Summary: Jesus teaches to judge by truth not by appearance
“Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. 22 “For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? 24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
There is something I’d like to bring out to you before we get into our text today that might be easily missed, but I think it makes a helpful point for us to consider.
Chapter 6 of John’s gospel says in verse 4 that the Passover was at hand at the time Jesus miraculously fed the 5000 in Galilee. You may remember that the next day following that miraculous feeding, Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Capernaum and gives His Bread of Life discourse, at the end of which He loses most of His followers. He makes difficult statements. He obviously isn’t going to feed their stomachs again like He did the day before, but now He likens His body to bread and says that people must eat His body and drink His blood, and they grumble against Him and turn from following Him.
So now Jesus has His 12 disciples, and if there are any others we aren’t told about them. However the wording of His question to the 12 in chapter 6 verse 67, when He asks “You do not want to go away also, do you?” seems to indicate that they were the only ones left.
In any case, Jesus has lost the popularity He had with the multitudes when He was healing them and feeding them, and He probably has a lot more free time on His hands.
Now look at chapter 7 verse 2 and you’ll see that John says the Feast of Booths was at hand. So what does this tell us?
Well, Passover is in the Spring of the year. For us it would fall somewhere around the last part of April and the first part of May. For the Jews it was the month of Nissan, the 14th day.
The Feast of Booths is a Fall feast, and it took place around mid October of each year. So presumably, for about 5 months and maybe closer to 6, Jesus has been in Galilee just waiting for the Father’s timing. Now of course it would be foolish to say that Jesus was doing nothing. I don’t mean to imply that He was wandering the hillsides of Galilee moping because He lost His congregation.
But the text of the Gospel makes it pretty clear that the year of His favor with the people was over, and the folks in Jerusalem wanted Him dead, so He is now in sort of a waiting mode, whatever He might be doing in Capernaum or wherever it was He spent those months.
So Christian, don’t get depressed or distressed or downhearted when it seems like God has you on hold. If you belong to Him He has His plan for you and you will be plugged in where and when He needs you. That means very different things for different people, but we all serve the same God who does not change and who knows the number of hairs on our head.
So pray and be patient, work when you see work to do, and while you make your plans He will direct your steps.
Now the title of my sermon is “Judging Righteously”, but we’re going to spend a large bulk of our time looking at three groups of people who judged Jesus unrighteously, before we get to look at the counsel of Jesus to judge righteously – or rightly.
I may be getting a little ahead of myself here, but I want to draw your attention to verse 24. Jesus is talking, and we’ll get a more in depth look at His response to the people, but for now look at the wording of verse 24.
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
That word that is translated ‘appearance’ in this verse is used only a couple other times in the New Testament. It is ‘optis’, so you can imagine that it has a connection to our word ‘optic’ or ‘optical’, and in other places it is translated as ‘face’, or ‘countenance’.
As it is translated here though, and in the context in which Jesus uses it, I think you’ll see that He employs this term in reaction to the various forms of unrighteous judging we’ll witness in these groups.
In other words, Jesus is telling them that they shouldn’t judge according to the over all impression they have of someone that is based upon their preconceived notions, but that they should seek the truth in the situation and draw their conclusions on the facts.