We humans are a judgmental lot. Admit it. We size people we don’t know up the minute they walk into a room. Our “first impressions” seem to rule everything. What we see first is what we believe about a person. We carry on our assumption of their lives as soon as they answer our halfhearted question, “So, where you from?” When we learn where, we mindlessly evaluate who they are. In our heads, we think, ah, that side of town or that part of the country. We even assume their political posture after knowing from where they come. We take our presumptuous judgements farther with each question we ask. Yes, we humans are a judgmental lot who are “hypercritical” to the unknown. We use our simple-minded heads without using our hearts. Admit it.
Let’s judge ourselves. The next time someone we don’t know enters a room, what do we think first? How do we treat that person based only on our first impression, hypercritical judgement?
Jesus has been sent by God. Many have varied presumptuous judgements about Him. How can He teach like this? We know where he comes from, many say. Who is He, really? The leaders are trained to judge so they do so explicably. They pick apart every action Jesus takes, every word He says and even assume what He is thinking.
Wow, imagine judging the One who created us and saved us. But we know the end of the story, right?
Jesus responds to the leaders judgements with the most profound words, “Don’t be hypercritical; use your head—and heart! —to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right.” This is wisdom for all of us now! In a world that easily presumes, assumes and judges accordingly, we must use our heads (what we know about God) AND our hearts (who we are with God) for he will give us discernment in knowing what is right and what is wrong. God will guide our decisions if we invite Him to do so.
Some of the best advice I was given as a child—after doing what I knew to be wrong—was, “when in doubt, don’t.” That simple advice along with “ask God first before doing anything” has guided my life well. When I go against what my heart is saying and only follow what looks good to my thinking, I get into trouble. When we couple heads with our hearts, asking God to show us truth, He will. Jesus spends time explaining how this works in our next passage.
John 7:14-53, The Message
Could It Be the Messiah?
14-15 With the Feast already half over, Jesus showed up in the Temple, teaching. The Jews were impressed, but puzzled: “How does he know so much without being schooled?”
16-19 Jesus said, “I didn’t make this up. What I teach comes from the One who sent me. Anyone who wants to do his will can test this teaching and know whether it’s from God or whether I’m making it up. A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honor the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn’t tamper with reality. It was Moses, wasn’t it, who gave you God’s Law? But none of you are living it. So why are you trying to kill me?”
20 The crowd said, “You’re crazy! Who’s trying to kill you? You’re demon-possessed.”
21-24 Jesus said, “I did one miraculous thing a few months ago, and you’re still standing around getting all upset, wondering what I’m up to. Moses prescribed circumcision—originally it came not from Moses but from his ancestors—and so you circumcise a man, dealing with one part of his body, even if it’s the Sabbath. You do this in order to preserve one item in the Law of Moses. So why are you upset with me because I made a man’s whole body well on the Sabbath? Don’t be hypercritical; use your head—and heart!—to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right.”
25-27 That’s when some of the people of Jerusalem said, “Isn’t this the one they were out to kill? And here he is out in the open, saying whatever he pleases, and no one is stopping him. Could it be that the rulers know that he is, in fact, the Messiah? And yet we know where this man came from. The Messiah is going to come out of nowhere. Nobody is going to know where he comes from.”
28-29 That provoked Jesus, who was teaching in the Temple, to cry out, “Yes, you think you know me and where I’m from, but that’s not where I’m from. I didn’t set myself up in business. My true origin is in the One who sent me, and you don’t know him at all. I come from him—that’s how I know him. He sent me here.”
30-31 They were looking for a way to arrest him, but not a hand was laid on him because it wasn’t yet God’s time. Many from the crowd committed themselves in faith to him, saying, “Will the Messiah, when he comes, provide better or more convincing evidence than this?”
32-34 The Pharisees, alarmed at this seditious undertow going through the crowd, teamed up with the high priests and sent their police to arrest him. Jesus rebuffed them: “I am with you only a short time. Then I go on to the One who sent me. You will look for me, but you won’t find me. Where I am, you can’t come.”
35-36 The Jews put their heads together. “Where do you think he is going that we won’t be able to find him? Do you think he is about to travel to the Greek world to teach the Jews? What is he talking about, anyway: ‘You will look for me, but you won’t find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you can’t come’?”
37-39 On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)
40-44 Those in the crowd who heard these words were saying, “This has to be the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah!” But others were saying, “The Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? Don’t the Scriptures tell us that the Messiah comes from David’s line and from Bethlehem, David’s village?” So there was a split in the crowd over him. Some went so far as wanting to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 That’s when the Temple police reported back to the high priests and Pharisees, who demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him with you?”
46 The police answered, “Have you heard the way he talks? We’ve never heard anyone speak like this man.”
47-49 The Pharisees said, “Are you carried away like the rest of the rabble? You don’t see any of the leaders believing in him, do you? Or any from the Pharisees? It’s only this crowd, ignorant of God’s Law, that is taken in by him—and damned.”
50-51 Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus earlier and was both a ruler and a Pharisee, spoke up. “Does our Law decide about a man’s guilt without first listening to him and finding out what he is doing?”
52-53 But they cut him off. “Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.”
Then they all went home.
TRUTH BE TOLD—RECAP
- “What I teach comes from the One who sent me”. –Jesus
- “Anyone who wants to do his will can test this teaching and know whether it’s from God or whether I’m making it up. A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honor the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn’t tamper with reality.” –Jesus
- “Don’t be hypercritical; use your head—and heart!—to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right.” –Jesus
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” –Jesus
I believe. I thirst no more for I am filled with all of you in me. I believe what you say and what you do in my life to be true. You are Truth. You are my Savior and you are my Lord. Continue to teach me, grow and mature your character in me. Transform my thinking. Give me your wisdom of discernment. Help me to know, without doubt, what is wrong and what is right in your eyes. Give me boldness to be different, to be the only one in the crowd if that is what is required to walk counter to this culture of lies. Yes, I really believe you are the Savior of the world. Thank you for loving us the way you do.
In Jesus Name, Amen.