Son of Man – Judge of the World

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One of the “divine prerogatives” (divine rights) that Jesus receives from the Father is the right to judge the world. This is made clear in John 5:19-30, where Jesus states that he has the power both to give life and to judge:

“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22, ESV). “And he (the Father) has given him (the Son) authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27).

Here are two interesting observations to be drawn from this passage:

1) The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 1:36), is the same one who judges – Jesus. This fits into the two advent ministry of Jesus found elsewhere in the New Testament (especially 1 Thess 4:14-5:11 and Heb 9:27-28), in which Jesus comes to the world a first time as sacrificial Savior and a second time (in the future) as conquering King.

2) Jesus explains that the reason he has the authority to execute judgment is because of his identity as the Son of Man (John 5:27). This directs us to Daniel 7:13-14:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

The parallels between John 5 and Daniel 7 are intriguing. Jesus talks about the Father giving all judgment to the Son (John 5:22; 5:27). The same picture emerges in Daniel 7, where the Son of Man is presented with a kingdom by the Ancient of Days. In both cases, all people in the world answer to the Son of Man and his authority. The kingdom given to the Son of Man in Daniel 7 involves dominion over “all peoples, nations, and languages.” Jesus is given “all judgment,” so that “all may honor the Son,” according to John 5:22-23.

What are the implications of Jesus’ right to judge?

1. When we think of the kingdom of God – the kingdom given to the Son of Man in Daniel 7 and the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus in his earthly ministry, we should think of a kingdom that in the end will be displayed in all power and authority. As part of the worldwide recognition of Jesus as King, other kingdoms and powers will be crushed (as in the greater context of Daniel), and allies of those kingdoms will be judged.

2. According to John 3:16-17, Jesus came to the world the first time not to condemn but to offer himself as a sacrifice for his enemies. This offer of peace with the rightful ruler of the world is a demonstration of God’s great love for the world. Now is the season for declaring allegiance to Christ, now is the time to have sins forgiven through his sacrificial death. The one who will judge is providing the gift and opportunity of resurrection to life rather than resurrection to judgment (John 5:29; Daniel 12:2).

Jesus understood his ministry according to Old Testament categories. There is so much to be gleaned from a careful study of Jesus against this Old Testament context. And there is so much to be gained from trusting in Jesus as the Son of Man, who both offered his life for us and is coming again in glory.

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Filed under Biblical Theology, New Testament, Old Testament

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