Judge Jesus

Category: Articles Published: Thursday, 01 December 2016 Written by Super User

Judge Jesus

Here is the scene: You have spoken out against someone’s sin. Perhaps it was in conversation or discussion about this concern, or in an Internet comment section. Perhaps it was directly to the offender, in an attempt to turn that person from wrong to right. The immediate reaction to your statement is a chorus of objections the goes something like this:

Jesus said “Judge not!”
“You should be loving like Jesus, not judgmental.”
“Jesus never judged people.”
“Jesus only loved people, he never judged them.”
“Jesus loved and accepted people the way they were, he never judged them.”

Never mind the irony of people judging you for judging— is what they are saying about our Lord Jesus true at all? We are not at liberty to make up facts about Jesus so He will fit our narrative. Jesus is who He is, He did what He did, and He said what He said, all as recorded for us in God’s Word, the Bible.

First, we need to define what we mean by “judging.” There are three related aspects of judging:

1. Evaluation: What I think.  I look at something and make a decision about it. Is it right or wrong? Is it wise or foolish? Is it beautiful or ugly? Is it helpful or harmful? We make such judgments multiple times every day in the normal course of life in matters both small and great. For example, let’s say I see a man attempting to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. I decide (judge) that this person’s action is wrong, foolish, ugly, and harmful (to both himself and many others). I am judging in my mind.

2. Expression: What I say. I may choose to keep a judgment to myself, but there are times when I feel compelled to tell others what is in my mind. In the above example, I would speak to the troubled man and try to convince him to not jump. I would also rebuke any people that I saw laughing and telling him to go ahead and kill himself. I am judging with my words.

3. Execution: What I do. The judgment I make in my mind may move me to a certain course of action. I would call 911 for help, and if it seemed advisable I would approach the troubled man and attempt to gently lead him away from the edge of the bridge. I might even decide to physically restrain him as a last resort. I am judging by my actions.

Did our Lord Jesus judge people? Did he evaluate what other people thought and did? Did He express these judgments openly, and did He act accordingly? We shall see that the Lord Jesus was very (dare we say it?) judgmental.

Evaluation

The Lord Jesus judged the heart, beliefs, words, and actions of other people.

Proverbs 20:5 tells us that “The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Judging a person’s heart is certainly not to be done lightly, but Jesus did so regularly. For example, He told His disciples that they were men “of little faith” (Matthew 16:8, etc.). The disciples did not debate this judgment, nor object “Who are you to judge?”

In our age of so-called “tolerance,” it is considered wrong to consider someone else wrong (oh, the irony!) This is especially true with respect to matters of faith and religion. In contrast to this, the bulk of Jesus’ teaching involved inviting people to the truth by showing them where they were wrong. The Sadducees denied the biblical teaching on the afterlife, and Jesus told them flat out, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:28). To a Samaritan woman, who held to religious positions at variance with the Jews, He said “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 5:22). In the original Greek, the “you” is plural, referring therefore to “all you Samaritans.” He judged their entire religion with ignorance of the true God.

The Lord Jesus made judgment regarding the salvation of other people. For instance, He concluded that many of the religious leaders would not enter God’s kingdom: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Long before Judas betrayed Jesus, He characterized him as “a devil” (John 6:70).

In none of these or any other examples do we see Jesus make the nonsensical distinction, “I’m not judging you, I’m judging your sin.” Of course, he was judging people for their sin. Neither may we conclude that by judging He was unloving. When the Lord judged the rich young man by focusing on his love of riches, we read that Jesus  “looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21). For Jesus to not judge this man (and thereby not challenge him to repent and be saved) would have been unloving.

Expression

Jesus Christ openly spoke His judgments to others.
Jesus was not hesitant to verbally judge those who merited condemnation. The cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum hardened their hearts against Him and refused to repent. The Bible reports that Jesus “began to denounce” them (Matthew 11:20).  The Greek word translated “denounce” is quite a strong term, usually indicating the idea of reviling, heaping insults, and putting someone to shame. The Lord pronounced a divine “Woe” upon them (verse 21) and warned them of the horrors of their coming judgment.

Christ even made judicious use of sarcasm in judging sinful folly. When some Pharisees found fault with the disciples for breaking one of their unscriptural Sabbath rules (Matthew 12:1-8), Jesus came back at them with two Bible passages that proved them wrong. Although the Pharisees were proud of their supposed great knowledge of the Bible, Jesus introduced each example with the sarcastic words “Have you not read …?” From there, He went on to judge them because they had dared to “condemn the guiltless.”

As you may imagine, those at the receiving end of the Lord’s judging words did not always take it well. At one point the disciples - perhaps thinking Jesus should tone it down a bit - came to Him and said “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” (Matthew 15:12). The Lord’s reply? Another judgmental statement: “Let them alone. They are blind guides” (verse 14).

Execution

Jesus followed up on His judgments with appropriate action.
When Jesus returned to Nazareth, His hometown, the people rejected His teaching and gave Him no honor. He spoke a word against them for their attitude, “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). He judged them by withholding the extent of mercy He freely gave to other cities.

The temple in Jerusalem was the center of worship for the people of Israel. On the first “Palm Sunday,” when Jesus made his Triumphal Entry, we read that “he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out” (Mark 11:11). What He saw did not please Him, so the next day he came and cleansed the temple by driving out the money changers, accusing them of making God’s house “a den of robbers” (verse 17). He came, He saw, He judged.

These are just a few of many examples of how the Lord Jesus Christ judged people. Lest we delude ourselves with the fantasy that judging is a minor part of Jesus’ stance toward us, consider what He said to his listeners: “I have much to say about you and much to judge” (John 8:26).  It is clear that all three aspects of judging – Evaluation, Expression, and Execution – were a strong part of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, Jesus is not done judging. He is coming back to judge the world, all who ever lived. We read that God the Father “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). Jesus – the one we are told never judges anyone – “is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead” (Act 10:42).

The example of our Lord shows us that we should engage in the practice of judging. The most quoted-out-of-context verse in the Bible is probably Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This verse actually introduces a section in which Jesus teaches us how to judge correctly (read verse 5). In Luke 12:57 the Lord rebukes us for failing to judge: "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”

It is important to keep in mind that the example of Jesus also shows us how to judge. For instance in John 7:24 He commands us, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." This calls for godly wisdom and much grace, but it is a Christian responsibility we must not neglect.

So do not be intimidated by those who chide you for judging, and do not let anyone get away with an illegitimate appeal to the example of the Lord Jesus. Judge yourself first, ask God for courage and wisdom, and then be boldly engaged in “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

In fact, if we fail in this, we will be judged for not judging.

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