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Righteous Judgment

"And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men" (Mosiah 3:10).

What are "all these things" that are done to bring to pass a righteous judgment?

To summarize from previous five verses (Mosiah 3:5-9), the Lord Omnipotent came into frail flesh and ministered with mighty miracles, healing the sick and disabled, casting out devils and raising the dead. He suffered all of our temptations and our physical and spiritual anguish while never yielding one inch of sacred ground to the Destroyer, never surrendering His dignity and majesty as the Son of God and creator of all things. He was rejected, reviled and crucified, and suffered it that salvation might come to the children of men. And then he rose from the dead and stood to judge the world.

If all of that was done to bring about a righteous judgment, what does that signify about the nature of righteous judgment?

First, it means that there must be a way for the one who is judged to measure up to the bar. There could be no righteousness in universal condemnation, however much it might be our just desserts. No loving Father would consign His children to that. So there is a way "that salvation might come unto the children of men" and it is "through faith on his name" (vs 9). He has overthrown death and hell on our behalf and earned the power to change our very natures and even our history, if we permit Him.

Second, a righteous judgment requires that the judge be deeply and unflinchingly invested in the judged. There must be a personal, deep and sacrificial interest in the actualization, eternal welfare and happiness of the one that is being measured. The judge must be on our side.

Jesus says, "I am your advocate with the Father" (D&C 110:4). And yet the scriptures say, "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). So we have in Jesus a judge who is also our lawyer. Only, unlike in a worldly court of the law, His arguments are not to excuse or obfuscate our bad behaviour. His arguments are His righteousness, the life He sacrificed for us, the blood He shed in our behalf. His judgment is to what extent we have proven willing to accept His arguments, to surrender our hearts to Him, to receive His nature and become His creatures. Are we willing and able to fall at His feet, only to be lifted up into His embrace and ushered into the presence of the Father? Or is His goodness so overwhelming to us that we cannot approach and need to stay at arm's length? Or worse, are we stuck at shrinking and retreating from so bright a light? Is it His light that judges us, while His love advocates on our behalf?

Jesus says in D&C 29: 12 that His Apostles of Jerusalem will "judge the whole house of Israel, even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else." It occurs to me that the 12 have also suffered, bled and died (or in John’s case, remained in ministry for 2000 years) for those they judge. All but John died as martyrs. Is that why -- so they could fully take upon them the name of the Son of God and receive His very nature, so they could be capable of a righteous judgment?

This makes me wonder. The Book of Mormon teaches that the 12 Disciples in the Americas will be entrusted with the judgement of their people, under the 12 Apostles in Jerusalem (1 Nephi 12:9-10). John Taylor, teaching about the hierarchy of judgement with Jesus at the top, then the Twelve of Jerusalem, then the Twelve of the Americas to their peoples, added "It is also further stated that the Saints shall judge the world." (Mediation and Atonement, 1882, 155-57).

When in D&C 29:12, Jesus says the 12 at Jerusalem will judge "as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else," does that mean that no-one who has not loved Him and kept His commandments will have that privilege? Are there tiers of judgment in addition to an hierarchy? Is it possible that the final judgment is in many ways similar to the judgments we progress through in order to enter the celestial room of the temple? Is it like meeting with our bishop who is on our side and wants us to qualify for a temple recommend and works with us, as needed, so that we can meet the criteria; then meeting in a similar manner with our stake president; then presenting our credentials at the recommend desk, and finally, making an accounting before we enter the celestial room? Will we be met at every step by someone who is deeply invested in us, willing to sacrifice in order to help us move forward, insofar as we demonstrate our willingness and readiness to do so?

Meaning to me: The Joseph Smith translation of Matthew 7:2 says "judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment." I too am called to judge righteously. That means that I am not qualified to judge anyone for whom I’m not prepared to suffer, bleed and die. I need to remember that anytime I’m feeling judgemental.

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Mar 30, 2021

Thank you for this post! It struck me all at once a couple of years ago that the people who love us best are the ones who see us most clearly, not impartial strangers. Thank you for this reminder. It reminds me not to try to be objective in my observations about others, but rather to try to see them in all their goodness

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