Judge the Quick and the Dead
We love the story of Jesus’ incarnation. We love the story of him being placed in the manager. We love the story of him at the temple at a young age. We love the story of Christ and the cross. However, many Christians struggle with Christ as the judge. We don’t want people to interfere with our lives. We are happy to take encouragement but not criticism. “God is Love.” The Bible verse people love to quote, to live by. However, they then imply what they want love to be. I have never seen art décor or bible verses quoting Hebrews 12:29, “For our God is a consuming fire.” Everyone sees Jesus as the shepherd; however, we get a different image in the Gospels. Jesus is not everybody’s shepherd. Only his sheep hear his voice (John 10:14). Matthew 25 gives a pretty clear picture of Christ at his second coming. He will gather the nations before him and separate the sheep from the goats (Matt 25:32). There are only two sides, his right and left. The sheep will be on his right and the goats on his left. However, what a difference it will make if you are a sheep or a goat. The goats are sent away into eternal punishment, but the sheep, the righteous, into everlasting life (Matt 25:46).
When Christ returns, he will judge the sheep and the goats. There will be no trial before a judge as we have in this country. Christ has all the evidence he needs, for he knows who are his. Everybody will stand before Jesus, the judge. He will be seated on the great white throne. In our court system, although it is meant to be just, it is not perfect. Innocent people go to jail, and the guilty can walk free. However, not on this last day. There will be no mistrials or wrongful convictions. Jesus, the just judge, will judge all people, great and small. He will judge them according to what they have done. Just as there are sheep and goats, he will have two books before him. If your name is not in the book of life, then you will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15).
Christ will judge the quick and the dead. This phrase is an interesting phrase from the King James Bible (1611)—used three times (Acts 10:42, 2 Tim 4:1 and 1 Pet 4:3-5). The term “quick and the dead” means those who are alive and those who are dead. At Christ’s second coming, he will Judge everyone, those currently living and those who have passed away. No one will slip through this judgment. No one will be able to bribe the judge or convince him of something he has not done.
We often want to define God on our terms. However, man did not make God. God made man. The Bible teaches us that God is unchangeable, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We cannot say we will have Jesus in a manger but not on the throne. Everyone will stand before Jesus on the throne. There is no eliminating that. However, to truly understand the great news of the gospel, we need to understand that he died not because we are lovable but because he is merciful. The cross is both a symbol of God’s love for his people but also his wrath and anger of sin of his people. The cross where mercy and wrath meet. John Newton has a hymn called “Day of Judgment! Day of Wonders.” This hymn has one stanza that sends chills down your spine for those who do not belong to Christ, the goats, “Careless sinner, what will become of thee?”
At his call, the dead awaken,
rise to life from earth and sea;
all the pow’rs of nature, shaken
by his looks, prepare to flee.
what will then become of thee?