Scripture: 39 “And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, 41 not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. 43 He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” [Acts 10:39-43 NLT]
There have been many famous television attorneys such as Perry Mason, Ben Matlock, and Ally McBeal. There have been fewer television judges. Two of my favorites were Judge Harry Stone of "Night Court" (think 1980s) and Judge Joseph Wapner of "The People’s Court" (also the 80s). Joseph Wapner passed away last month at the age of 97. On "The People’s Court" he was tasked with presiding over real, small claims court cases. He started this role after his retirement in 1979 as a Superior Court Judge in California. The show was interesting because it was the first of its kind. It was also interesting because Judge Wapner definitely was in charge of the courtroom. When people came into the courtroom they knew that he was in charge and that he would make the final decision on their case. "The People’s Court" ran for 12 years and almost 2,500 episodes. Joseph Wapner was the judge for all of that time.
Do you remember the story of another first judge in the Old Testament? The Book of Exodus chapter eighteen recounts how Moses had become a judge and counselor for the people of Israel. Whenever a complaint against each other arose the Israelites would come and seek Moses’s guidance. Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, saw this and told Moses there was no way he could be the judge of all of Israel alone. Jethro suggested dividing the people and appointing others to help with the task of settling complaints. This is exactly what Moses did because of Jethro’s advice. He appointed capable men as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten people. Moses realized he could not be the judge of all.
The New Testament reality is that God moved from the way things were with Moses to a new set up. Our New Testament reading for today bears witness to the fact that “Jesus Christ is ordained by God to be the judge of all – the living and the dead.” Jesus is the One that all of the prophets pointed to concerning the forgiveness of sins and the judgement for those who do not seek forgiveness. Jesus is the judge of all. Ironically, we tend to try and take this position away from Jesus. Usually we do this unwittingly. We judge other people’s actions as being wrong or less than acceptable. We also judge our own actions as being justifiable or at least acceptable. The problem with this type of thinking is that we are not the judge. Matthew 7:4-5 makes this very clear with an illustration of a speck, a log, and an eye. We are not to put ourselves in the position of judging. Jesus is the only judge of all.
Today make your goal to please Jesus with all of your life. The reality is that one day we will be face-to-face with Jesus. We will be asked to give an account of how we lived for Christ. Make today count! The amazing part of Jesus being the judge of all is that we have a judge who knows us better than anyone and one that we know intimately as well. Live today for Jesus in everything you do. Then when that day does come you will have one day after another where you can truly answer Jesus saying, “I made every day count for you.” One last thing … we also have a judge who promises to be with us every moment as we strive to make each moment count. Jesus is judge of all, but a different kind of judge than any we have ever known.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for sending Jesus to know me, love me, save me, and even judge me. I pray that I will make today count for Christ. I praise you that my judge goes with me today and knows me intimately. I also praise you that my judge allows me to know Him intimately. I am counting on Christ today as I know Christ is counting on me. Amen.