The modern American version of Easter is filled with new clothes, bunny rabbits, eggs and candy. The biblical version of Easter was a time of judgment, both for Jesus and humankind. The judgment that surrounds the first Easter takes place in four different locations. The name of each of these locations begins with the letter “G,” thus we have the four G’s of judgment. We find the first “G” of judgment as Jesus and His disciples are in the garden of Gethsemane.
Just prior to Gethsemane, Jesus and His disciples had finished the Passover meal. Judas had also left to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Now, in Gethsemane, Jesus judges Himself. The name Gethsemane means “oil press” and thus as the olives would be under great pressure in the press, Jesus would experience a time of deep soul searching. The Gospel of Mark gives us an idea of the great pressure Jesus was experiencing in Gethsemane, “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.” (Mark 14:32-34 KJV) As we enter into another Easter season, and are once again reminded of the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection three days later, we might find our own selves needing to do a little self-judgment.
As the story continues, Jesus is arrested in the garden and taken eventually to Pilate where we find our second “G” of judgment. The judgment seat of Pilate is referred to as Gabbatha, where Jesus will be judged by the world, “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.” (John 19:13) Judgment by the world was a time of great humiliation for Jesus. Jesus’ commitment to do the will of His Father brought harsh judgment from the world. When you make obedience to God the priority of your life, the world will sometimes mock and ridicule you the same way they did Jesus.
The next scene in the drama of the first Easter story brings us to the third “G” of judgment. Jesus is taken to Golgotha where He was ultimately judged by God the Father, “And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull” (Matthew 27:31-33) The world found Jesus guilty of death, but the final Judge of Jesus’ guilt or innocence was God the Father. The entire history of the Jewish sacrificial system had been pointing to the coming of God’s Messiah as the perfect and spotless Lamb of God. Jesus claimed to be that long awaited Messiah. The Father would make the final decision as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah or an imposter that deserved to die.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us, “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:1-6) Had Jesus been an imposter, there would have been no resurrection on the third day. God has judged Jesus and has accepted His death as the purchase price for the sin of the world. Every individual must decide whether or not they will accept the forgiveness of sin that is provided through Jesus’ death.
The final “G” of judgment will not take place until after the Lord Jesus Christ returns in all His Glory. In His Glory, Jesus Becomes the Judge. In His Glory, the final judgment will be set as described in the Book of Revelation, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15, KJV)
You can run from judgment, but you cannot escape judgment, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27, KJV) Have you seriously searched your own soul when it comes to where you will stand at the final judgment?
Dr. Bill Helton is a professor at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville.