like to be human and the troubles we face, giving Him another advantage in exercising His divine judgments.
God planned from the beginning to pass on His judicial authority to Jesus. Speaking of the coming of the Messiah, God proclaimed:
“In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it- one from the house of David-one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.” Isaiah 16:5.
Jesus judges in perfect tandem with the Father’s will and sense of justice.
Jesus on Judgment
The Gospel of John contains many instances of Jesus speaking on this topic.
Jesus did not come down from heaven to judge the world-
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17. NASB.
Jesus speaking to the Pharisees: “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.” John 8:15.
Making His way into Jerusalem for the final time, Jesus summarizes His message for the people. (John 12:44-50)
Jesus cries out:
“I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.” vv47-48.
His time to act and judge had not yet come.
Jesus came the first time to deal once and for all with our sin problem- to show us the way to find salvation and eternal life. He brought His Light into the world to dispel darkness.
Jesus Will Judge
He will judge, however, at His second coming.
Jesus explains, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” John 9:39.
He is not contradicting Himself, but giving a warning for those who refused to believe in Him- judgment will surely come.
Our eyes are opened when we recognize our need for a Savior, Jesus’ authority, and accept His Light. We receive the gift of spiritual knowledge and insight. He promises us eternal life with Him.
Rejecting Him closes our eyes to His truth, and we become more spiritually blind, descending further into darkness.
It is our sin that condemns us if we refuse to turn to Jesus for forgiveness. Instead of eternal life, we experience eternal punishment.
Standing Before God
“You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat… So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10,12.
On the day of judgment, we will stand before Jesus. Are you fearful of the process? Of standing before your King?
The prophet Isaiah tells of being whisked away into the very throne room of God. He hears the praise of angelic beings, smells the smoke that filled the area, and felt the foundation shake.
He saw the Lord on His majestic throne, the train of His robe filling the temple. (Isaiah 6:1-5)
Isaiah, realizing he was unclean before his holy God, felt the weight of his sinfulness. It had to be terrifying. Is this how we will feel as we stand to be judged?
Will we fall to our knees with our face to the floor? Or will we run sobbing into the arms of Jesus, relieved to finally be home??
How Many Judgments Are There in the Bible?
The answer to that question is- “probably more than you think.”
The Old Testament is full of judgments that have already happened. For instance, God judged Adam and Eve and banished them from the Garden of Eden for disobeying His commands.
God judged the whole world when He sent a flood in Noah’s time as judgment against worldwide sin.
God sent the ten plagues to judge Egypt and Pharoah.
You get the idea…
Let’s move on to some judgments to come.
This coming judgment happens on earth for the Gentile nations (after the second coming of Jesus). It involves separating His obedient followers from pretenders and unbelievers.
The last judgment is the Great White Throne Judgment. It takes place in heaven, as John explains in Revelation 20:11-15.
It is strictly for unbelievers who refused and rejected Jesus in their lifetime.
“If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” v15
The Lake of Fire is the final destination of everything wicked- Satan, the beast, the false prophet, and everyone who does not place their trust in Jesus. It is the final judgment before God creates the new earth.
Will Believers Be Judged?
Yes- future judgment for raptured believers happens before the Judgment Seat of Christ, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:10:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees in the Gospel of Matthew:
“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Matthew 12:36.
What we say reveals what is in our human heart.
1 Samuel 16:7- “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We know that our salvation is already secure by our faith in His sacrifice-
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28.
Once we put our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, our names are inked in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
We are His. God assures us citizenship in the kingdom of heaven because of what Jesus, the Lamb of God, has done.
But He will hold us accountable for what we have done and our motives in doing them. Believers live a transformed life and should produce good works.
It is, however, possible to be saved and waste our lives in service only to ourselves.
We can knock ourselves out believing we are serving Him, when in reality, we only do things for what we gain here on earth (recognition, honor, praise…)
Wood, Hay, and Stubble
The apostle Paul explains the concept in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. He uses the example of building the church with Jesus as our foundation:
“If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble [straw], his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
Notice there is no punishment here. The fire simply reveals the quality of our life’s work.
If they burn to ashes; it’s as if we never did them. Our reward will come from what has survived the fire. Paul has affirmed that the quality of our works will be tested to receive our reward.
Jesus also speaks of rewards in Matthew 16:27-
“For the Son of Man is going to come in his father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”
Whatever those rewards are, they will certainly glorify God and bring us perfect peace and joy.
Every Man Will Be Judged According to His Works
No amount of works saves us- only believing in Jesus can do that. So why must we stand in judgment before Jesus?
James helps us understand-
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” James 2:26.
After our soul leaves our body, our earthly bodies are dead. There is no life left in them.
Likewise, a faith with no life; a “dead” faith- is one without works.
A living faith and the works that come from it are the evidence of our new life in Christ.
Paul says, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.
We are His creation, made new in Jesus. Our works witness to the reality of our faith.
God has already planned them for us to do, and He helps makes them possible!
What Questions will God Ask on Judgement Day?
Of course, we have nothing specifically written to guide us in studying for this “test.” Some may say since we don’t know the answer to this question, why bother trying to speculate?
Should we just “do our best” and hope for the best outcome? I think it bears thinking about! If He is going to ask me questions, I would like to have a well thought out answer, as I expect to be overwhelmed with His grace and love in the moment. 😊
I have heard various takes on this topic, the most common questions being, “What did you do with the time and gifts I have given you?” and “who did you bring with you?”
Our motives have just as much weight as what we have done. Were our works motivated by the love we have for Jesus?
Was I too distracted most of the time by what was happening in my life to care about others? Too “busy” to serve Him and His people?
Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents to show us He expects us to use the gifts and talents He has given us wisely until He returns, or we are called home.
It’s not about how much we have, but how well we use what we have been given.
Jesus, the Righteous Judge
Simon Peter came face to face with the Messiah and was immediately overcome. Falling to his knees he cries:
“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
He had seen the divine power in the catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11) and felt completely unworthy in His presence. Is this how we will feel on the day we meet Him face to face?
1 John 4:17 gives us great encouragement:
“Love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.“
Our knowledge of His love is incomplete now, but when we stand before Him, He will make it crystal clear. Confidence will replace any fear on that day.
Living for Jesus
How should we live until then?
We can read and study God’s Word; walk obediently in the Holy Spirit, serve others in their time of need. Share the Good News with as many as possible in as many ways as possible. Jesus wants all to come to Him!
We can pray for unbelievers- that God would open their eyes to see the beauty and love of Jesus. His mission was to save the lost; praying for them is in line with His desire for them. Pray that they would trust in His rightful place in their lives.
Jesus’ judgment on us is not punishment, but a reminder that He has forgiven us. He will show us the genuine status of our heart, wipe away our tears, and we will delight in the pardon we have accepted.
May we be faithful to Him here on earth so that as we meet Him, He proclaims, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
Photo Credit: Canva