The Dangers of Judging by Appearances

The Dangers of Judging by Appearance

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 1/7/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. “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. 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? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.” Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.”                                                                         John 7:20–29 (NASB95)

Let’s do some quick review to remind ourselves of what has been happening around Yeshua. Chapter 5 opens with Yeshua attending a Feast of the Jews. The feast is unnamed so we are not sure which feast this might be, but it is not one of the seven Feasts to the Lord, celebrated each year by all Israelites. Yeshua arrives at the Sheep Pool at Bethesda and heals a man who has been lame for 38 years. Rather than rejoicing with the man for his healing, the Pharisees accuse him of breaking the Sabbath. When the man figures out it is Yeshua who has healed him, he tells the Pharisees and the lengthy conversation we are studying begins.

In chapter 6 Yeshua attends the Passover Feast and as He travels the area, a large crowd begins to follow Him. Testing His disciples, Yeshua asks how they can feed so many people. The crowd numbered 5,000 men plus women and children. The disciples think only in terms of human devises and taking the small offering of five loaves of barley bread and two fish, Yeshua feeds the people with twelve baskets leftover. The crowds follow Him to Tiberias where He makes His “I Am the Bread of Life” statement but the people grumble because He says they must eat His flesh and drink His blood.

We now arrive at chapter 7 where the brothers of Yeshua attempt to convince Him to show himself to the world. The Feast of Booths is at hand and the brothers cannot think of a better time to show the world He is the Messiah. Yeshua tells His brothers it is not His time, and He will not be attending the feast, but they should go alone. Yeshua arrives later, about mid-week, and begins teaching at the Temple. As He teaches the people begin to wonder how He can speak this way when He has not been educated. The controversy begins when Yeshua says His teachings are not His own but come from God, the One who sent Him. Which brings us to our passage today.

The final question from Yeshua to the crowd is “Why do you seek to kill Me?” The reaction is that Yeshua has a demon, meaning He is insane. But as we will learn in our passage, Yeshua has been calling out the inconsistencies of the crowd, as well as the Pharisees, when it come to the interpretation of the Law. The warning here is clear and very much needed even today, we must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances.

Accused of having a demon, Jesus contrasts circumcision to keep the Torah, to healing a man on the Sabbath. The Dangers of Judging by Appearances comes into focus as the people declare they know where Jesus is from, but no one will know where the Christ is from. Jesus points out the people do know Him, but they do not know the One who sent Him.

As Christ followers, we must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances, for the way people judge is inconsistent and relies on personal opinion rather than a right understanding and the consistency required for judging rightly.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why must the Christ follower be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearance?”

The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because our personal opinions have a way of clouding the truth.

1). The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because they will cloud our inconsistencies.

The Christ follower must be consistent in their witness to the world.

This entire controversy and conversation started with the healing at the Pool of Bethesda, near the Sheep Gate. This healing was done on the Sabbath and the Pharisees take exception to this. Yeshua is at a Feast when the healing occurs, but the feast is unnamed. There are only two other feasts the Jews observed, and both are in Winter months. Chapter 6 happens during the Passover Feast or in the Spring and chapter 7 happens during the Feast of Booths, or in the Fall. So, this could be nearly a years’ worth of conversations and controversy surrounding one healing on the Sabbath.

What we must understand is that Yeshua is NOT arguing with the Pharisees about the legitimacy of the Law or the Torah. In fact, Yeshua agrees with them on the point of Law they accuse Him of breaking. What He is arguing about is their interpretation of the Law they are accusing Him of breaking. Yeshua understands and agrees that the Law of Moses must be kept, even if it means performing a circumcision on the Sabbath. A person is brought into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, making them whole spiritually. If this is true, then how can making an entire person whole on the Sabbath be wrong? Does this not bring them into a covenant relationship with God? Or at least, back into a covenant relationship? And certainly, it makes them whole both physically and spiritually.

Here is the point of contention for Yeshua, the inconsistency in interpreting the Law. Yeshua is not calling them to repentance or out of legalism, He is calling out to apply their already developed methods more consistently! For example, in Matthew 12, Yeshua challenges the Pharisees concerning the practice of helping an animal that has fallen into a pit or ditch on the Sabbath. The Pharisees find this acceptable because it is the responsible thing to do when caring for an animal, something that is helpless. Yet these same Pharisees condemn Yeshua and the practice of healing an entire person – one who is more valuable than any animal – on the Sabbath.

It is this inconsistency that is being called out. One good deed, that of helping an animal fallen into a ditch or pit, is acceptable as it is a responsibility on caring for the animal, but to heal the entire person is not acceptable as it might be seen as an act to enhance one’s station or status. Yeshua is challenging the Pharisees to see both the act of circumcision – done to meet a religious and ceremonial need for people and the healing of a person to meet a deep, desperate need for that person – in the same fashion. The Pharisees have judged two deeds by appearances – one deemed acceptable because it is a responsibility, the other deemed unacceptable because it is seen as a way to enhance a person’s status or station in life.

As Christ followers, we are in the same dangers as the Pharisees. For example, how many times have you been given the evil eye, or perhaps given the evil eye, over the way someone has come into the church dressed? Or perhaps someone has taken exception to the translation of the Bible you choose to read and study. How many times have you looked upon someone who claimed to be a Christ follower and thought, “As if!” There are many, many ways we can judge by appearances, these are but a few. The point is, we are all in danger of falling into the temptation to judge someone by the appearance of things.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

When was the last time you thought, someone was trying to “sound smarter than they really are?”

What point, or points, of our faith are you applying inconsistently?

When was the last time you openly judged someone completely on their appearance? Either in the church or someone out in public?

The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because our personal opinions have a way of clouding the truth.

2). The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because they can keep us from the One who called us.

The Christ follower must stay close to Yeshua so they can truly and fully know Him.

At this point the people begin to put things together, they are finally beginning to realize who this is that is teaching. This is the One, who just moments ago they accused of being insane, who the Temple authorities have been seeking to kill. Some in the crowd, however, have an issue with Yeshua as the Messiah. They know where He comes from. We have mistakenly thought that the crowd was talking about His knowing His parents, but that is not the case here. The teachings and miracles of Yeshua are well known by this time. The issue is that Yeshua has not sought the approval of those in Jerusalem. In addition, there is the belief that when the Messiah appears it will be suddenly – there is no more suddenness with the ministry of Yeshua now.

Yeshua has been known for some time now – almost three years – because of this, He no longer fits the candidate checklist of the people, or that of the Pharisees. So, when the people begin to grumble stating that they know where Yeshua is from, it seems He agrees with them. “You both know Me and know where I am from:” But Yeshua goes on to explain that they really do not know Him as well as they might think. Christ has been sent by Israel’s God, but Yeshua tells them plainly the One who sent Him is true whom they, the people, do not know, and He knows Him because, Yeshua says, “I am from Him.”

The people claim to know more about Him than they really do. He has not come of Himself. He did not come to bring glory to Himself. He did not come to build a following or a new movement. He has been sent with a specific message and He has been sent on a specific mission. He has come to reveal the Father to all people, beginning with the lost sheep of Israel. He has come to make the Father known by bringing glory to the Father. He has come preaching the Kingdom of God is at hand, and as we learned in chapter three, the Kingdom will be open to the world, not just the nation of Israel. Yes, the nation of Israel is expecting the Messiah to come but they truly had no idea what to expect when He arrived. They did not know as much about Messiah as they claimed because they did not know the One who sent Messiah.

As Christ followers, we must be careful to stay close to Yeshua. We must be in the word daily, reading and studying, so that we can truly and fully know Him. We too face the danger of thinking we know more about Messiah than we truly do, just as the people in the crowds. If we simply take the word of the pastor in the pulpit, or the teachings of the church, or the accepted doctrine of the day without exploring, researching, testing, and praying for clarity, we are in danger of allowing our personal opinions to cloud the truth of God’s word. We must communicate, talk with our Savior. We must be a praying people, taking every care and concern to our Lord and Savior. We must stay close to our great God so we can truly and fully know Him.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

The people had an issue with Yeshua as Messiah because they know Him – He had become too familiar. What part of God’s word – His commandments and teachings – have become too familiar with you? If none, how do you keep this from happening?

The people thought they knew more about Christ than they really did. When was the last time you thought you knew something about Christ only to find out you were wrong or did not have the entire truth?

What are you actively doing to stay close to Yeshua? If nothing, why?

The Christ follower must be aware of The Dangers of Judging by Appearances because our personal opinions have a way of clouding the truth.

The point of this message is not to point the finger at anyone or to call anyone out for something they have done. The point here is to provide a warning that we all face this same danger. It is easy to judge things or people by their appearance. I bet most of us do it every day without even thinking about it or knowing it. It seems to be just a natural part of the day and how we operate. But if we take the time to examine our own motives, we just might find we are doing it far more often than we care to admit.

For the Christ follower, there are precautions we can take. We can make the effort to see people through the eyes of Christ. If we can see people as sheep looking for a shepherd, we just might be able to understand how they are feeling or understand why they are acting as they do. If we can stay in the word and ask the Lord for clarity and guidance as we read, we might find that we can make a difference in someone’s day, week, or even their life. A simple kind gesture, made in the love of Christ, can turn a day around or flip a life upside down. The point here is simple, take a beat, take a deep breathe, or count to ten and then look at things again. Look beyond the appearance of things. You might find those harsh words spoken to you by someone else were actually a spiritual attack meant to get your focus off what God has been calling you to do. You might find the one who seems dressed inappropriately or in dirty, untidy clothes, is deeply hurt and seeking what you already have – the love of Christ.

This message is meant to call you out of your comfort zone, to keep your eyes on Christ, to read, study, and meditate on the word, to research, test, and seek guidance and clarity from the Lord, and above all, to love others with the end in mind, for we all face The Dangers of Judging by Appearances.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 7:30-36

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