John 5:27-30 (NIV): “And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
Jesus often said things that sounded very judgmental, and sometimes quite harsh. For example, He called the Pharisees and teachers of the law hypocrites and whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27-28), offending them greatly.
But Jesus’ judgments were always true, and just, and right. That was because He never made any judgments on His own, but judged as He heard from the Father. The Father communicated to Him what was true about these people, and allowed Him to see beyond the holy façade that these religious leader put on. So when He spoke, even when His words of judgment seemed harsh, they were always 100% true.
In this passage, Jesus looked forward to the end of this world, seeing the time of the great judgment, when all will stand before the throne of God (cf. Revelation 20:11-15). Each person will be judged on the basis of what they had done, which is the clearest indicator of what is truly in one’s heart. On that day, all of the corruption of those religious leaders, people who made themselves look so good on the outside while plotting murder on the inside, will be laid bare for all to see. There will be no ability to hide. No smoke screen will be effective. No plea bargaining will be allowed.
On that day, Jesus will call everyone from wherever their graves are – on land, or even in the depths of the sea (Revelation 20:13), and they will all have to stand before the throne of God. Those who have received Jesus and who have demonstrated it by living lives of obedience will be ushered into eternal life. Those who have rejected Jesus and whose lives bear witness to that rejection by evil acts will be sentenced to eternal separation from God.
One last point: Jesus could be trusted to always judge correctly because He had no self-interest to promote or preserve. His judgments could always be trusted to be absolutely true and accurate because there was nothing in Him that could be swayed by argument, bribes, or even pity. Every judgment that He made was motivated purely by the motive of seeking God’s will, and God’s will alone.
Father, it is always an awe-inspiring thing to contemplate the final judgment. And it is also amazing to think that we can get a glimpse of what that judgment will be like by seeing how Jesus dealt with the teachers of the law and Pharisees. There was no compromising with them, no hesitancy, no half-measures, and never a softening or pulling away because of misplaced compassion. The truth was always stated clearly and completely. Help us, Lord, to never be content with hiding our bad hearts behind a good mask, hoping to look good enough to pass muster with You. Instead, help us to be perfectly honest with ourselves about ANY wicked ways in our heart (cf. Psalm 139:23-24), so that we can truly repent of them, and be able to stand at the judgment unashamed. Amen.