googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Jesus Before the Bema Seat

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jesus Before the Bema Seat

I very occasionally teach an adult Sunday school class. Recently, I taught a lesson on the Judgment of Believers – often called the “Bema Seat Judgment.” This is when believers stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and have their works judged. The term “judgment seat” comes from the Greek word, “βήμα” (bēma). While I was preparing for the lesson, I did a search to see how many times the word βήμα is used in the Bible. It is used 10 times (in various forms): 8 times in the epistles and twice in the gospels. The two times it is used in the gospels (Matthew 27:19 and John 19:13), it refers to the same event which is the judgment of Jesus before Pilate.

Here is the account from Matthew in context (Matthew 27:19-24):

When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat [βήμα], his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

I thought it was interesting that Jesus Himself was once judged before the Bema seat. We know the outcome, of course; He was ultimately sentenced to be crucified. However, note carefully what Pilate said about Him. He said that Jesus was a “just person” who had done no evil. In John 19:6, Pilate is quoted as saying, “I find no fault in him at all.” The accusation board Pilate wrote to be placed over Jesus said only that He was “King of the Jews.” Was that the worst that could be said about Him? Pilate might as well have written, “Savior of the world.”

It's significant that Jesus was found to be without guilt. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If Jesus had been guilty of any sin, He would have been deserving of death. If He had been deserving of death, He could not have given His life as the payment for our sins since He would have had to die for His own sins. But He was innocent. He was the lamb without blemish – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Before we stand before the Judgment Seat, it was necessary for Him to stand before the judgment seat. It is by His obedience that we are made righteous (Romans 5:19). Praise God!!

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