Summary: Jesus will return to Judge. Because Jesus is the Judge, there is 1) justice, 2) accountability, and 3) grace.
APOSTLES’ CREED: Comfort in God’s Judgment
In last week’s message on the Apostles’ Creed, we looked at how Jesus ascended into heaven, where he has all authority and power, advocates for us, and is holding a place for us. The next sentence of the creed looks to the future: “From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”
JESUS WILL COME BACK.
Immediately after Jesus ascending into heaven, the disciples were still looking into the sky, when two angels appeared: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
What is the purpose of Jesus’ return? Jesus said in Matthew 25, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats… “Then [the unrighteous] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
JESUS WILL COME TO JUDGE.
How do you feel about the final judgment?
***On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys picked up a bucketful of pecans and sat down behind some bushes to divide the nuts. “One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me…” said one of the boys. As they divided the nuts, several dropped and rolled toward the fence.
Another boy came riding along on his bicycle. As he passed, he heard voices from inside the cemetery, and he stopped to listen. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me…”
The boy was spooked. He jumped on his bike, and rode off. Just around the bend, he met an old man with a cane. “Come with me quick,” said the boy, “You won’t believe what is going on. Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up souls.”
The old man reluctantly hobbled along, finally arriving with the boy at the edge of the cemetery. He too heard, “One for you, one for me…” He whispered, “You’ve been telling me the truth, boy. Let’s see if we can see the Lord.” They went right up to the fence, trying to see, when they heard, “One for you, one for me. That’s all we have here. Now let’s go get those nuts by the fence and we’ll be done.”
They say the old man beat the boy back to town.** (source unknown)
Some people fear the final judgment, and some are offended by the idea that God will judge. If we belong to Jesus Christ, our faith that Jesus will judge all people should be a source of great COMFORT. Why is that?
Because Jesus Christ will come to judge, THERE IS JUSTICE IN THE WORLD.
***We were in high school chemistry class, when word came that students from a neighboring high school were doing a “victory lap” through the oval drive. They had won the state championship in boys’ basketball, and they were driving past the building, honking car horns and making a racket.
At the head of the procession was the son of the local Chevy dealer, driving a brand new Corvette. He stopped at the edge of the street, revved the engine, and popped the clutch. The transmission dropped to the pavement, with the car had to be towed away. There is justice! **
The desire for justice is universal. Even children say: “It’s not right!” or “They shouldn’t be able to get away with that.” When a person at work gets credit for what other people do, or a scam artist cheats a vulnerable person, we want justice. When a baseball player makes millions by taking illegal drugs, or a billionaire pays no taxes, we want justice.
Yet justice is often delayed. We used to say, “Cheaters never prosper,” but the truth is that sometimes they do. People with power or wealth escape accountability, while they abuse others, in business, politics, or the social structure of the local middle school.
But God sees what is going on. James 5:1-6 says, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you…You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”