When the time for the Feast of Tabernacles had come and Jesus’ brothers asked him to show himself to the world publicly, Jesus told them that His time was not yet come. Jesus’ brothers went on ahead to the feast without Jesus, and the Bible says that at this time “even his own brothers did not believe in him.” Jewish leaders were looking for Jesus and among the crowds of people at the Feast of Tabernacles people were talking. The Bible said that there was widespread whispering about Jesus. Some said that Jesus was a good man while others believed He wasn’t good and deceived people. No one would, however, speak out publicly for fear of the Jewish leaders. It seems like some things never change.
About half way through the eight day festival, Jesus did go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and began teaching in the temple courts. The Jews there were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They wondered how He had so much learning without being taught. You see, Jesus, was not of the elite or powerful. He made his entrance in the manger of a barn and by all accounts wasn’t wealthy or part of the elite in society.
In reply to their questions as to how Jesus knew so much Jesus said, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me. 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. 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. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
Jesus goes on to say that because he did one miracle in healing a man, they were all amazed. Jesus reminded them that by the law of Moses newborn boys are circumcised on the Sabbath (even though it is a declared day of rest) so that the law of Moses may not be broken, yet they were angry with Jesus for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath. Jesus goes on to say, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
In today’s society, people are all about following the latest or greatest popular person. How many followers someone has is a thing of status. Jesus, like some today, was somewhat a phenomenon. He had many followers who were fascinated by Him. He was unusual and “amazing” to some and someone to be feared by others. People throughout the region were talking about Jesus. The powerful in politics and religion were watching for Him. Some feared Him and His influence on the people since the things He did and the words He spoke did not match up with their belief system and expectations. Some feared Jesus would show them to be the fraud’s they were. Some feared that He would take away their power. Some just didn’t know, but they still distrusted Him.
We have this same situation happening today in our political and religious world. The common man and woman on the streets are discussing whether someone should be able to have presence or platform from which to speak. Publishers and politicians are banning speech that they don’t like or agree with in order to cancel their effect on others. Like the threats against Jesus, some are calling for the death of those they do not like or agree with on issues. Today, Dr. Seuss’ own publishers decided that some of his works need to be removed from the public square. Why? What is behind all the censorship of thoughts, ideas, and words? Can we no longer stand to see the truth of history? Can we not acknowledge a viewpoint that isn’t in lock step with our own?
The Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is a bold statement. It is how the Word of God begins. We must each decide if this is a true or a false statement. We will choose to believe this is right or wrong. In the same way, Jesus challenged those in the temple courts over 2000 years ago to check out what He said. Jesus said that anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether His teaching comes from God or is from him only. Jesus said that those that knew the will of God would be able to verify that He spoke on behalf of His Father who is God almighty.
There is a challenge today for the Christian and the non Christian to decide whether what Jesus said is true or false. We must each decide whether what he preached was right or wrong. Jesus confronted those in the temple courts about their inconsistent enforcement of the law of Moses. Do we today see the inconsistencies in how things are decided? Do we see the contradiction in our own conversations and behaviors between how we treat one person or idea over another?
Jesus admonished those listening to him in the temple courts saying, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” I think this advice needs to be repeated today. What we see is not always as it appears. The only way to know for sure what is true is to seek the truth in the consistent message revealed throughout the Holy Word. Jesus tells us that those who choose to follow God’s will – will know whether what Jesus preached and taught was of God or not. How is that? It is because they will see and come to know the will of the Father written in the Word of God.
When we judge things today, do we stack it up against the standard of the Word of God? Do we have the will to do the will of God? Are we judging by mere appearances or seeking to judge rightly? Each of us makes decisions and judgements every day about a myriad of things including one another. Are we judging rightly as the Righteous Judge and Lord would want us to do, or are we jumping to conclusions without all the evidence?
Do we give people the grace of time? Do we look below the surface of appearances to the motives of their movements through life? Have we tried to get to know one another and their circumstances, or do we dismiss people out of hand? Are we willing to walk in someone else’s shoes for just a minute to see what paths they must tread? Are we interested in our fellow man enough to change our point of view to try to see what things look like through their eyes? Has someone “offended” us and unbeknown to them been written off? Do people get a second chance with us? Or a third? Or seventy-seven times? Jesus told Peter to forgive a brother or sister not just seven times in a day, but seven times ten times in a day when they repent. Do we accept those who are sorry and repent for wrongs they do – intentionally or not? Are we so perfect that we can’t stand to put up with any imperfection in those around us? Are we so prideful and pious that we won’t be in the presence of those called pathetic in our society? Do we use our power or position to ‘put out of mind and sight’ those who don’t share our ideas and beliefs? Did we write off a friend because they told us the truth or we felt they were just too much trouble?
Who are we to stand as king of the hill to look down pridefully at anyone? Don’t we, each and every one of us, have our own problems and missteps to overcome? Do we have any charity/love for our fellow man? Will we give it and show it?
Jesus calls us to judge correctly. Can we? Will we? And if we do, I know our God be pleased. Just as Jesus spoke not on his behalf but on the Father’s, can we as Christians and children of God not do the same?
We can, if we will, choose to follow God, and if we will learn His will, we will know that Jesus’ message was true and His ways are right. What an awesome world this could be if we would judge correctly.
Think on these things…
Robin Robbins House©️
The Bible passage reference is from John 7.