Jesus – Healing Light or Ruling Judge?
October 13, 2020 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

The more and more we look to Jesus, the clearer our understanding of reality becomes. Jesus is the light of the world; He illuminates God’s kingdom, God’s reality, and exposes the falsity of sin and the ways of this sinful world.

Over and over again, Jesus reveals that God is Creator and that His laws are design laws – truth, love, liberty – and that reality operates upon them. Over and over again, Jesus reveals that God’s kingdom is not imperial, not penal, not legal – that judicial oversight, rule enforcement, is the method of this fallen world.

The world seems consumed today with social justice, with rights, with getting what one believes they are legally entitled to, but always through imposing some new law, some new rule, on others. Jesus was focused on truth, on reality, on freeing people from selfishness and restoring in them God’s living law of love, on healing hearts and minds, and not on making legal rulings.

Going back two thousand years, we find the case of a man who petitioned Jesus to make a legal ruling to help him seek justice in regard to his brother, whom he believed had wronged him. We find the story in Luke 12:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (vv. 13–21 NIV84).

Take a moment to reflect on this story. Ask yourself, What is revealed? Where was the man focused? What did Jesus make the focus?

What type of law determines property inheritance? Why did Jesus not give a legal ruling, acting as a judge or magistrate?

The laws and rules that govern property inheritance are imposed, made-up, the kind of laws sinful humans make. God’s laws do not function this way. It is Satan’s lie that God’s kingdom operates this way, and sadly, far too many Christians agree with Satan and, thus, they seek out a legal authority, a judge, to make a ruling in their favor.

But Jesus denied that He was their judge. Why? Because God’s kingdom doesn’t operate on made-up rules like human governments do.

Jesus didn’t come to the earth to take up a legal issue, and He uses this encounter to again expose the difference between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. The man wanted a legal ruling, but Jesus said that a legal ruling wasn’t what he needed nor what Jesus had come to do.

What was needed? A change to the actual condition of the man’s heart. These two brothers cared more for property than they did for one another. Jesus wanted to restore love into their hearts, to bring them out of this world’s kingdom that seeks to get for self and into the kingdom of God, which seeks to give to others. He made it plain that it doesn’t matter how much earthly wealth one accumulates, if the heart is not healed then all is lost.

This sinful world focuses on self – our rights, our privileges, our inheritance. We want a ruling by someone in authority – a judge, an umpire, a referee, a magistrate, a pastor, a priest, or perhaps a pope. We want someone to make a ruling, tell us the answer, to decide in our favor. But Jesus said He was here to change hearts, not act as judge. He said:

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:47–49 NIV84).

There is a judge, and it is not Jesus. Rather, the judge is “that very word,” the truth, reality itself. Sheep are sheep, and goats are goats; wheat is wheat, and weeds are weeds. A judge doesn’t make a sheep a sheep or a goat a goat; they are what they are. Reality is the judge. Those who reject the words of Jesus – the truth – retain lies about God; they refuse to trust Him and, therefore, they harden themselves in selfishness and fear. They solidify themselves into evil people who hate love, truth, and freedom.

But those who love the truth that Jesus reveals reject the lies of Satan and are won back to trust in God; they open their hearts and experience the indwelling Spirit and have God’s design protocol for life – His living law – written upon their hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10). They are transformed and healed.

Too many people today are jealous of another’s possession, envious of someone else’s achievements, covetous of some other’s station, and they want someone in authority to pass laws to ensure they get what they think is their fair share.

But we must be careful that we are not like this jealous and selfish brother. We don’t want to hear Jesus say to us, “You fool!” We don’t want to be tricked by Satan, tempted by fear and selfishness, into exchanging the riches of God’s kingdom – which is a heart that loves, one that is true, one that respects the individuality and freedoms of others, one that values what God values – for the meager baubles of this world.

Yes – Jesus again reveals the beautiful truth of God’s kingdom of love! So look to Jesus. Fix your eyes upon Him. See Him as Creator, the full revelation of God and God’s kingdom. Understand and embrace His design laws into your heart. Make Him your greatest desire, and the things of this world will lose their power over you – and you will find real peace no matter what the world throws your way.


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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain. In 2022, Dr. Jennings became Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lynchburg, Virginia.