A lot of people in our society at least know something about Jesus, and when it comes to trying to make a case for something, Jesus might be the most popular name-drop. Most people want Jesus to be on their side, which is a big reason why there are so many different sketches of Jesus in American life. There’s a recent book that gives a good critique of these different sketches. It talks about the Guru Jesus, the American Jesus, the Left-Wing Jesus, the Dr. Phil Jesus, the Prosperity Jesus, the BFF Jesus, and on and on. Basically, on a societal level, we can often try to make Jesus into whatever sketch best fits our present agenda.
And this is why the Bible is so important, and why Advent is such a special season. It’s a chance for us to step back and look freshly at what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what he has to do with this world. And when we do that, we come across passages like we read earlier from Isaiah 11. Jesus, the promised Messiah, is a righteous judge. Isaiah 11:5, “He shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.”
Well, that’s not a popular image of Jesus. And in case we think that’s just an ‘Old Testament thing,’ the apostle Paul said things even stronger than that. In one of his New Testament letters to the Thessalonians, in 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul writes:
God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed. . . . (2 Thess. 1:6–10)
Jesus is humble, meek, and mild — he is the Lamb of God. And he is the Lion of Judah. He is fiercely opposed to sin, which means he didn’t just come to save us from it, he came to make war against it. Jesus will judge sin. Jesus will punish the wicked. And because that is true of him, we should remember that this Advent season. Pray with me:
Prayer of Confession
Lord Jesus, we stand under your reality this morning. We want to be challenged and changed in every way that we think wrongly of you. And we confess that we do think wrongly of you. So forgive us, please, Jesus, for how we have manipulated your example to suit our desires. Forgive us for using you, for accepting only the parts of you that we find most acceptable. Forgive us for white-knuckling only the parts of you that justify the parts of us that we know are not as they should be.
You, Lord Jesus, are perfect in your entirety. Everything about you, whether it’s understood in itself or understood as a whole, everything about you is perfect. And those perfections include your eternal and unchanging character; your presence everywhere; your inexhaustible knowledge of all things; your irrefutable, unsearchable wisdom; your absolute, irresistible power and sovereignty over all that happens; your unspotted moral purity, your beauty, your holiness; and your justice, Lord Jesus — your perfections include you inexorable judgment that will ultimately put all things right. We ask for that, Jesus, our Righteous Judge. You will ultimately put all things right, including us, even as you are working in us now. Do that work, we pray, as we confess our sins to you in silence. . . .