14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
I really like how Jesus regularly challenges the judgements people made about him. So much of it was around the Law and their understanding of it. When the crowd was against what he did, he responded by saying: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement” (v24).
The actions that we see don’t always reflect the motives for what was done.
For Jesus, the “why” was more important than “what”. The heart is more important than the action. For the crowd, they saw the “what”, the action but didn’t know why Jesus did the things he did. They were so bound up in observing the Law that they lost sight of God, who is more interested in our heart than our actions.
We will make mistakes, some small, some really big, but what matters to God is our heart.
It’s the same with regrets. I have been challenged recently about a few things that I regret, things that happened quite a while ago. All I can remember is the result, and I remember what went wrong, and wish I could somehow fix those mistakes, but I can’t. What I can do, is remember why I did what I did. Did I set out to hurt someone? No, absolutely not. But reflecting, I can say that I did the best I could for everyone.
To “judge correctly” as Jesus says, don’t forget to look beneath the surface, also look at the motives, whether it is for someone else or even for yourself.
Father, help us not to be quick to judge, but to look beneath the surface to make a right judgement, whether that is for someone else, or even ourselves. Better than a judge, you are a good father to us. I am thankful that our hearts are more important to you than anything else.
Written by Andrew Martin