Jesus had gone to the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem privately rather than go with His Family. There were some people upset enough to want Him arrested and killed. There were some who thought He was leading people away from Judaism by His teachings, and others who thought He was a good man. But most of them were not vocal because they were afraid of the repercussions for themselves. Their private opinions and their murmurs and whispers didn’t help the situation. Those who thought Jesus was a good man, but didn’t believe or take any action on their belief may as well as agreed with the Pharisees seeking to kill Him. Those who thought He was leading the people astray but kept their complaints to mumbled criticisms were no more influential than those they argued with.
About the middle of the feast Jesus began teaching in the temple. The people listening to Him were amazed. They knew He had not studied but He spoke with knowledge, eloquence, and expertise.
Verses 16-18 read,
“So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
Some people look like really good people but they are not actually pursuing God’s glory. They work toward their own. The Pharisees were like that. They studied the scriptures. They gave exactly the right amount of money. They did everything right in the law except seek God’s will and love. The people were very impressed by their goodness. But their righteousness wasn’t leading anyone to God. They were leading people away from God’s love and His will and straight to Hell. Hosea 6:6 reads,
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offering”
The people couldn’t even recognize God in Jesus. He was supposed to be the focus of their lives. He was right there in front of them, and they didn’t recognize Him. How many people who claim to be Christians have lost the object they are supposed to be following and instead glorify themselves with their goodness or begin following rules and ritual rather than Jesus?
Jesus continued in verse 19.
“Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”
I’m sure of the listeners were offended by His accusation they they didn’t follow the law. Here they were at the Feast of Booths in the temple. They gave money. They kept the Sabbath. They observed the feasts and special days. They were good Jews. But Jesus told them none of them kept the law. Deuteronomy 6:5 reads,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Leviticus 19:34 says,
“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
They were not keeping the law. No one likes to have their flaws pointed out to them, especially if they are quite proud of their perfection. The crowd got so upset they accused Jesus have having a demon and in an effort to put him on the defensive told him he was crazy for thinking people wanted to kill him. Jesus didn’t fall for the goad. He didn’t have to defend Himself or argue about things that would take the light of the Father’s will. Verses 21-24 read,
“Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath. He had done an act of love as God desired. But He was being persecuted for it. The Jews were so careful about obeying the letter of the law that would circumcise on the Sabbath to ensure they didn’t break the law by circumcising a day late. Circumcision was an outward sign of a covenant with God. It was an act that required cutting and pain. What Jesus did was heal, take pain away, and give a man a chance to receive grace and forgiveness. The man’s heart would have been circumcised, it would have been in inward and complete sign of his covenant with God. Rather than change one thing about the man, Jesus had made his whole body well.
Which act is better? Is it better to heal a man and give him new life or circumcise a man? The Jews were judging through eyes of law, rules, and ritual. Their perspective was narrowed to the point that God was not no longer in it. They couldn’t follow God if they had left Him out of their view. Right judgment requires looking at the whole picture. Jesus was trying to open their eyes to the truth. They didn’t like what they were hearing and what it showed them about themselves.
Ask yourself some questions.
1.) Who are you glorifying in your life?
Does your life shine the light on Jesus? Is Jesus being praised by your deeds? Are you getting the acclaim for the good things you do? Are there any signs of your relationship with Jesus to be acclaimed?
2.) Are you following a list of rules and laws or are you following Jesus?
If you were running late on your way to church and you met a drunk, hurt, and lost man that needed help, would you stop, help him, and miss church? Would you say a prayer that someone who has time would stop and help him? Would you be disgusted by his drunkenness and feel he deserves what he is getting? Would you even notice him as you rushed to church?
3.) Are you loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself?
Is your lifestyle one of active and intentional love? Has Christianity become a checklist rather than a relationship?
4.) Are you judging the situation, yourself and others with right judgment?
Is the love of God, His plan, and His sovereignty in the picture? Or are you basing your assessment on appearances? Do you assume the woman leading the church food drive is good and the goth teen who doesn’t go to church is evil?