As I sat one morning and pondered the Final Judgment, my thoughts wandered to what it might be like when the books – the books that record my life – are opened before the Great Judge. And Scripture texts cascaded across the images forming in my mind.
I am dead.
I don’t know how I know it, but I am dead. And I stand before the Judgment Seat of God.1 The Accuser2 stands next to me, denouncing me and charging me with the many crimes I’ve committed during my life. Murder. Perversions. Treasons. Rebellions. The litany seems to never end. He cites all of them.
Each in order.
I don’t remember most of them, but my prosecutor holds aloft his dossier of dates and times and places. And with each accusation the memories of my forgotten sins flood my mind. They overwhelm me. With great shame – and fear – I try to push them from my memory, but to no avail.
Then almost from nowhere, He appears – my advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.3
He waits for the accuser to finish. And then He looks soberly at the Judge. “These accusations are all true,” Jesus says. “But Father, I ransomed him with My blood.4, 5 He entered the waters of baptism. He confessed his sins with each offense. 6He followed Me and served Me these many years.7And You promised I would not lose any whom you have given Me.”8
The Judge listens in silence. Then He looks at my Accuser. He looks at me. He looks at my Advocate. He raises His gavel, and I wait for what is about to come next.
“Guilty,” the Judge says with a solemnity I shall forever remember. “I declare you guilty on all counts.”
Panic – unrelenting panic grips me. And then I hear Him add, “But I hereby pardon you of all counts for the sake of my son, Jesus.” 9, 10
His gavel falls to the Bench with a crack that echoes throughout the chambers of heaven and of hell.
Dazed, I look at my Advocate. His eyes smile back. It is true. Gloriously, wondrously true. I am pardoned. Forgiven. Redeemed forever because of the blood of the Lamb.
(All scripture from Revised Standard Version Catholic edition)
2 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Rev 12:10)
3And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
4 And they sang a new song, saying,“Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Rev 5:9)
5 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
6If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
7 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26)
8And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. (John 6:39)
9But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
10 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)