Let us pray: Dear Savior, every debt must eventually be paid. That’s a truism of this life. And unfortunately, because so many refuse to believe in You, on judgment day they must pay their debt to God Almighty and they will be found penniless. However, we know that You have already paid our debt to the Almighty on the cross and in gratefulness we have accepted Your gift through faith. So, for us judgment day is vindication and freedom. For that we thank You again today. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR ULTIMATE JUDGE
TEXT: John 5: 19-24
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
As I indicated in our prayer, in this life you always have to eventually pay the piper. Or, to phrase it another way: There’s no free lunch. You can rack up credit card bills and live very well for a while, but eventually, if you don’t pay up they will cut off your line of credit and hound you literally to the grave. And all that brings on a gnawing sense of foreboding.
Remember when you were in school? Remember those big, important, all-day tests? Remember when you finally had to answer questions about those subjects that you were weak in and didn’t know the answers? And then came the day when you were to get back your test scores. Did you sleep well that night with confidence over it all, or did you trudge off the school with worry etching your face?
Some of you have had to face the doctor and receive bad health news. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. All those years of abusing your body finally came home to roost. Yes, you might have had a foreshadowing of bad news. You might well have put off hearing by rescheduling the appointment. But it loomed over your future and eventually you had to listen. This same sense of apprehension hangs over the whole concept of judgment day. It may well seem very far into our future, but we all know it’s coming and fear over what awaits us looms large.
Jesus has just healed a paralyzed man on a Sabbath day. When asked where He got such power, Jesus replied that God, His very Father, had given it to Him. To His enemies, that answer was a huge sin. Not only did He break Sabbath tradition and “work” by healing on that day of rest, but He also identified Himself as the Son of God. We’re told that after that those enemies sought to kill Him. Then Jesus says this: “Very truly I tell you, 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, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 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.”
This is an echo of another statement by Jesus: “I and the Father am One.” In other words, Jesus Christ is true God. He, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, comprise the Godhead. And in His very Person, Christ both would and have the power to raise the dead to life! We see shades of His coming resurrection here, don’t we? Moreover, Jesus in pure love could and would give eternal life and salvation to those whom He called by His grace and made holy by His perfect life of love lived for them. In other words, He’s talking about us.
These enemies had judged Jesus’ heart and intentions. And they had decided He was a fraud. But now Jesus speaks to them about their hard hearts and turns the whole issue around: “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”
If you’re hauled into court probably the worst thing you can do is to disrespect the judge. I know, he or she, is supposed to decide the merits of the case strictly on the basis of the law. But, if you criticize the judge and mouth off to him, that’s tantamount to disrespecting the law, isn’t it? So, by disrespecting Christ, people disrespect God Almighty. They disrespect the whole concept of Divine justice and Divine goodness. And likewise, they will be held accountable. That accounting will take place at the end of the world on judgment day. A day you won’t be able to postpone, put-off or skip.
I’ve often said that when you die you’re placed completely into God’s reality of infinity or eternality or timelessness. That then means that there will no longer be a past or future, but everything is present reality—right now! So, at that point judgment day for you and everyone else will immediately occur. You will have to plead your case to God for allowing you to enter heaven. So, what will you say and how will you plead? Most will operate exactly the same way they did while on this earth. “I was sick and couldn’t study. The dog ate my homework. I tried, shouldn’t that count for something? I wasn’t as “bad” as the fellow down the street who beat his wife.”—The list of excuses is endless when it comes to our failures. But God’s perfect Law rings true: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” We aren’t. So, we’re all guilty of eternal punishment in hell. After all, the Judge cannot go against His own Law, can He?
No, He cannot. But He can fulfill His Law. That’s where Christ comes in. In perfection, Christ kept every commandment for you. In perfect love, Christ died on the cross in your place and suffered hell—separation from God’s goodness—for you. He paid for all your sins. So, if you stand before God in Christ, in faith, He won’t see you but instead He will see Christ. And then His verdict will be: not guilty through faith.
Here Jesus adds another wrinkle: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” From our text we know that our Judge on that final day will be Jesus Himself. And just as Jesus cannot pronounce Himself guilty of our sins once more—since He already assumed that guilt and paid for it on the cross—so our loving Brother will not and can not deny us glory. It would be akin to double jeopardy. It would be akin to Christ denying Himself and His life of love earned for us.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this sermon. In life you always have to pay the piper. That’s why judgment day is scary and unsettling. But Jesus is the Piper and He has already paid our debt to God in full! We have the ultimate in Judges on our side—right now! So whatever the future holds, be assured to this: JUDGMENT DAY HOLDS NO FEAR FOR THE CHRISTIAN! Perhaps this is the ultimate blessing of living in His grace…..Amen