We go to the market square to be judged. We encourage listeners to look, listen, consider, reflect, contemplate and … judge. Christ Jesus said, recorded in Matthew 12:37, “by your words you will be judged”. So we call upon Fringe goers to pause, listen and judge. Take into consideration the narrative, the method, passion of delivery, his, as the Army would say, ‘appearance and bearing’. When you are done, make a judgement.
Ah my dear, I hear you say, we are not supposed to judge. By judging we are breaking the cardinal sin, “thou shalt no judge”. Firstly, that verse is addressing hypocrisy, those who accuse others when they are guilty of committing the same felonies, and secondly, John 7:24, instructs us to judge with righteous judgement. Consider, how could you get through your day without judging? If you see someone destitute you may judge him or her worthy of a share of your plenty, if you see a violent drunk you may judge it sensible to avoid them, if you meet someone with views you consider reprehensible you may judge them worthy of your disdain.
The preacher is not the judge. He is not the accuser or the one who condemns. He is there to herald a warning, he arrives as an ambassador with news that despite the gavel having been dropped clemency is still available. Mercy abounds. He informs of the conclusion of the forensic investigation, the trial completion, evidence presented and judgement pronounced. The hearing did not go well for humanity. It found that the blood of Adam is in all, Romans 5:12 and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. It transpires that none is righteous, not one, Romans 3:10. To put it succinctly, we are rotten to the core. The sentence is just, it is reasonable and fair. It is eternal damnation for wilful treason against the eternal Creator.
However, there is good news for terms of clemency have been offered but … they are brutal terms. The Son must die. He must bear the full and perfect wrath of the Father poured out on him for the sins His people. In so doing He satisfies justice, makes propitiation for the otherwise guilty, delivering them from bondage, vindicating, and declaring them innocent. We go out to declare the wonderful Christian doctrine of justification, ‘just-as-I-never-sinned’: 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ took the punishment that His people deserve for their rebellion. We go out to herald this amazing, bewildering, even perplexing news that while we were still rebels, Christ died for the ungodly!, Romans 5:8.
How are these terms secured? They can’t be! There is nothing you can do. No act of contrition or act of faith will buy you this free gift of grace. It cannot be sought, it cannot be bought. It must be received in total surrender to the King. You will die to self that you may receive life. And in your subjection to the will of the Holy Spirit you will be clay in the potter’s hand, Isaiah 64:8. By turning with your heart and mind, with an humble and contrite spirit, confessing your wretchedness and believing upon the Lord Jesus you may have life and life in abundance, John 10:10.
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.”