Sunday, March 3, 2019

By What Basis Do You Judge?

14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
20 The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.
23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
26 But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?
27 Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.
28 Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.
29 But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.
30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
32 The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
33 Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.
34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.
35 Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
36 What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
43 So there was a division among the people because of him.
44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
53 And every man went unto his own house. (John 7:14:53)
In this chapter it is interesting that Jesus tells the people, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (v24)  He tells them this because they allow people to be circumcised on the Sabbath to keep the 8-day law, but they had been angry at Him for healing on the Sabbath to make someone completely whole.

Throughout the rest of this chapter, we get to see a variety of opinions people express about Jesus as they try to work out whether He is to be followed or not. We get to see the basis on which they judge Christ. This challenges us to think about how we decide to trust the prophets, as well as the bigger issue of how we decide Christ is the Messiah and the one to put our faith in.

V26 – Some note that Jesus speaks boldly and that the leaders let Him continue instead of shutting Him up. They wonder if that’s because the leaders believe He is Christ. They were judging based on the fact that the leaders hadn’t stopped Him yet. In their mind, permission equaled agreement.

V27 – Some note they know where Jesus is from, but that Christ’s origins are supposed to be mysterious. I have to wonder if they get this idea from some scripture we don’t have or whether this was folk tradition. They judge based on Jesus’s place of origin. (They aren’t the only ones who do this.) Is this a good basis for judgment? I doubt it.

V41-42 --   Some say, “Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” They cite the scriptures that Christ comes from the seed of David out of the town of Bethlehem. We have stories that show us Christ fulfilled that, even if Bethlehem was a very short-term residence.  Ignorance was tripping them up here.

V52 -- Some Pharisee say, “Search and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” They think that just because no prophet has come from Galilee that means no prophet can come from there. It’s as silly as Latter-day Saints saying “No modern prophet can arise outside of Utah.” God can easily upend those notions.

V31 – Some say, “When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” They judge on the basis of miracles. Miracles are significant, but they can’t be the foundation of faith. Miracles follow faith, confirming it rather than preceding it.

V40-41 – Some say, “Of a truth, this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” They say this in response to Jesus’s promise that those who come to Him and drink will have living waters flow out of their bellies. They judge by Jesus’s sayings and promises and how they felt and how it matches the scriptures.

V46 – The officers who were supposed to apprehend Jesus and take Him, did not do it, and they say, “Never man spake like this man.” They judge by how Christ speaks and the authority they sense from Him that is greater than any other they have heard (and since they work for the Jerusalem temple administration and chief priests, they’ve had the opportunity to hear the greatest that Judaism had at that time).

V48 – The Pharisees say, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?”  They judge by the numbers of rulers that accept Him, in effect holding themselves hostage to popularity among the elite.

V50-51 – Nicodemus says, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” It seems Nicodemus didn’t feel like the Pharisees knew enough about Jesus—what He said or did—for them to be able to tell one way or the other, and he felt to caution them to reserve judgment until they have the real facts.

When we add it all up, we get this:

Bad basis for judging
Good basis for judging
--Looking for mysterious origins
--Judging based on where He comes from
--Judging based on whether authorities allow it
--Judging based on whether authorities accept it and believe it
--Judging based on popularity among elites and authority

--Doing many miracles to benefit others
--Based on sayings and promises given, how they feel and how it matches scripture
--Based on authority felt when He speaks
--Based on what one knows about what He does and says

I’m taking a Global Business law and ethics class this semester and I get to read summaries of court cases and see how judges make their decisions. Mostly it is based upon law, but when they hit fuzzy areas where there isn’t clarity, often they create tests for themselves with various criteria, and those tests get used by other judges.

 In John 7, we get to see how people of John’s day had their own tests they used to judge, some of which were mental shortcuts that depended upon the judgment of others rather than their own, some of which failed because of their ignorance, and some of which were simply created out of prejudice. 

It think it shows us the importance of thinking about the basis by which we judge the modern prophets or anything, for that matter.  It challenges us to become more conscious of the criteria we judge by. If our criteria is faulty, sooner or later we will run up against something that challenges our notions. If we can’t adjust those criteria appropriately, we will reject something good, thinking it is evil, or accept something evil, thinking it is good.