Why is Jesus returning to Judge?

I recently watched a video with my students about different end time interpretations of Revelation as we did a very brisk overview of John’s vision of Jesus’ Revelation. Granted, this is not an easy book to apply to our current reality because there are so many varying degrees of understanding and varying degrees of importance held by different denominations.  I would say the first three chapters, and what I teach the students, are the most applicable.  If you have time, read what Jesus’ message is to the seven churches of Revelation and know that John was commanded to send this letter to them.  Based off of that, we know that these churches existed in John’s time and represent the present for John and possibly our own present state of church health or lack thereof.

Back to the video of the end of the world, I show it because all teenagers are fascinated with the end of the world scenarios.  Whether it be The Walking Dead, Maze Runner, Hunger Games and I can also throw in Avengers: Endgame as a possible end of humanity possibility.  I was able to, and to the rolling eye laughs of my 16 mostly 17 year old students, constantly make some connection to Endgame.  The end of Infinity War, was the exact representation of what a rapture event could look like. The internet even birthed a new term calling it a Snapture.

A snap rapture, a snapture, now that is funny.  Bridging pop culture with something of epic biblical apocalyptic possibility is not something new to our culture, but clever nonetheless.  The events of Endgame play out the result of a snapture scenario, and for the purpose of our class, a rapture scenario, if one believes Dispensational Pre-Millennialism at face value.

All this end of the world talk is not what grabbed my attention in the doomsday video I showed my class.  It was a professor’s observation of what he saw as a different Jesus.  He observed that the Jesus that returns in Revelation 19 to war against the nations does not sound like the gentle Jesus from the sermon on the mount. He saw this as a contradiction.  How can the Jesus who preached about “turning the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39), return to wage war with his enemies?

3 Responses to gentle Jesus and the judgement of Jesus:

  1. The context of the sermon on the mount was to teach people how they, on a personal level, should deal with the spiritual leaders of their day.  That is why Jesus continually says, “You’ve heard it said,” (Matthew 5:38 for example). Contemporary teachers of Jesus’ day were making rules and laws not found in the Mosaic laws but rather interpreting the law by adding to them.  Legalism brought the teachers of the Jewish laws in Jesus’ time to the point of having it all together on the outside, but their hearts were “white washed tombs,” (Matthew 23:27). This is not Jesus being gentle, it is Jesus having the audacity to overturn the religious institution upside down and tell them how wrong they are.  It would be a mistake to look at the words Jesus spoke within the sermon on the mount and call them “gentle.”  In one foul swoop, he is both giving true wisdom and slapping the cultural religious rules square in the face.  Do not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14 and quote by Jesus in Matthew 5:27), but if you look at a woman lustfully you have committed adultery in your heart, “SMACK!!!”  It is possible to commit adultery and never have touched another woman.  That is not gentle, that is soul shredding truth.  It should bring the most spiritual person to their knees to realize how far from God they are and how much they need Jesus.
  2. Did Jesus, in the Gospels, ever talk about the consequences of sin? Yes! For Jesus, everything has its time and its place.  He wasn’t crucified the first week of ministry, it was after three years because he kept saying, “Now is not my time” (John 2:4, Matthew 8:29, John 7:6).  His time on earth serves as a warning in the very words of the Gospel, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17 and Mark 1:15).  If Jesus is gentle, why is he telling people to turn away from their evil deeds?  It’s because he loves the world so much he is willing to serve as a witness to the truth that our time is short.  God’s Kingdom is here and you need to put down your old ways and turn to Jesus.  The whole “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28) fits here with the consequences for not repenting. This is not simply a gentle Jesus; this is a loving Jesus who draws a boundary to protect us.  As any parent should, they warn their child first as an act of love. Then when an act of defiance occurs, a punishment is given to teach the child not to step outside the boundary of safety that has been put in place.  This type of discipline is to save their life in the grand scheme of choices they will make as adults.  Jesus came to teach us that the small things matter because the bigger result of disobedience is still to come.
  3. Before Jesus returns to slay his enemies, he first surrendered to his enemies as and atoning sacrifice.  As if to say, before I cast my judgement on you, I’m going to allow you to commit the unspeakable, killing of an innocent, so that the whole world knows if you reject me then you have no more second chances.  Forgiveness is offered here and now in this life.  When Jesus returns to bring judgement with him it is beyond fair and is right.  The one who gets to judge is the one who never sinned and sacrificed himself to his enemies first (Hebrews 10:10, 1 Timothy 2:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).  He turned the other cheek to the point of death.  He defeated death by his resurrection and he has commissioned his followers to remain faithful and to teach the nations who He is (Matthew 28:20).  Believe, repent, receive and adjust accordingly.  He has given us a way to get back to God who we walked away from.  He has offered forgiveness to his enemies so that we might become his friends (John 15:15). He has done all this first, before he brings judgement.

Why judgement?  It’s the answer to pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4).  He will deal with all that is unjust, unfair, evil and broken when the King comes to judge those who have committed crimes against the King and his kingdom, and have not thrown themselves at the mercy of His feet.  Why do God’s people suffer?  They will not suffer forever; God hears our every cry and the Jesus who gave his life as a ransom for many will return to set things right.  He has been given the authority and has earned the right to cast judgement (Acts 17:31 and Romans 2:16) because he became like us and yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).  I trust Jesus to know who his real enemies are and to cast his verdict on them fairly and justly.  I cast my soul at the feet of Jesus daily, ask for mercy and then walk as one who has been forgiven and free to follow him willingly with no shame.  Our Jesus is gentle if you let him be, but his judgement is for those who reject His peace offering.

Come Lord Jesus, come.

In Truth & Love
Matthew J Diaz

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Looking forward to your addition to this dialogue.