John 9:39 (NIV): Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Some people have a problem with the idea that Jesus came into the world for judgment on His first visit. The typical argument goes like this: The first time Jesus came, He came in love to save people and to show them Who God really is. When He comes back, THEN He will come in judgment on those who didn’t receive Him. But then, what do you do with this verse, these words from Jesus’ own lips?
Jesus did come the first time to save people from their sins and to show them Who God really is. But in doing that, He automatically caused people to choose sides – to sort themselves into those who would accept Jesus for who He claimed to be (God in the flesh), and those who would reject Him, and thus reject God, the one Who sent Him. So His very presence created both the opportunity to be saved and receive life, and the opportunity to stand against Him and bring judgment on oneself.
That same sorting, that same self-categorizing, goes on even today. There are still those who are drawn to God through His people, who receive Jesus for Who He really is – the God-man through whom salvation was bought and paid for, and thus receive salvation and eternal life. But there are also those who reject God’s people, who reject Jesus, and who thus reject God. They sort themselves into the category of those who oppose God, oppose His agenda, and who will thus be subject to His wrath.
However, it is also important to remember that as long as there is life, there is hope. Like Paul (and even like me!), people have opportunities to change their alignment; to stop rejecting Jesus, and to receive all of the life that has been made possible for them through His sacrifice. Thorough a changing of their own choice, they can actually change the judgment that is awaiting them. But that opportunity ends when they die and stand before God, when the judgment against them will be written for all eternity; or when Jesus returns, when the same thing will happen. But it is crucial for all of God’s people to remember that even though their presence will tend to make people choose one side or the other, light or darkness, peace or war, life or death, no one should ever give up loving their neighbors, and even their enemies, praying for those who persecute them, and trying with all that is within them to try to turn those who have not yet chosen Jesus to turn into the way of life before it is too late.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I was one who rejected Jesus, and even taught against Him. But the faithful prayers and witness of Your people, and Your own love showing me my lostness, my doomed future, the judgment that I had drawn against myself by my own choices, drew me to the cross, to full surrender, and to eternal life. Thank You for not giving up on me!