Did Jesus Come to Judge the World or Not?

TODAY’S READING: JOHN 9-10

“Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” – John 9:39

“For judgment I came into this world.”

Jesus’ statement seems to clearly the answer the question “Did Jesus come to the judge the world of not?”

Or does it?

In John 5:22, Jesus said, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.”

Okay, so Jesus did come into the world to judge it.

But, wait.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “I judge no one.”

And, in verse 16, Jesus said, “For it is not I alone who judge, but and the Father who sent me.”

Okay…So, Jesus judges. And, now the Father judges too? But, Jesus said the Father judges no one.

In 12:47, Jesus said, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

Jesus, what is your problem?

Can you not give me a straight answer as to whether you are going to judge the world or not?

First, you say that is for judgment you came into this world. Then,  you say, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

Jesus, can you stop contradicting yourself?

Actually, Jesus is not contradicting himself. It only appears that way because of our English translation and the word “for.”

Let’s start with the passage from today’s reading, John 9:39.

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Every single English translation I checked says, “For judgment I came into this world.” But, this is a problem.

Why is it a problem?

The Greek word translated “for” is eis. According to A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, eis means to or into. Eis is used 1,634 times in the New Testament. It is translated to, into, or in 1,066 times. These are three most common translations of eis, and in that order.

Let’s use these meanings of eis in John 9:39.

“To judgment I came into this world.”

“Into judgment I came into this world.”

“In judgment I came into this world.”

In John 9:39, even though every English translation gives us this idea, Jesus is not saying that he came into the world to judge it. Rather, Jesus is saying that he came into this world to be judged. In other words, Jesus came into this world to be condemned on the cross.

John 18:31-32 says, “Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.’ This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show what kind of death he was going to die.”

Moses’ law did allow to the Jews to put someone to death. However, it was only to be done by stoning. The Jews were not allowed to crucify though. Therefore, the Jews took Jesus to Pilate so that Jesus could be crucified. And, as Pilate said, the Jews wanted to a judgment, a judgment of death, upon Jesus.

In Matthew 26, Jesus was brought to trial before the high priest. So, the high priest asked the rest of the scribes and the elders, “What is you judgment [more literally, your opinion]?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

So, in Matthew 27, they take Jesus to Pilate. Pilate is sitting on the judgment seat, which is both interesting and ironic. Verses 22 and 23 say, “Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ And he said, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!'”

Who is doing the judging?

Man.

Who is sitting on the judgment seat?

Man.

Who is being judged?

Jesus.

What is man’s judgment?

Death.

“Let him be crucified.” “Crucify him.”

“Into judgment I came into this world.”

Why did Jesus come into this world to be judged?

“That those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Jesus came to the world to be judged to alter our perception of, to change how we think about, power and wisdom.

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:22-31)

Now, let’s look at what seems to be the contradictory passage, John 12:47.

“I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

In this verse, the Greek word translated “for” is not eis. Instead of eis, Jesus uses the Greek word gar in this verse. This word assigns a reason, a cause, or a purpose for something. Gar means for, since, because. It is used 1,009 times in the New Testament and is translated “for” 966 of those times. Gar is the Greek word that we would most associate with the English word for and as being the reason something happens.

Here, Jesus is saying he does not judge because he did not come to judge the world. Instead of coming to judge the world, Jesus came to save the world. If Jesus had come to judge the world, then he would have condemned the world and put it to death, crucified it. But, Jesus did not come to condemn and crucify the world, he came to save it. Therefore, he did not come for the purpose of judging the world.

Let’s look at verse 47 in its fuller context.

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (verse 46)

What is the relationship between light and darkness?

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Light shines in the darkness. Light drives out and casts out darkness. God uses light to create by separating darkness from the world.

“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (verse 47)

Jesus is speaking about those who hear his words and do not keep them. He is talking about the disobedient. He is talking about those who do not see the light and are still blind. He is talking about those that love evil.

Jesus said in John 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

What does Jesus say to those who hear his words but don’t do them, the disobedient, the evil, those that love darkness rather than light?

“I do not judge them.”

Did you get that?

Jesus does not judge

  • the disobedient
  • the sinner
  • the evil
  • those that love darkness rather than light

Jesus does not condemn these people. Jesus does not crucify these people. Jesus does not put to death these people.

Not then.

Not now.

Not ever.

Why does Jesus not judge them?

“For [because] I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (verses 48-50)

God gave Jesus a commandment. This commandment what was what Jesus was to say and speak. The commandment God gave was Jesus’ word.

What was this commandment?

What was Jesus’ word?

Eternal life.

Eternal life is what Jesus has to say and speak. He says it just as the Father told him to say it.

Those that reject Jesus, those the judge him worthy of death and crucify him, and those that are disobedient, preferring darkness and evil rather than light and good, have a judge.

What is their judge?

Jesus’ word.

“The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

What is Jesus’ word?

Eternal life.

How are we to understand this?

How did God create with light?

By separating.

The Greek word for judgment is krino. It has the idea of separating and distinguishing.

Jesus is making all things new. Everything in him is a new creation. He does this by separating light from darkness in everything. Jesus does this separating by his word. And, as the word of God, the word spoken in Genesis, Jesus himself is the one that does the separating.

Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him whom we must give account.”

Jesus is the word of God that every creature, every created thing, every man and woman, must face. And, Jesus speaks eternal life to them, separating out light and darkness, good and evil, out of every thought and intention of their heart.

Jesus says his word of eternal life will judge the disobedient on the last day. In Romans 2:15-16, Paul says, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

What does God judge?

The secrets of men. The hidden and concealed things of men.

What are these things?

The thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

God judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, separating out, casting out, the darkness within us. It is these evil thoughts and intentions that are God’s enemies that he destroys. God’s judgment is against these things, not men themselves.

In John 8:15, Jesus said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”

We saw above how we judge according to the flesh. Our method of judgment is just how we judge Jesus – worthy of death and crucifixion.

Jesus does not judge this way. He does not judge the flesh. His word of eternal life judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So, why did I say that Pilate sitting on the judgement seat was both interesting and ironic?

Because from the judgement seat mankind pronounced his judgement of God. Mankind judged God worthy of death and crucifixion.

But, Jesus is going to sit on his judgment seat one day, the last day. From his judgment seat, Jesus, God, is going to judge mankind. However, Jesus’ judgment will not be that we are worthy of death and crucifixion. Jesus is going to judge us with his word, the word that was the commandment his Father gave him, that which he says and speaks – eternal life.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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