At the day of judgment, what will matter most is not whether we know Jesus, but whether Jesus knows us. Today, R.C. Sproul expounds on the importance of being known intimately by Christ as His redeemed people.
Jesus, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, described a situation that would come to pass in the last day when He said: “Many will come to me and say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not do this in Your name? Did we not do that in Your name?’” And Jesus on that occasion said: “I will say to these people: ‘Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you.’” Now when I looked at that sermon, I called attention to an extremely unusual but at the same time significant cultural form of expression that was contained in Jesus’ warning. He didn’t say, “Many will come to Me in that day and say, ‘Lord, did we not do this in Your name?’” But Jesus portrays those who will come professing to be affectionate toward Him and they will say to Him, “Lord, Lord.” “Lord,” repeated. And some of you remember that on that occasion, I called attention to this unusual but significant Hebraic gesture that we find only about fifteen times in all of sacred Scripture. And that is the custom of addressing somebody by the repetition of their name.
We saw it in the Old Testament when Jacob feared to go with his family into the land of Goshen. And God came and spoke to him, saying: “Jacob, Jacob, don’t be afraid where you go. I will go with you.” Even earlier in the Old Testament record was that poignant moment on Mount Moriah when Abraham laid his son Isaac on the altar and at the last second, God interrupted him and called to him, saying: “Abraham, Abraham, lay not your hand upon your son. For now I know that you trust Me.” Later on in the Midianite wilderness, when God called Moses to the task of leading the people of Israel in the exodus, He spoke to him out of the burning bush, saying, “Moses, Moses.” And throughout the Old Testament, in the midnight summons to Samuel, “Samuel, Samuel.” To which the lad replied, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” When Elijah was taken up to heaven in the chariots of fire, Elisha stood there looking, and he said, “My father, my father.” Or David’s cry of lament at the news of the death of his son when he screamed, “Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom, my son!”
Come to the New Testament. Jesus speaks so tenderly to Martha when she objects to the attention that Jesus is showing to Mary at Lazarus’ home. And He speaks to her and He says, “Martha, Martha. It’s OK,” and so on. Saul on the road to Damascus: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Simon Peter, when Jesus warns of his impending denial, when he said he would never deny Him, Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan would have you and sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you.” And of course, the most dramatic use of the repetition came from the cross itself when Jesus cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Or in His lament over the city, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have taken you to Myself as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.”
Do you see what’s going on here? Every time, the personal form address is used by way of repetition. It communicates an intense and profound sense of personal affection. And Jesus was saying that at the last day, people would come to Him whom He did not know, who did not belong to Him, who would pretend that they belong to Him and would not only name His name, but they would repeat it as if they were on intimate terms with Him. “Lord, Lord, didn’t I preach? Didn’t I teach? Didn’t I give my money?” And Jesus said in this scariest warning of all: “I will say to them: ‘Please leave. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your name. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity.’”
You see why that’s so scary, that Jesus would ever say that? We have jargon in the Christian world where people will say, “Are you saved?” Or another way, they will say, “Do you know Jesus?” That’s not the issue. The issue is not, Do you know Jesus? The issue is, Does Jesus know you? Are we known of Him in that singular redemptive manner that He knows those who are His?