I see references in scripture to Christ as both judge and mediator of our eternal disposition. How can He be both?
A: Thank you for asking such an informed question! I’ve been writing about this recently yet welcome the opportunity to dive deeper into this important topic. In our world today, it is vital that we have a firm grip on who Jesus is, what He’s done for people, what He’s doing right now and what He’s yet to do. Jesus is the keystone of our Christian architecture. All things in the world, the Church and the Spirit are held together by Christ. The Apostle Paul put it best: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16, 17, NASB). Without the Savior, the Church is just another Elks Club or Moose Lodge full of good deeds and fellowship.
First, we need to understand exactly what a mediator is: “a person who attempts to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement; a go-between” (Google Dictionary). Google describes an earthly middleman. Our Jesus is the spiritual one who now lives in heaven praying for us day and night. His life on earth was voluntarily given as a final sacrifice which settled a debt owed to God Almighty. As a result of Jesus’ earthly death and subsequent resurrection, nobody must die now, who calls upon the name of the Lord. Surely our earthly bodies give out and cease to function, but with Jesus, our essence (the spirit of who we are) goes forth to another realm. Jesus became the go-between ... the middleman ... who lay down and is the bridge we now walk over to get to heaven (John 1:51).
Yet, the Bible also explains that Jesus is our judge at the end of human history: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what He has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Using these verses, the Apostle Paul is teaching one of his church-plants about the fate of a Christian. We are saved indeed by Christ’s sacrifice, but we are definitely not off the hook in terms of having our lives evaluated and judged at the end of time. The purpose of this is to avoid what we call cheap-grace: taking advantage of our Savior’s blood, accepting his forgiveness and then pleasantly living our lives like Christ’s death made no difference at all. Everything we do, say or think still matters even after our sins are wiped away.
So which is it, you ask? Is my savior the open door I hope He is at the end of my days? That I’ll be ushered across his bridge into heaven with his name on my lips and his blood covering my sins? Or is He going to judge me into a lesser eternal fate, God forbid; perhaps a hellish one? How can Jesus judge someone He loves and is partial to? As I’ve stated many times, my readers love to ask me unanswerable questions. I’m not God, so I don’t know how it all works exactly.
I’ll declare, however, that Jesus as Judge and Advocate at the same time speaks of his holiness. Holiness implies perfection, fairness, justice and purity. Human beings were given carte-blanche free will, so while we accept Christ and are cleansed, washed and eternally saved ... we still must answer for how we live in comparison to our God. Our life’s intimate details, by the way, are all recorded in his heavenly books. Not to cruelly call-down we unrighteous sinners (we know who we are), but rather to highlight what will be celebrated in heaven when we get there. I dare say Billy Graham, for example, will have a state fair-sized festival in comparison to my cake and punch reception.
We are tasked to live for Christ as best we can; quick to repent with out-loud praise and testimony to the King of Kings. Jesus defends us in the heavenly courtroom along the way, and will welcome us in.
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Ask Pastor Adrienne column: How can Jesus judge me while saving me?