In the study of Matthew, I often remarked how this gospel account presents a comprehensive view of the character of Jesus. In most churches, there in only one side presented and even this view is seriously misguided. Jesus is seen as a loving Saviour, as a kind benefactor, and as the most politically correct person you could ever meet. He never questions a motive nor does He ever rebuke an evil lifestyle. He will advise you to be kind and benevolent, to be peaceful and loving, and to be tolerant of everybody. The strong passages that speak of condemnation in hell and the utter destruction of the wicked are largely ignored.
I suppose the greatest tragedy of the understanding of Jesus is the divorcement of Him from the Old Testament scriptures. It is as if the God of the Old Testament is nothing but wrath and hatred while the Jesus of the New came to change the harshness of Israel’s God. This view fails to take into account this all important attribute of God—His immutability. God does not change, and if we understand who Jesus is in the real scriptural view, we will understand the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New. If God does not change, then whatever God says in the Old Testament is the same as He says in the New Testament. The same actions of the Old Testament are the actions of the New.
Thus we come to Psalm 50 which is a representation of God as our judge. In this psalm, we are taught that God judges all. Not only is He the judge, He is also the prosecutor and His prosecution rests its case in the infallibility and absolute righteousness of His law. In this psalm, God accused Israel of false worship in which they disobeyed His statutes, but they brought their offerings as if they could make up for their wickedness by giving God a pacifier. The point the psalmist makes is that God needs nothing from us. Sacrifices are not acceptable payment for a heart that is cold in its obedience. There is also warning against those who pretend to know God and use Him as if He approves while having no relationship with Him.
The ultimate result of this is divine judgment. Judgment will fall because of the transgression of His holy law. Very simply, God is the judge. This is important to us as we piece together the responsibilities of Jesus revealed in the New Testament. He is nothing different from the God of the Old who will judge according to His righteous standard. We must carefully observe Jesus’ statements in John 5:22 and 5:27: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son…And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” All judgment is committed to the Son who is one with the Father.
When the Old Testament was written, the final judgment was yet future just as it still is today. In other words, final judgment has not yet occurred, so whatever judgment was promised by God in the Old Testament will be fulfilled by Jesus who is appointed by the Father to be the judge. The inescapable conclusion is that Jesus in the New Testament will judge with all the wrathful enforcement promised in the Old. This is the real picture of this aspect of Jesus’ divine work.
This is a very foreboding prospect and should be rightfully considered such. However, there is a more hopeful prospect revealed in both the Old and New Testaments about prosecutorial conduct. The prosecutor who placed the charges against us is the same who is willing to set us free. He does not pardon us because we are not guilty but because He will take our punishment for us.
Do you need to fear Him as your judge? Not unless you are in unbelief. Otherwise you can welcome God’s judgment because you know the perfect righteousness of Christ has covered all your transgressions. What better way to meet the judge than with the perfect righteousness He provided? Consider who Jesus really is. Either fear His judgment or rejoice in it. Which way is He your judge?
Pastor V. Mark Smith