Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO
INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: Lots of people misuse this text.))
Ever been taken out of context? When you’ve said something, and then only a small portion of that gets spread around? And it doesn’t matter what the original context was or what other things you said. Just a snippet. And then everyone runs with what you said, even though it’s not really what you said.
That’s our Gospel text today, and what people do to it! “Judge not.” Full stop. It’s as if Jesus said nothing else. “Judge not.” It doesn’t matter that that’s not even a full sentence in Jesus’ sermon in Luke 6. So it certainly doesn’t matter that just quoting those two words—two words!—isn’t actually related to the point Jesus is trying to make.
But “judge not” is catchier, and so people misuse this text, misuse Jesus’ sermon to fit what they want to. Using “judge not” as the supposed Christian trump card so that they can keep doing whatever it is they want to do, whatever sin they want to hang on to, keep doing, keep living in.
((4. Ugh!: You do, too!—Thus say the LORD.))
But the Lord is preaching to you today. He’s not preaching His sermon to people outside these walls. That wouldn’t make much sense, anyway. No, today’s sermon from Jesus is just like when He gave the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai. When you read the 10 Commandments, and any Word of Law for that matter, the word’s the same: “you shall.” He says, “You.” Not them. “You.”
Same with “judge not.” Thus says the Lord, “Judge not.” “You judge not.” He’s not talking about other people. He’s talking about you. He’s not giving you some sort of weapon so you can win an argument. This isn’t a final word so that you can keep people off your back. He’s not giving this word to you so that you can keep doing whatever you want to do, or believing what you want to believe, or acting the way you want to act, and then if anyone says anything to you about it, you can just shut them up by saying, “Judge not.” And if those people are Christians, even better. “Jesus said, ‘Judge not.’”
But you can’t escape the Lord’s Word. He preaching to you. He’s saying, “Don’t you judge.” But our flesh doesn’t want that. So anytime you misuse this text, by misquoting Jesus’ sermon to get people off your back, well, that’s your flesh doing what it does best: putting you first before others, being selfish, and actually doing what Jesus is telling you not to do. For when you use “Judge not” to others, you’re actually using it to judge them, to condemn them because you’ve actually set yourself up as judge, rather than listening to what the true Judge, Jesus, is telling to you.
((3. Aha!: The text isn’t about judgment but mercy.))
And here’s the key to this whole thing. Listening to what Judge Jesus has to say. Not just listening to two words, but listening to His whole sermon. Because if you stop with only two words, you think that this whole sermon is about judgment and condemnation. And with two words (“judge not”) you end up making this text all about acceptance or toleration. How happy that would make all of us!
But it’s not. Can’t be. Judge not doesn’t mean that. Judge not doesn’t mean we can’t have Christian judges Or Christian cops. It doesn’t mean we don’t have any sort of Christian who renders judgment. Otherwise, I guess parents can’t punish their children! Can you imagine children harping back at their parents “Judge not”? Or a pulled over Christian saying judge not to the officer? Of course not!
So, what’s Judge Jesus actually talking about? He’s not talking about judgment or condemnation. He’s not talking about acceptance. He’s not talking about being tolerant. He’s actually talking about mercy. He’s actually talking about forgiveness.
((2. Whee!: IN JESUS, YOU AREN’T JUDGED.))
Jesus is Judge. Jesus “will come to judge the living and the dead.” He “will come to be our Judge.” As Jesus says in John, “The Father has given all judgment to the Son because He is the Son of Man.” The judgment Judge Jesus is talking about is the forgiveness He renders for sinners. Jesus is the mercy of the Father. That’s the judgment Jesus renders: mercy, forgiveness. IN JESUS, YOU AREN’T JUDGED.
Forgiveness—innocent verdict—is Jesus’ judgment. You aren’t judged when you’re IN JESUS. In Him is mercy, forgiveness of sins. Outside of Him, there’s sin, death, darkness, judgment, weeping and gnashing of teeth, hell. But not in JESUS. “Not judged” that’s you in Jesus. “Not condemned” that’s you in Jesus. “Forgiven” that’s you in Jesus. “Given to” that’s you in Jesus. IN JESUS, YOU AREN’T JUDGED.
That’s what you see in the Parable Jesus tells. Specks and logs are clearly sins. Judgment against the sinner doesn’t remove sins. Forgiving the sinner does. And being forgiven, receiving it and believing it, you then are trained by the Spirit to know how to deliver forgiveness of sins to others. (Besides the fact that Judge Jesus is telling you that your sins (“logs”) are a bigger problem than theirs (“speck”), which also the opposite of how we treat others. We treat them as if they’re the problem, not us.)
IN JESUS, YOU AREN’T JUDGED, because Jesus was judged in your place. At Calvary His Father was unmerciful to His Son so that He could have mercy on you. That’s how your heavenly Father is merciful toward you. Jesus is merciful you by undergoing that judgment for you, in your place. The guiltless, spotless Lamb of God is declared guilty to redeem you, to forgive you. “It is finished.” “Father forgive…” Judge Jesus speaks from the judgment seat of His cross. That’s His judgment for you. In this Jesus, only in Him, baptized into Him, trusting Him, YOU AREN’T JUDGED.
((1. Yeah!: Jesus’ measurement is given to you.))
IN JESUS, YOU AREN’T JUDGED. Not guilty, innocent—that’s you in Jesus. That’s Jesus’ measurement. And Jesus’ measurement is given to you. His measurement, His non-judgment, His forgiveness is “the good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, [and] put into your lap.” Always more of that for you. Seems as if there’s no end to it! Forgiveness of sins, mercy, not guilty delivered to you again and again and again—your whole life through!
Jesus sets up Baptism that is “for the forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 2) He wants there to be preachers who will “preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His Name.” (Luke 24) He sends His men out promising: “If you forgiven anyone his sins, they are forgiven.” (John 20) “My body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” So also His Word! He prays, “Sanctify them in Your Truth; Your Word is Truth!” Sanctify, “make holy,” is just another synonym for “forgive.” From the Font to your Bibles, from the Absolution to the Supper of His Body and Blood—Judge Jesus delivers Calvary’s judgment to you. Forgiven, innocent, not guilt—NOT JUDGED. That’s you in Jesus, baptized into Him, trusting Him.
“Running over” he says. A running-over measure will be placed into your lap. Running over to others. The Father mercies you in Jesus, forgives you in Jesus. Judge Jesus is your teacher, you His disciple. Baptized to be that. In His Mercy the Father makes you a new creation there. Creates you to be “merciful” as He is merciful toward you. The measurement isn’t just a gift FOR YOU, given you as a gift for yourself. His forgiveness measurement is the judgment He gives you to use on others. To mercy them as you have been mercied. To forgive as you have been forgiven. Mercied and forgiven in JESUS. To deliver to sinners forgiveness for the sins that the Lord says are sins.
But if you’d rather stick with judge not stick, well, then, in that unbelief, in that rejection of the Lord’s mercy for other’s through you, you reject the Lord’s mercy FOR YOU. Then you will be stuck holding your sins, just like you want others to be stuck with theirs.
An often misused text today. A misused sermon of Jesus. Misused by others. Misused by you, too. But Jesus speaks to you today. He speaks not of judgment, but of forgiveness. Forgiveness for others through you, because IN JESUS, YOU AREN’T JUDGE. Only in Him, His death and resurrection, only through Him showering it upon you: Baptism, Scripture, Preaching, Absolution from the Pastor, Forgiveness from you, the Supper of His Body and Blood. IN JESUS, baptized into Him, believing in Him, YOU AREN’T JUDGED.
INI + AMEN.