Monday, May 20, 2013

Judging with Righteous Judgment (John 7:14-24)

We are surrounded by many voices on all sides, saying many different and opposing things. It’s true of politics, with those on the right saying one thing, those on the left saying the absolute opposite, and we have to figure out who to believe. It’s true of social issues, with one side loudly shouting that they are in the right, and the other side shouting just as loudly that we ought to side with them. With so many voices swirling around, it can be hard to know whose voice to believe. I once saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that said, “I just do what the voices in my head tell me to do.” A man walking beside of her had on a matching t-shirt that said, “I just do what the voices in my wife’s head tell me to do.” Well, I mean, at least they were making it work, you know.  

There are plenty of voices competing for our attention in matters of religion as well. There are people on one side saying God is there and people on another side saying that He is not. Well, either He is or He isn’t, and it seems that there is a lot riding on the matter. There are people on one side saying that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and people on another side saying that He isn’t. If heaven is what the Bible says it is, and hell is what the Bible says it is, I can’t think of a more important matter to resolve in your mind than this. Which voice you believe can determine where you will spend an infinite eternity! Who should we trust? Who should we believe? Who is telling the truth? Is anyone telling the truth? It seems that today, the more popular question is, “Why does it even matter?” Well, I should say that when it comes to some issues, it matters a great deal. And it never matters more than when it comes to spiritual matters.

In our text today, we find a crowd of people “stuck in the middle.” On the one side is Jesus. He’s teaching in the Temple during the midst of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. What’s He saying? Well, we aren’t told what He was saying, but whatever He was saying, it provoked the religious authorities, who were already angry and incensed over the things Jesus has said and done. So over here, you have Jesus saying, “I am telling you the truth, and you should believe Me.” And over there, you have these leaders saying, “No, don’t believe a word He says! We are telling the truth and He is lying.” And here’s this whole crowd of people stuck in the middle trying to figure out who to believe. And given the nature of these matters – who God is and what He is like; what it takes to get to heaven; and things of this sort – it’s kind of a big deal to figure out who we should believe. That means that a judgment call has to be made.

Now, in our day, we like to say that we shouldn’t be judgmental. Once upon a time, the most beloved Bible verse among average people was probably John 3:16. These days, it seems that it has been usurped by Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” The only thing people today are comfortable judging is judgmentalism. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong, except saying that something is right or wrong, then that is just wrong. You might have discovered that it is absolutely impossible to live for ten minutes in this world without making judgments. You go through life just like everyone else does, deciding that some things are true and some things are false, some things are right and some things are wrong, some things are good and some things are bad. But do we do with Jesus’ words that we should not judge lest we be judged? It’s really interesting that in that entire context of Matthew 7, Jesus is talking about making judgments. You’ve got to make judgments about the logs in your own eye and the specks in your brother’s eye. You’ve got to make judgments about what things are holy, and who are the swine that you should not give the holy things to; what things are pearls and who the dogs are that you should not throw them to. You’ve got to decide what are stones and what is bread, what are fish and what are serpents, before you give them to your children. You’ve got to make a judgment about which gate to choose, the narrow one or the broad one. You’ve got to make a judgment about who are sheep and who are wolves, and who are wolves in sheep’s clothing; who are the true prophets and who are false prophets, what is good fruit and what is bad fruit. He goes on to talk about how He will make a judgment between those who know Him and those who do not. And Matthew 7 concludes with a parable about building your house on a rock or on sand. You’ve got to make a judgment about whether or not you are building your life on the solid rock of His word or the shifting sand of other ideas. So, after saying “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged”, Jesus speaks for 28 verses about the necessity of making judgments.

We have to wonder, could we have misunderstood what Jesus meant? I think we have! It seems that Jesus is condemning a judgmental spirit that is always out to condemn others without realizing our own daily need for God’s mercy. This is the person who sees himself or herself as self-righteous and everyone else who doesn’t live up to their standards as wicked. This is the person who is on a relentless hunt for heretics, oblivious to their own false beliefs and character flaws. In short, He’s condemning people who think like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Israel instead of people who have Gospel-saturated hearts. If we recognized our own need for mercy, we would be more inclined to give it to others. That is Gospel-living! But nowhere does Jesus say that we should naively go through life accepting every voice and moral choice as good and valid. He says the opposite of this on so many occasions!

And He says it here. There’s a crowd of people caught in the cross-fire between Himself and the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and Jesus is not telling the crowd, “Well, who’s to say who is right and who is wrong? Let’s just live and let live, and agree to disagree.” No, on the contrary, He is saying, “OK folks, I am saying one thing and they are saying another, so which one are you going to believe?” Jesus says in verse 24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” There is a moral and theological discernment that is demanded in order to make sense of the swirling opinions surrounding us on all sides. We are not to make these judgments based on external appearances only. This is a very serious and severe matter. We must examine the matter carefully, spiritually, and biblically, and then based on our understanding of God’s truth, we have to make a judgment. So, how do we do that? How were they to determine which side of the argument to believe? Jesus gives them three criteria to use to determine whether or not they should listen to Him with faith and obedience, or reject Him and side with the religious officials.

I. What are His credentials?  (vv15-17)

When someone makes a claim about something, it should be a natural instinct for us to wonder what authority they have to make such a claim. Often we see and hear celebrities in the news spouting off about matters of national politics, global economics, and social issues, and we should ask, “On what grounds do they make these claims? Why should we listen to them?” Does the fact that someone knows how to play the guitar mean that we should listen to them about who to vote for in the election? Just because someone is a good actor, should we side with them on the issue of marriage laws? That is kind of what is going on here. Jesus was becoming something of a celebrity in that day. The previous verses indicate that everyone in Jerusalem was talking about Him. So when He stands to teach in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, saying things that contradict the long and strongly held opinions and traditions of the Jewish religious leaders, these leaders begin to question His credentials.

We read here in verse 15 that the Jews were astonished. Using context as our guide, we know that “the Jews” here refers to the Jewish authorities – those political and religious leaders in Jerusalem who held the nation under the control of their own traditions and interpretations of the Law; the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the chief priests, the scribes, the Sanhedrin. And we know that the kind of astonishment that these people felt was not the kind that accompanies faith. No, they were astonished that He had the audacity to stand and teach in the temple. They say, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated.” Basically, what they mean is, “You can’t believe a word He says, because He hasn’t even been to rabbinical school.” When the traditional rabbis of that day taught, they would undergird their claims and arguments with quotations of rabbis and scribes that had gone on before. They would often boast of how they had studied under someone of prominence. Before He was converted to be a follower of Jesus, the Apostle Paul had studied under the esteemed Jewish rabbi Gamaliel. And as an accommodation to this traditional method of teaching, when Paul proclaims his own testimony to the hostile crowds at the Jerusalem temple in Acts 22, he says, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.” He said this because he knew there would be people in the crowds saying, “Why should we listen to this jackleg preacher?” So, just as one of their rabbis would do, Paul gave his credentials: “I am a graduate of Gamaliel Seminary.” He knew that would open the ears of some of them. But Jesus never studied under any other rabbis. He never quoted them. He never appealed to them for the support of His claims. Rather, Jesus said things like, “You have heard it said … but I say to you….” He always appealed to His own divine authority to substantiate His claims. And when He spoke, it was as if He was saying, “You have all these teachers, with all these letters after their names, and all these degrees from prestigious institutes who have learned under renowned scholars. Well, I say that you should not believe them, but believe Me instead.” It is not hard to imagine the astonishment of the religious leaders and their outrage at this.

So, Jesus, if you want us to take you seriously, tell us where you got your diploma and who you studied under and what famous teachers influenced your thinking? Or are you just making this stuff up and pulling it out of your own head? Jesus responds to their question by saying, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” Do you see what He is doing here? He is saying, “No, I didn’t attend your seminaries or study under your scholars. But I was sent here by God, My Father, from heaven, and I appeal to Him as the only authority I need. You want me to appeal to a great scholar for proof of My claims? OK, fine, I appeal to the God who sent Me.” Now, we might think this is some kind of sledgehammer argument that Jesus is trying to make: “You say this but I say that, and God told me to say it, so there!” But Jesus knows better than this. He knows that this kind of “God told me” reasoning is invalid. It didn’t take me long as a pastor to discover the kind of folks that I affectionately call the “God told me” crowd. I would say something in a sermon or in a meeting, and someone would immediately counter with “Well, God told me ….” And they would expect me to just roll over and play dead because they threw out the “God told me” card. But here’s the thing, and this is what Jesus is saying to the leaders here: If you are going to say “God told me,” then what God told you better line up with God has revealed in His word. Otherwise, God didn’t tell you that.

Jesus says in verse 17, “If anyone is willing to do His will,” that is, the will of His Father, God, who sent Him, “he will know of the teaching whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” This is a fascinating statement. Where do we discover God’s will? It is revealed in His Word. And these Jewish officials prided themselves on the possession and meticulous study of the Mosaic Law. It was not that they did not what the Word said. Jesus says that their problem is that they have not committed themselves by faith to the doing of God’s Word. They have set themselves up as intellectual referees over God’s Word, and God’s Word to them is not what it says, but rather what they say that it means. The Word of God had become for them an artifact of academic analysis, and not the life-giving breath of God that not only sets out what to believe, but also how to live. If they were committed to believing God’s word rather than merely analyzing it, and doing God’s will rather than merely trying to expound upon it, then they would understand that the things that Jesus was saying to them were perfectly in line with what God had revealed. But this would also require a confession that they had missed the boat! And this is something that their pride made them unwilling to do.

Now there are many points of practical application here. First, and perhaps most importantly, there is an epistemological reality here that we have to comprehend. What is truth and how can we know it? People talk about this as if there were some sort of ivory tower that we could climb, and from it we could gain a bird’s eye view of “reality” from the outside that would enable us to decide truth from falsehood. But the thing is, we cannot get “outside” of reality in order to study it. We study it from within it. And so what Jesus is saying here is that divine revelation can only be assessed from the inside.[1] As we accept God’s word as truth by faith, and commit ourselves to practicing it, that truth authenticates itself in our hearts as the Spirit of God affirms it, and we begin to see the truthfulness of it play out in our experiences. As C. S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”[2] As we believe and do God’s Word, we see the truth of it, and the truthfulness of all that corresponds to it.

Second, this tells us that the mere focus on “credentials” is a matter of external judgment, not righteous judgment. For instance, there are some who make certain assumptions about me based on the churches that licensed and ordained me, the schools from which I graduated and the degrees I hold. I was told when I came to this church by someone, “I read your resume, so I know that you are this-and-that kind of person and that you will do such-and-such.” To some, that was maybe a bad thing, and to others a good thing. But, my credentials on paper do not really say anything about the person I am. One of the most popular writers of our day on the subject of the Bible and the Christian faith is a man who holds a prestigious position at a prestigious university, a PhD from Princeton Seminary (magna cum laude, no less), who studied under the foremost New Testament scholar of the last century. And yet, this man is not a believer! He rejects the claims of Christ and the authority of the Bible. If we judged him by his credentials, we might think that we should believe every word he says. Jesus here warns us to beware of that kind of thinking. Before we believe what a man says about God and the Bible, we must ask where he stands with the God of the Bible. I would rather take the word of an elderly widow who has spent her lifetime on her knees before God and worn out the pages of her Bible with her own tears than this man, because her teachings come from God. Don’t believe what I say simply because I have an advanced academic degree. Rather, be like those Bereans of whom Paul said that they “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” What Jesus says of Himself here is true of everyone else in the world: Don’t accept or reject someone’s claims just because of the credentials they present. Check the Scriptures – the very Bible that you have committed yourself by faith to believe and to obey – and see if the things being said resonate with God’s revealed truth.

Jesus is saying here that if you want credentials, He can give them to you. His teachings come from God, and if you were committed to believing and doing what God has revealed, you would recognize that. That’s part of judging with righteous judgment. It is rooted not in credentials alone, but in commitment to believe God’s word and do His will.

Now, the second issue we see here about judging with righteous judgment is …
II. What is His motive?
Some years ago, I was in the market for a vehicle. I was talking to some folks in the church we were serving at that time, and one of the members was a salesman for a local dealership. He told me how the make of vehicles that he sold was the finest on the road and certainly the best option available to us. Now, another guy in our church was a mechanic, and not knowing what the other guy had said, he told me, “One thing I can tell you for sure is to stay away from this particular kind of car (the same one the salesman told me I should buy) because before you get 60,000 miles on it, you’re going to need major repairs.” Well, who do I believe? I have to look at motive. The one guy has a vested interest in me buying that car, because he’s going to get commission and sales credit for it. Now, the other guy, might have reason to agree – he knows I am going to bring it to him when it breaks down, and he’s got a guarantee of future business if he encourages me to buy a clunker. But in spite of that, out of love for me, he warned me against it, even if it means that buying a better car means less business for his garage. So I took the mechanic’s advice because I trusted his motives.

Well, Jesus says here that part of judging with righteous judgment involves examining the motives. Who should we believe? Jesus or the religious authorities? Jesus gives a litmus test for motives here in v18. He says, “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.” In other words, “Am I out to promote Myself and bring glory to Myself? Do I have a vested interest in saying these things?” I mean, the things that Jesus was saying were about to get Him killed! If He was really interested in self-promotion, He’d change His tune a little and say things that were easier on the ears. But Jesus never altered His message for the sake of popular opinion. He was not seeking His own glory. Rather, He was seeking the glory of His Father, who sent Him. So, He had to speak the truth of the Father at all costs, even at the cost of His own life. Had Jesus been seeking His own glory, He would have taken His brothers’ advice earlier in this chapter, and gone into Jerusalem to do a little miracle-working sideshow. But He came in secret, and was doing no miracles here, just teaching people the words of His Father. Though in His divine nature, Jesus was all-glorious and had every right to seek and promote His own glory, this was a right He never exercised. We see Jesus in humility and meekness, going to “the least of these,” interfacing with the poor and the desperate rather than pandering to the rich and powerful. And this He did because He sought the glory of His Father rather than His own. He spoke powerfully and truthfully the Word of the Lord, even when it was not popular, even when it got Him in trouble, because He could do nothing other than that. Anything other than this would have not glorified His Father.

Now, there is a veiled accusation here. In contrast to Jesus, whose glory were the religious leaders of Israel seeking? While Jesus said of Himself that birds have nests and foxes have holes, but He has nowhere to lay His head, some of these guys had gotten rich, and all of them had gained power, by virtue of their position. They had a vested interest in keeping Israel under their thumbs. Jesus says of them in Matthew 6 that when they give, they sound a trumpet so that everyone will know how much they gave and they will be honored by men. When they pray, they make sure everyone can see them and hear them. In Mark 12 He says that they love to walk around in long robes and receive respectful greetings in the marketplaces, and to be invited to hold the seat of honor at banquets. When Mark records for us the story about Jesus seeing the widow who gave her last mite to the temple, it was not in order to guilt you into giving more money. It was to illustrate the fact that these charlatan priests and religious leaders were fattening their own pockets at the expense of the poorest of people. Jesus said that they “devour widow’s houses.” Who’s glory are they seeking? It should have been evident to all that they were seeking their own glory.

What did Jesus have to gain, personally, by saying the things He said and challenging the religious institution of Jerusalem in the way that He did? If these things were not true, He had no motive to say them. He was not seeking His own glory. But what did the religious leaders stand to lose if the people started believing Jesus? In short, everything: their wealth, their power, their prominence! Jesus threatened their livelihood and luxury, and therefore, out of concern for their own glory, they had a great motive to silence Him. Jesus’ only motive was to glorify His Father.

What can we draw from this? First, we should beware of people who are only telling us what they want us to hear. The prophets of Israel warned the people against those false prophets who were crying out, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. There are people on television today telling you that God’s greatest desire for you is to be healthy and wealthy, and then they tell you that if you believe that, you can prove it by sending your money to them. There are few people in the world who have ever gotten rich off of preaching the pure, unadulterated truth of God’s word. A few years ago, when I was preaching through Mark, I came to a text that I didn’t want to preach. I knew that if I preached that text faithfully, it would anger people, that some might leave the church, and the very people whose tithes and offerings pay my salary. What could I do? Could I adulterate God’s word to be more palatable to the audience? If I were interested in my own glory, that is exactly what I would have done. But if I know that I have to stand before God and give account for my life, my doctrine, and my ministry, then I have to tell the truth, regardless of the outcome. The same is true for you. There will be times that you have to take unpopular stands. You will face a great temptation to water down the truth in order to please people. But, if you are intent on seeking the glory of God, you know that you cannot do that. You will have to stand firm and speak truth. But you won’t do that if you are seeking your own glory. You will say what you have to say to tickle itching ears and make yourself look better in the eyes of others. I’m so thankful Jesus didn’t do that. We can have full confidence in His word, knowing that He spoke the truth of God, even at the cost of His life, so that we can know God’s truth and be set free. If you are going to judge righteously, you won’t look at the external things, like your own self-interests or those of another. You’ll look at the motives underlying the issues, and you will trust the one who speaks with a pure motive.

III. What is His character?

We have to remember that the antagonism toward Jesus that we see on display here is not something new. In the early verses of this chapter, it says that they were seeking to kill Him. Why would they want to kill Jesus? Well, we have to go back a few chapters to His last visit to Jerusalem and the surrounding region to find out why. In chapter 5, Jesus healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Well, what could be wrong with that? He did it on the Sabbath – the day of rest which God had prescribed for humanity in His Law. The religious leaders of Israel had been so obsessed with keeping the Sabbath Law that they had determined 39 categories of work which were forbidden. Bottom line, you couldn’t do anything, at all, on that day. And by healing the man, they claimed that Jesus had broken the Sabbath. By commanding the man to arise and carry his mat, they claimed that He had also led the man to break the Sabbath as well. And then, as if that weren’t enough, Jesus claimed that He had the right to do that because He was God. And John 5:18 says, “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

So, the accusation is that Jesus is a lawbreaker – He has broken the Sabbath law, and the blasphemy law. Now, we have to ask, “Is the character of Jesus consistent with the accusation?” Or, is that Jesus is within the Law, and those who are opposed to Him are the lawbreakers? Notice what Jesus says in v19: “Did not Moses give you the Law?” They would all readily affirm this. They prided themselves on possessing the Law of God that came to them through Moses. But Jesus says, “and yet none of you carries out the Law.” He turns the table on them. “You all pride yourselves on having the Law, and yet none of you keeps it perfectly.” Then in verses 21-23, He gives them a comparative case study to illustrate that He has not violated the Law. He says, “I did one deed, and you all marvel.” Of course, He has done many more deeds than one, but there is one that is at issue. What is that one deed? He healed a man on the Sabbath.

He says in v22 that “Moses has given you circumcision.” They would all affirm this. But notice that Jesus exposes their biblical ignorance and says, “No, it not from Moses, but from the fathers.” Circumcision was in the Law of Moses, yes, but it came into practice long before Moses, with Abraham. Now, he says, “on the Sabbath you circumcise a man.” No one would deny this. The Law of circumcision said that a male child had to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. But what if that fell on the Sabbath? Well, the scribes and priests and rabbis had wrestled with this question over the years and had concluded that circumcision, because it predates the Law, also takes precedence over the Law, so it was permissible to circumcise on the Sabbath. They did this all the time. Probably every Sabbath, some Jewish baby was being circumcised somewhere. No one had a problem with it. But Jesus asks, “Are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?” Now, had this man’s life been in jeopardy, the scribes and priests and rabbis had made a special exception clause. It was permissible to save a life under necessary and urgent conditions on the Sabbath. The Law didn’t say that, though. It was an inference that they made from the Law based on their own opinions and traditions. But, this man had been paralyzed for 38 years. What was one more day? Why couldn’t Jesus just wait another day? If He had, there would be no turmoil. But Jesus is saying here that if it is permissible to perform a procedure on a baby that is not life or death, simply so that the circumcision law would not be broken, why should He not also be permitted to make a whole man well on the Sabbath? You can’t say it is because his life was not in danger – the Law never said that; it’s a man-made exception clause. And who’s to say – perhaps Jesus knew that this might have been the man’s last day of life if he were not healed. But the point is that they care more about the minutia of their own opinions and traditions, all in the name of pseudo-piety, than they do about the well-being of their fellow man. If they truly loved their neighbor as themselves, which the Law also commanded, they would rejoice that Jesus had not passed up the opportunity to good for a suffering man on the Sabbath. That is, if they really cared about the Word of God and their fellow man. So, no, Jesus is no lawbreaker.

Yet on the other hand, what about the religious leaders of Israel? Are they lawbreakers? When Jesus asked them, “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law?”, there would have been an instinctive protest from these officials. They would insist that they were not lawbreakers. But in order to prove His point, Jesus said, “Why do you seek to kill Me?” I mean, look, the matter of whether or not it is lawful to make a sick man well on the Sabbath might come down to an interpretive difference, but how hard is it to understand Exodus 20:13 – “You shall not murder”? That’s pretty clear-cut, isn’t it? Ah, but they think their killing of Jesus is justified because He is a lawbreaker. But He has just shown them that He is not a lawbreaker. It is them who are guilty of breaking God’s law. He speaks truth; He is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him; and, unlike them, v18 says “there is no unrighteousness in Him.” They are out to kill an innocent man.

Now, in verse 20 the crowd chimes in. They say, “You have a demon!” This is probably not the same kind of thing that the rulers will say about Him later when they accuse Him of being in league with Satan to do the miracles He performed. There’s probably nothing theological about this statement. You could just read this to mean, “You’ve lost your mind!” They say, “Who seeks to kill you?” This is not the leaders denying that this is their intent. This is the crowd, expressing their own disbelief. For the most part, they don’t know that the leaders are out to kill Jesus. Verse 25 indicates that some of the people were aware of the plot, but the bulk of the crowd could not imagine that someone was trying to kill Jesus! Now, don’t you think if the religious leaders had a firm capital case against Jesus, they would have made it known in order to win the support of the crowd? We know from other passages that they were plotting stealthily for fear of an uprising among the people, because they knew that many people thought highly of Jesus. But here, the tide of opinion seems to be shifting. Here’s a guy we used to think highly of, but now He’s gone a little kooky – He thinks everyone’s out to get Him. You know, its only paranoia if everyone is not really out to get you. But here, Jesus hasn’t gone crazy. He knows about the plot to kill Him; its just that the crowd doesn’t.
Well, what are we saying here? That to judge righteously, we have to examine the character of a person. Should the people believe Jesus, or should they believe the religious authorities of Israel? Well, what does the character of their lives say? Jesus demonstrates reverence for God’s Law, but overlooks the man-made traditions surrounding the Law in order to help His fellow man. The authorities would rather be enslaved to the minutia of their own opinions rather than demonstrate concern for another human being, and should anyone threaten their authority or influence over the people, they secretly begin to plot murder.

Now the question comes down to us: Will you side with Jesus or against Him? Will you side with the One who speaks truth, or with those who tell lies about Him? Will you side with the One who seeks the glory of God alone, or with the one who seeks his own glory? Will you side with the one in whom there is no unrighteousness, or with those harbor evil in their hearts? You may wonder, “Well, when will I ever have to make a decision like that?” It will happen more often than you may think. Every time you open the pages of God’s Word, you may find yourself wondering, “Should I believe this? Should I do it?” And of course there will be those who say, “Oh no, don’t believe that, and don’t do that.” Or maybe it is more subtle. When those uncomfortable passages of Scripture come up, we may wonder if we can tweak it or tinker with it to make it suit our own lifestyles and preferences. But Jesus says that if we are committed by faith to believe and do what His Word says, then we will know the truth of it. And then also, every time the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed anywhere in the world, He is on trial, and the judgment is called for. Will we believe Him to be who He claims to be and submit ourselves to Him as Lord? Or will we side with those who say that He is not what He claimed, and that His Word cannot be trusted. Unaware, or perhaps unconcerned with, their own sin multitudes turn away from Him and rally their voices together to crowd out the gospel from our lives. Were they alive in that day, they would have joined in on the plot to put Him to death, even though there was no unrighteousness in Him. But herein lies our only hope. The fact that this perfectly sinless and righteous Jesus was willing to embrace death when He could have escaped it is our hope of glory. Because we are all sinners, from birth prone to untruth, prone to self-glorying, prone to lawbreaking, none of us has a hope of being found acceptable before God and entering heaven. But in the death of the righteous One, the Lord Jesus, He has borne our sins for us that we might be forgiven and made new, made righteous, made whole before God. Just as Jesus healed that paralytic man on the Sabbath, He is still in the life-changing business, and He can change your life today if you turn to Him in faith. Judge Him with righteous judgment and see if He is worthy of your faith. Because, my friends, the day is coming when He will judge you with righteous judgment. He will not merely look at the external matters of your life. He will examine your heart – is there truth therein? Is there purity of motive therein? Is there righteousness therein? Apart from Him, none of these things can be found in any of us. Ah, but in Him, and only in Him, do we find these things imparted to us as we trust Him by faith.

But, don’t take my word for it. Take His word for it. His teachings are not His own, but those of His Father who sent Him. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching whether it is of God or whether He speaks from Himself. 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.

[1] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 312-313.
[2] C. S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?” in The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 140.

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