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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 28, 2016
Judging with Righteous Judgment
Turn to John 7 and follow along as I read our Scripture text for study this morning.
1 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. 2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. 3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him. 6 So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. 7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8 “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” 9 Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. 10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. 11 So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” 12 There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” 13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. 14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” 21 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.”
We examined verses 1-10 last week, but I wanted to read it again this week to set the context. We have spent a long time studying Jesus’ Galilean ministry from the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Jesus has not been to Jerusalem since the previous Passover about 6 months earlier. It is now Autumn and time for the Feast of Booths, one of the three feasts in the Jewish calendar in which males were supposed to appear before the Lord. The other two are the Feast of Unleavened bread (Passover) and Feast of Weeks (Deuteronomy 16:16). The question that was in the minds of many people including Jesus’ brothers, which Matthew 13:55 names for us – James, Joseph, Simon and Judas – was when He would go?
At this point in time Jesus’ brothers believed that Jesus was a worker of miracles and perhaps a significant prophet, but they did not yet believe He was the promised Messiah, the son of God, come to save people from their sins. They would not believe that until after the Resurrection (Acts 1:14). They point out what they think is an inconsistency in Jesus and seek to persuade Him that He needed to leave the back country of Galilee and go to Jerusalem for the Feast so that He could do His works there and show Himself to the world. In their minds, Jesus had to gain popular acclaim and a massive following to accomplish His goals. That would be true if Jesus was seeking to become a political leader that would lead a revolt against Rome and throw off its yoke, but that was not Jesus’ goal.
Jesus points out to them that His time had not yet fully come. They could go to Jerusalem without consequence because they had not garnered the hatred of the world by testifying that its deeds are evil. The Jewish religious leaders had already made plots to murder Jesus because He did not keep their traditions and His teachings were contrary to their own and exposed their sin and self-righteousness. He told them to go, but He would stay in Galilee longer.
After His brothers left, Jesus did travel with His disciples to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths. That feast lasts seven days and Jesus will arrive sometime after it had started. Jesus is trying to avoid public attention as much as possible and so purposely delayed to travel more secretly. As we saw last week in our study of the parallel passages in Matthew 8 and Luke 9, there were still others also traveling to Jerusalem, but it would have been much less that if He had gone up with His brothers. Along the way, Jesus took advantage of the opportunities to teach about His purpose and the sacrifices that would need to be made to follow Him. I covered that last week, so I will only remind you of those briefly today. (See: The Purpose and Cost of Following Jesus)
Jesus’ purpose was to seek and save sinners, not destroy them (Luke 9:56). Those who are followers of Christ, Christians, must have the same purpose. That is why our message is one of warning combined with the hope of salvation through faith in Jesus and not condemnation. We preach the gospel pleading for people to repent and receive God’s forgiveness through Christ. We are not to be like the self-righteous Pharisees who condemned those who did not live up to their own standards.
The cost of following Jesus is high for it means that you will need to trust Him to both lead and provide for you as you serve Him. Your will must become subservient to His will, and you must value His kingdom over what the world offers. Fame, fortune, power and relationships including family must be sacrificed as needed. Jesus is moving forward, and you cannot follow Him if you must stay back to hold on to those things.
We return to John 7 this morning to pick up the story when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem.
Anticipation of Jesus – John 7:11-13
Verses 11-13 describes the atmosphere in Jerusalem as the people anticipated Jesus coming for the feast. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
John often uses the term “the Jews” to refer to the Jewish religious leaders – the scribes, Pharisees and chief priests. They were actively looking for Jesus to arrive, and their intentions were not good ones as John already pointed out back in verse 1. They were seeking to kill Him. Jesus would confront them on this very point after He arrived. The general population was also expecting Jesus to come and were actively talking about it among themselves.
Sukkot, translated as The Feast of Booths or Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16) and also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16) was held on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishri, which would be mid-October for us. It was held five days after the Day of Atonement and occurred at the end of harvest (Exodus 34:22) and lasted for one week (Leviticus 23:34). It is an important celebration in the Jewish nation which combined a thanksgiving festival with many important reminders of their heritage. For example, it was called the Feast of Booths because they were to make booths or tents out of branches and leaves and live in them for that week as a reminder of God’s care for them in bringing them out of bondage in Egypt and providing for them throughout the wilderness wanderings before they entered the promised land (Leviticus 23:39-43). I will point out more of these specific commemorations in the weeks to come for Jesus will be using them to demonstrate truths about Himself. For now, it is just important to be clear that this was a feast that would be attended by those who were devout in trying to follow after God. That is a major reason everyone is expecting Jesus to come.
The word translated as “grumbling” or “complaining” (goggusmo;V / gongusmos) refers to murmuring or talking in low tones to avoid being overheard and usually with a sense of disappointment or dissatisfaction. The subject matter was the nature of Jesus. The people were arguing going back and forth about whether Jesus was a good man or a deceiver of some sort, yet no one in the crowds would speak out loud because of their fear of the religious leaders. That says a lot about the power of these Jews over the people. If they did not like what you were saying and condemned you as being contrary to the Law of Moses, or at least their own twisted view of it, they could ban you from the Temple and synagogues. In that culture it would be a banishment from nearly all social life as well. You would instantly be an outcast of society. So though Jesus was a great topic of discussion among the people, their conversations were kept quite and private to keep the Jews from hearing what they were saying. The result was that confusion continued to reign among the people.
Astonished at Jesus – John 7:14-15
14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and [began to] teach. Jesus arrives sometime during the middle of the feast without fanfare or any attention drawn to Himself. He simply shows up and goes about His ministry as He had been doing in Galilee the previous year and half. He goes to the temple and begins to teach which prompts a response from the religious leaders.
15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” The word translated as “astonished” or marveled” (qaumavzw / thaumaz ) comes from a word meaning, “wonder,” “amazement,” or “surprise.” They could not understand how Jesus could teach the way He did when He had not been a student at any of the rabbinic schools. In other words, “how could Jesus teach this way when He does not have credentials from the right schools?” The specific manner in which they stated the question was meant to disparage or belittle Jesus. The NKJV translates this more literally, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” They stated their question as if surprised that Jesus even knew how to read for Himself.
Answer of Jesus, Round 1 – John 7:16-18
Jesus ignored their comment and went straight to the heart of the issues. A good practice to remember when you are in an argument with someone. Don’t get side tracked even by personal criticism. 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My teaching is not mine, but His that sent me.
The teaching of the Jews was dependent upon the traditions and interpretations that had been built up based upon the teachings of previous Rabbis. They relied on both ancient and more recent writings and commentaries as they argued back and forth about doctrine. That is still true today not only among Jewish scholars, but many Christian ones too. While there is wisdom in consulting the thoughts of sage men of the past and present, there is also danger of substituting the teachings of men for the revelation of God. It happened then and it still happens today. It is good to read commentaries, but only after you have done your own study and only to help you better understand the meaning of the Scripture within its historical and grammatical context. Do not assume that because the person has a doctorate or held a prestigious post or had a large ministry that they are correct, for even good commentators can have bad days when they promote their bias instead of what the text actually teaches.
Jesus is direct in claiming that His teaching came directly from the one that sent Him and therefore undiluted by human speculations and twisting of the law to make it fit into man’s desires as they did. Jesus did not need to attend the rabbinic schools because He was not teaching the wisdom of the rabbis. He could teach as He did because He received His doctrine straight from the One that revealed Himself in the Scriptures. That is why He could teach with authority, explain the Scriptures properly and make them understandable to people. But Jesus did not stop there. He went on to confront them directly about their inability to understand and receive what He was teaching.
John 7:17, “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or [whether] I speak from Myself. If they were willing to do the will of God, then they would very easily know whether Jesus was speaking on His own or truly from God. This is still true today.
Many people who hear or read about Jesus will still reject His claims. Why? Primarily because they do not like His message. They are looking for teaching that will match what they want to hear. Paul gives a warning in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 that applies directly to us today, “for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” They do not recognize truth from God because they do not want truth.
Those who seek truth will find Jesus for He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Those who know the truth quickly recognize what teaching comes from God and what does not. One of means of discerning that is whether the person is speaking from their own wisdom and authority or from God’s. Jesus elaborates on this point in verse 18.
18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” This a practical and obvious test. A person who is speaking what is from God will seek God’s glory in what he says and how he says it. Those who speak for themselves want to gain personal glory by what they say and how they say it. Notice how many cult leaders and those who are aberrant either name their ministry after themselves or make their name a prominent feature of it. They also tend to quickly copyright their material and charge large fees for what they do because it is about getting what they want. Those who want God’s glory make Him and His message prominent and desire to see any work they do worth anything made available as widely as possible. It actually costs us over $100 per month to make the work done here available through the internet free of charge to those who use it. We gladly grant copyright usage to those who want to glorify God in the same way and can use our material to do so.
If Jesus had been someone who promoted Himself as His brothers had challenged Him to do, then there would be validity to some of the accusations of the Jews made against Him. But Jesus never promoted Himself or even spoke based on Himself. When He was accused of doing such, it was simply the projection of the accuser. Jesus always sought the glory of the Father and taught only what the Father revealed. He is true and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Antagonism Toward Jesus – John 7:19-20
Jesus now goes further and points out the contrast between Himself and them. Jesus consistently followed the Father’s will in humble obedience. The Jews who were opposing Him sought their own will even when it violated the Mosaic Law which they claimed so vehemently to follow. 19 “Did not Moses give you the Law, and [yet] none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
These Jews claimed to be the experts and keepers of the Mosaic Law, but Jesus points out directly that they violate it and gives them a very specific example. They were plotting to murder Him in direct violation of the sixth commandment given to Moses in Exodus 20:13, “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” They had actually been plotting it for well over a year after Jesus had healed a man on a Sabbath Day (John 5:18). It was a conspiracy that grew not long after that to include the Herodians when Jesus healed another man on a Sabbath Day (Mark 3:4-6). This fact proved they did not receive Jesus’ teaching because they were not interested in doing the will of God.
Please note that in verses 15 and 16 that Jesus is specifically responding to the Jews. However, there is a large mixture of pilgrims in the Temple because of the Feast of Booths and they hear what Jesus is saying to the Jews. Some in the crowds are hostile toward Jesus and some are not. The confusion within the crowd becomes apparent in verse 20, “The multitude answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?”
As is often the case, the common people are not aware of what their leaders are actually plotting. Often there are those that are surprised or disbelieving when the truth comes out. This same general truth is exhibited in our own day all the time whenever a new scandal breaks out about some politician or celebrity. There are always those that can’t believe what has been revealed and they become defensive. Many of these people present in the Temple are from far away and they are shocked at what Jesus says. They had been taught to respect the religious leaders as being pious and godly so they are having a hard time believing Jesus’ accusation against them. Those who were already hostile toward Jesus are now indignant that He would say such a thing. They respond by accusing Him of having a demon because they view the accusation as false and evil. They may have been innocently unaware of what the leaders were already plotting, but they were responsible for their own responses. Jesus was well aware that in six months some of these same people would be shouting, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!”
Answer of Jesus, Round 2 – John 7:21-23
Jesus does not back down. Instead, He lays out the evidence of when this plot against Him began. 21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. 22 “On this account 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 that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on [the] Sabbath?
The event Jesus is referring to is what John recorded in 5:1-18 when Jesus healed the man at Bethesda who had been lame for thirty-eight years. Jesus had healed the man on a Sabbath day and told the man to pick up his mat and walk. When the Jews saw the man carrying the mat, they became outraged that he was so flagrantly breaking their Sabbath laws. When they found out it was Jesus that told him to do this, they ignored the miracle and attacked Jesus for breaking their Sabbath laws. Jesus was direct with them both then and in this passage that He had full authority to do this miracle on a Sabbath for it was not breaking God’s command. In fact, Jesus had used the opportunity to proclaim that He was in fact the Son of God and that was why He had such authority. From that time on they had been plotting His death (5:18). In this passage, Jesus brings their attention back to that event and then goes on to give them a fuller explanation of the Sabbath using their own practices as the illustration.
First, Jesus reminds them that the law of circumcision predated Moses and went back to the practice of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 17:9-14). He also pointed out that they themselves would circumcise a baby on the Sabbath. In Leviticus 12:3 Moses codified that the practice of circumcision was to be performed on the 8th day after birth. If that happened to fall on the Sabbath, the baby was still to be circumcised.
If these Jews were consistent, they would have seen that this was breaking their Sabbath practices for it was performing a medical procedure and therefore work. But they were not consistent. They did properly understand that they would have to suspend their own Sabbath regulations in order to keep the requirement of the Mosaic Law to circumcise on the eighth day. They correctly understood that their own Sabbath traditions and practices had to be subject to the Law itself in this case. Jesus uses this against them by pointing out that He was keeping the Mosaic commandments that were superior to the regulations of tradition that they had created.
Circumcision was a rite of identification of the Jewish baby boy with his covenant heritage with God. It did not make the child right with God, but it was a starting point of bringing that child into a proper relationship with God the Father, for it was also an act of ceremonial cleansing for the child. How then could they be so upset with Jesus when He did more than what circumcision could do and made the entire man well? The man’s body had been healed and also implied is that this man’s soul had also been cleansed. Even if they did not understand that, they could have seen that the physical healing allowed the man to join in the Temple worship again. Did they really have just cause for being so angry with Jesus that they wanted to kill Him?
Assessment of Jesus – John 7:24
Jesus concludes by His assessment of what they were doing and challenged them to correct it, 24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” We will look at their response to this challenge next week, but for this week I want to apply that challenge to all of us.
The multitude had wrongly accused Jesus and judged Him to have a demon because the religious leaders gave the appearance of being godly according to the traditions they had taught the people about what it meant to be godly. These same religious leaders had rejected the teachings of Jesus because they were judging Him by appearance of those same man made traditions. The appearance of something can look good, and especially so when the standard of good has been set to match that appearance, but if the standard is wrong, then the perceived appearance is false. (I think of this in terms of the fashion industry. Designers create a standard for a fashion line and then declare that the new clothes they make and sell appear fashionable because they meet the standard they created. That is why so many “high fashion” clothes are so bizarre and ugly).
For those of you who have yet to place your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation from your sin, this is a challenge for you to properly consider Jesus’ claims. Righteous judgment is concerned with truth, not appearances. How well have you considered Jesus’ claims? How well do you know the truth? Are you judging Jesus based on your own limited understanding of the world or perhaps the teaching of someone else? Are you striving to find your own way to heaven and rejecting Jesus statement that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6)? Perhaps you struggle with Jesus’ claim to be God in human flesh or perhaps God appears unfair to you? Do you appear to be good to yourself? What is the truth? Are you going to make your decisions based on appearances or will you strive to go beyond the surface and discover the truth and then respond accordingly? God will not judge you based upon appearance, but upon the very deeds you have done. It will not be a matter of how good or bad you were according to any standard set by man, but of whether you are guilty of breaking any of the commandments God has given. The only hope of forgiveness of sin is by faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For those of who have placed your faith in Jesus, you must also be careful, for it is easy to judge others based on appearance instead of truth. That is true in your relationship with the Lord and with others. Be careful of judging the Lord’s goodness to you by whether you get what you want or not. Like a loving parent, God your Father gives you what you need, not what you want, and sometimes what you need is not at all what you want.
Also, you must be careful of judging other people by appearance. There is often much more than meets the eye. Learn to pursue truth wherever it takes you even when don’t like it and it takes a lot of time. And also remember to practice all the one another commands including being kind, patient and forgiving when you are wronged.
Sermon Notes: Judging with Righteous Judgment
Jesus’ brothers think He should go to Jerusalem to do His works _____________and gain a larger following
Jesus’ ____________was not yet fully come – His brothers could go without Him.
Jesus went to the feast late so that He could avoid ___________attention
Jesus’ purpose was to seek and __________sinners – that is to be the purpose of His followers
The cost of following Jesus is __________- your will becomes subservient to His will
Anticipation of Jesus – John 7:11-13
“The Jews” = the Jewish ____________leaders
Sukkot = Feast of Booths / Tabernacles, Feast of Ingathering occurring for 7 days in mid ____________
goggusmo;V / gongusmos = grumbling / complaining / murmuring – speaking softly to _____being overheard
The people were arguing about Jesus’ identity – but would not speak openly out of __________of the Jews
Astonished at Jesus – John 7:14-15
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem without drawing attention to Himself – then goes to the Temple to ________
Jesus’ teaching amazed the Jews, but they ______________Him questioning how He had learned
Answer of Jesus, Round 1 – John 7:16-18
The teaching of the Jews was dependent upon the ________and interpretations that had developed over time
It is good to consider the wisdom of others, but do not __________the teaching of men for God’s revelation
Jesus’ teaching came straight from God the Father ___________by human speculation and scripture twisting
A primary reason people reject Jesus’ teaching is that they _______________His message – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Those speaking for God will seek ___________glory instead of their own
Jesus sought ____________glory while the Jews sought their own
Antagonism Toward Jesus – John 7:19-20
These Jews claimed to be the experts and keepers of the Mosaic Law yet purposely ______________it
The multitude is a _______________of those favorable, neutral and antagonistic toward Jesus
Common people are often unaware of what their _______do and plot – and skeptical of the truth about them
Answer of Jesus, Round 2 – John 7:21-23
John 5:1-18 records Jesus healing a lame man on the _____________and the Jews plotting to kill Him for it
Circumcision, which predates Moses, will be carried out on the eighth day even if it falls on a ___________
The Jews were _________________in the application of their Sabbath restrictions
They were ______________angry over Jesus’ violating their Sabbath restrictions by healing a man
Assessment of Jesus – John 7:24
They had wrongly judged Jesus because they used ____________ standards as the basis
Righteous judgment is concerned with ____________, not appearances.
Jesus’ claims must be judged by ______________, not perceptions
God will judge based on your ___________, not appearance
The Lord’s goodness is not determined by whether you get what ______________- He gives what you need
Learn to pursue __________wherever it takes you even if you don’t like it and it takes a lot of time
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times “The Jews” is used. Talk with your parents about why “the Jews” judged Jesus unrighteously.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon. Why did Jesus’ brothers want Him to go to Jerusalem? Why did Jesus tell them to go without Him? Why did Jesus go later? What lessons did Jesus teach His disciples along the way? What is the cost of following Jesus? What has it cost you so far? Why were the people arguing about Jesus? Why did fear of the Jews keep them from arguing openly? What is Sukkot? When was it to be celebrated? For how long? For what purpose? Why did the teaching of Jesus astonish the Jews? Why did they belittle His education / lack of education? Why did Jesus ignore their disparaging remark? What was the basis of the teaching of the Jews? What are the benefits and dangers of consulting commentaries when studying God’s word? How can you minimize the dangers while still reaping the benefits? What is the source of Jesus’ teaching? How did that make His teaching superior? Why would a desire to do God’s will also result in knowing if a teaching is from God or not? What are some of the major reasons people reject Jesus? What will people find if they honestly pursue truth? Can a person who seeks to gain fame for himself be sent by God? Explain. Did Jesus ever seek His own glory? What are some of the ways the Jews violated the Mosaic Law they claimed to keep? What different kinds of people were in the multitudes? Why did some of them respond so strongly to Jesus’ claim the Jews were seeking to kill Him? What miracle is Jesus referring to in John 7:21? Why did that result in the Jews seeking to kill Him? How did their practices concerning circumcision demonstrate they were hypocritical in being upset for healing a man on the Sabbath? What did Jesus mean to not judge according to appearances? How do people typically do that? How can a person judge with righteous judgment? What must a non-Christian do to judge Jesus with righteous judgment? How do Christians at times judge God by appearances instead of righteous judgment? What is the solution to this error?
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