34 Then Peter began to speak. “I now realize how true it is that God treats everyone the same,” he said. 35 “He accepts people from every nation. He accepts anyone who has respect for him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel. It is the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened all through the area of Judea. It started in Galilee after John preached about baptism. 38 You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Jesus went around doing good. He healed all who were under the devil’s power. God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by nailing him to a cross. 40 But on the third day God raised him from the dead. God allowed Jesus to be seen. 41 But he wasn’t seen by all the people. He was seen only by us. We are witnesses whom God had already chosen. We ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people. He told us to tell people that he is the one appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets tell about him. They say that all who believe in him have their sins forgiven through his name.” 44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 Some Jewish believers had come with Peter. They were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 They heard them speaking in languages they had not known before. They also heard them praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can keep these people from being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
The apostle Peter is experiencing a pivotal moment here as he comes to the realisation that the gospel is not just for the Jews but for all the nations. This is exciting news for the group of Gentiles that he was speaking to at that time (and, of course great news for us here today too).
As I read this passage of scripture, a phrase in verse 42 stood out to me. Peter says “He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead”.
Judge? I would have expected Jesus to command the disciples to preach that He is the saviour of the world – not judge. God as our judge is not exactly a popular concept – especially not to our current generation. It’s very tempting to try and leave it out of the picture when we talk about Jesus, but it’s clear that we are not meant to do that.
Jesus reveals Himself in many ways in the bible – saviour, healer, shepherd, and much more. But if I am to fully embrace Jesus for all that He is, I need to also embrace Him as judge of all the world.
The idea of any type of judgement from God gets a bit of a bad rap these days, but without it there is no right and wrong- everyone can just do whatever evil they want with no consequences.
As part of my faith I choose to trust that Jesus is perfect in all His ways, including His judgement. His judgment will be completely in line with His character- all knowing, all loving, and absolutely just. I may not understand how It will all work out, but I trust the One who is perfectly just.
Written by Shelley Witt