Jesus The Judge

James Krieg | Nov 19th, 2013

What does it mean for Jesus to be our judge?

Mark 8:27-38 is an important passage for answering this question.

Twice in this passage Jesus refers to himself as ‘The Son of Man’. This term comes from the Old Testament, from a prophecy by the 4th century BC prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:9-14).

In a vision Daniel saw God on his throne like a judge in a courtroom. Before him were all the nations and peoples of the world.

Then a person he described as ‘One like a Son of Man’ came into the presence of God, was given authority over all the earth, and all people worshipped him.

This ‘Son of Man’ is essentially God’s representative; h. He rules and judges with God’s full authority.

It Matters Who We Say He Is

By using the title ‘Son of Man’ for himself, Jesus is claiming to be the one whom Daniel saw in his vision. And in doing so, he underlines how much it matters who we say he is.

You see, at the start of this passage, Jesus asks his disciples who others were saying he was—and who they would say he was (verses 27-30).

People had all sorts of ideas. But Peter said, ‘You are the Christ’. And he was right.

‘Christ’ is a title for God’s appointed King—the one who would set up God’s kingdom.

This King was promised to the Jewish people over 1000 years before Jesus arrived. They knew the Christ would rule not only their people but the whole world. And that he’d bring peace and justice to all, enabling true knowledge and worship of God.

The Judge-King

Jesus is both the ‘Son of Man’ and the ‘Christ’. He is the King and the Judge.

In our modern world judges and political leaders are kept separate.

We don’t stand before the Prime Minister when we are charged with a crime. Laws and policy are generally not made in the courtroom.

This is why we may struggle to grasp the concept of a King-Judge. Yet this is the model of biblical kings. King Solomon, famous for his wisdom, oversaw cases and gave judgements on disputes.

The responsibility of a King was to ensure God’s Law was upheld. Unlike kings of other nations who made laws, Israel’s King was to write by his own hand a copy of God’s Law—to remind him that he himself was subject to God.

Jesus Is King And Judge

Jesus is consistently presented as the King and the Judge in the New Testament.

For example, both Philippians 2:5-10 and Acts 17:24-31 present Jesus this way — and both do so on the basis of his death and resurrection.

In Philippians 2, Jesus is identified as the one to whom every creature will ultimately bow the knee. He is identified like this because of his humble obedience to death on a cross and his subsequent exaltation by God.

And in Acts 17, Paul explains that Jesus has been appointed as the one by whom every person will be judged. Again it is his death and resurrection that qualifies him for this.

So Don’t Be Ashamed of Him

Each of us will have to stand before Jesus and be assessed as to how we have responded to him.

This is what Jesus is talking about at the end of Mark 8 (verse 38):

“Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

The word ashamed here does not just mean ‘embarrassed’ in the way that we might use it.

It means being wrongly aligned. A bit like backing the losing football team. Or being loyal to the wrong side in a war.

Jesus warns that rejecting him and his words now, will result in him rejecting us when he comes to judge.

His Judgement Is Good News!

This may sound to you like a stern, harsh Jesus; not like the gentle Jesus of popular imagination.

Yet it is actually because of his mercy and compassion that He says this. He warns us of the reality of coming judgement, so that we may escape it.

His announcement of judgement is good news. Or, at least, it points the way to the good news.

For Jesus judges as the one who perfectly obeyed God’s Law himself—and ultimately submitted to the judgement we rightly deserve!

As a result, Jesus has provided the way to be rescued from the coming judgement through his own death and resurrection. And he offers life and forgiveness to all who will trust in him.

We must not be ashamed of our Judge-King. Instead, he calls us to trust in him.

If anyone can be trusted to judge rightly, it’s him!