The Defendant and the Judge
I heard a story on the radio the other day. Apparently, it captured the hearts of many, because it continued to be broadcast on the nationwide news for a while. (Click here to view the video.)
It seems that a man in Miami, Florida, was brought to court on allegations of burglary. At some point during the hearing, the judge asked the man if he had attended a certain middle school. The man then recognized the judge as a former classmate and began to cry and say, “Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!” over and over again.
The judge told the court that he “was the nicest kid in middle school. I used to play football with him, all the kids, and look what has happened.” The defendant continued to cry, probably amazed that she remembered him and had such good things to say about him.
The judge told the defendant, “I’m sorry to see you here, sir,” which made him cry even more. At the end, she told him, “Good luck to you, sir. I hope you are able to come out of this ok and just lead a lawful life.”
I think the majority of folks who liked this story probably can’t articulate why. Was it because a white, female judge was being kind to a black, male defendant? Was it a social study on how two people raised in the same community can end up down such different paths? Was it that the judge said anything at all, when she could have just kept quiet?
I believe the real story here is that this is a reminder that we all have a Judge. Our Judge is not some nameless, faceless entity that will decide our future with an impersonal downward swing of a gavel. No, our ultimate Judge is God, and He knows us.
Psalm 139:1-6, NAS O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.
All That I Have Done
I love the story of the woman at the well, John 4:1-43. This is a rich chapter, so there’s a lot we could focus on. What is jumping out at me now is the fact that Jesus knew all about this woman. He had never met her; in fact, Jewish men didn’t hang out with strange women at wells. Nor did Jews hang out with Samaritans, in general.
However, Jesus knew all about this woman. He gently, but strongly, let her know this when He told her to go and get her husband. She replied that she had no husband, to which Jesus said “you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” (John 4:18, NAS)
Undoubtedly, this had to give the woman quite a jolt. She said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” (verse 19) Then, she tested Him with some religious, legalistic details. Jesus eventually told her that He was the Messiah they were waiting for. The woman had heard enough. She went into the city and told the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ is it?” (John 4:29, NAS)
In verse 39, we read “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’”
Prepare to Meet Your Judge
When we’re children, we try to deny what we have done. We say, “No, I didn’t eat the candy,” all the while covered in chocolate. We couldn’t hide from mama then, and we can’t hide from God now.
So what do we do? David tells us to get our hearts right with God:
Psalm 139:23-24, NAS Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious
thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
Sometimes, we don’t realize when our thoughts have gone astray. Like David, we can ask God to tell us, to bring it to our awareness when we are starting down the wrong path. (I wonder if anyone had a warning word for the defendant before he went down a path that led him to that courtroom.)
And what do we do when we meet our Judge, the One who knows all that we have done? What is our defense? Do we just stand there, hopeless in our grief over what we should have done with our lives?
Not at all! We know that Jesus already paid the price for our sins. There is nothing more that we must do but believe on that fact and accept Jesus’ sacrifice:
Romans 10:8-11, NAS But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”– that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Are you trying to hide your sin? You may be able to hide it from man, but you can’t hide it from God. There is nothing too bad or too shameful that you cannot take to Jesus in prayer. He’s already died for it. You may as well accept His sacrifice and forgiveness thankfully and move on, living a life that honors Him.
God used the woman at the well, a woman who was living a rough and shameful life, to bring about the salvation of her city. Imagine what you can do for His kingdom!