Jesus’ words from John 9:39 are rather disturbing, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind”. On the surface, these words seem to contradict what Jesus has said in a couple of other places…
In John 3:17 Jesus says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (ESV). Or again, look at what Jesus says in John 12:47, “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” How do we reconcile these verses with the words of Jesus in John 9:39 or John 5:22: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” (see also 5:27, 5:30ff)?
To understand these two strands, I think we need to understand that neither the redemption of mankind nor the judgment of mankind is Jesus’ ultimate priority. His first priority is to glorify the Father. That is priority number one – every other purpose, every other goal, is subservient to that.
Now certainly the primary way in which Jesus glorifies the Father is by obediently going to the cross to redeem a God’s people. But this redemption is double edged. Jesus comes to die for his sheep and bring salvation to those who believe. This means, on the flipside, that it brings judgment and condemnation to those who do not believe. Here what Bultman says, “This is the paradox of the revelation, that in order to bring grace, it must also give offence, and so can turn to judgment. In order to be grace it must uncover sin; he who resists this binds himself to his sin, and so through the revelation sin for the first time becomes definitive”.
And I want to affirm that Jesus accomplishes his goal of glorifying the Father, both in the redemption of man and in the judgment of man. In man’s redemption, God is glorified as the merciful, gracious, kind, forgiving Savior. In sinful man’s condemnation, God is glorified as a God who keeps his promises (to punish those who do not love him), as a holy God (who cannot suffer to let sin go unpunished), as a just God, even as a wrathful God.
Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory)!