From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Most of us know more about judges and courtrooms from television and movies than by personal experience. Most of us would like to keep distance from courts, trials, and judges – these are serious people and places. We realize that in some way or another, a judge holds human destiny in his or her hands. It’s a sobering thing to realize that a judge is coming and that you have to stand before the judge.
This brief line from the Apostles’ Creed – From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead – says that our Judge is Jesus, and He is coming.
It tells us where He comes from – from thence, from heaven, where He ascended after His resurrection
It tells us what Jesus will do – He shall come, that is, He shall return to this earth
It tells us what He is coming to do: to judge
It tells us who He will judge: the quick (the living) and the dead
When we think of Jesus as He walked this earth, and as His life was recorded in the gospels, it is sometimes hard to think of Him as a judge. Yet the loving nature and ministry of Jesus qualifies Him to be the best judge. However, there is something else in Jesus’ ministry that makes Him even more qualified to be the judge of all people. If anything qualifies Jesus to be our judge, it is that Jesus knows what it is like to be the target of judgment. As He hung on the cross for our sins, God the Father poured out on God the Son the righteous judgment we deserved. Jesus, though He was sinless, put Himself in the place of guilty sinners.
One day Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. Jesus said, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22 – click here for more on John 5) And when He does, every defendant before the court of God will look into the face of the One who still shows the wounds from standing in the place of judgment. Every guilty defendant will know that their Judge could have been their Savior, if they would only have turned their trust away from themselves and onto Him.
So it is true: the Judge is coming. But He only comes as a judge because He first came as a Savior. Those who receive Him as He came first (as Savior) will have no trouble when He comes the second time, when He shall come to judge the wicked and the dead.