Jesus is God, Savior, and Judge
The author of the Apocalypse, John, the apostle, quoted Jesus, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13 NIV), and thereby equating Himself to God. God had said the same about Himself in Revelation 1:8. Also, John wonderfully described Jesus as the Savior, saying, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Rev. 1:5b-6 NIV). Yet, probably the most extensive theme running throughout the Apocalypse is of all the very many judgments of Jesus.
Jesus Is Always Judging
The seals, trumpets, and bowls in Revelation depict the regular outpouring of God’s wrath in judgment upon the peoples of the earth. The manifestations of the beast and false prophet are shown to be judged too, along with Satan, who, though already been judged, is shown to finally be judged.
And, though God’s wrath was poured out on His Son, nevertheless, Jesus is shown to judge the “seven churches,” which by implication are all His churches of every generation, to discipline them.
Jesus Judges Churches
In the face of popular Christian belief and sentiment, we read in the book of Revelation of Jesus threatening His churches with judgment. Consider how He said:
“18To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
. . . I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds” (Rev. 2:18-23).
Objection: Jesus said, “I have not come to judge . . .”
Response: True, but Jesus spoke those words in the context of His initial visitation. Thereafter, Peter wrote, “it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).
Objection: Christ has been judged guilty so that those who receive Him can freely come before God.
Response: True, nevertheless, Jesus judges even His own who do not walk in His ways to discipline them, so that God is reverenced in His Church. The judgment of physical death came to the Christian couple, Ananias and Saphira, for lying to the Spirit (Acts 5:1-10). Sickness and death came upon those who did not take of the Lord’s Supper with the right heart. Paul writes,
“27So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 1:27‑32).
James writes to Christians:
“4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:4-10).
In closing, consider God’s goodness in sparing you His wrath and disciplining you as a child. The author to the Hebrews writes,
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son’” (Heb. 12:5-6).