Today’s reading: John 7:1-24
We all know the verse, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7:1). Everyone can quote it, even the atheists. Most often, it is deployed to shut down any argument over the morality of some questionable conduct. The implication of its use is that we are not to make ANY judgments. However, to quote a famous movie, “I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
Jesus’ words today should put an end to an overbroad interpretation of “Judge not…”.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24
To be sure, judging is a perilous activity and should be entered into cautiously and with a loving heart. As the verse continues in Matthew we should not judge hypocritically and should have repented over our own faults before entering into such territory. Indeed, we should not judge the state of another’s soul, but only the moral implications of their objective actions.
What then is “right judgment”?
As usual, Jesus has provided the answer in the context of his teaching. In this incident, he points out that the authorities now seek to kill him because he healed someone on the Sabbath. However, he points out that these same authorities would allow circumcision even if it fell on a Sabbath day. Thus, if work to keep the law is allowed on the Sabbath, then “work” to heal a man should also be allowed. The difference is mercy. Regular work, that is prohibited by the Sabbath, has no aspect of mercy. Keeping the law has an element of mercy because it is necessary for the ancient Jews to bring about salvation. Healing another person has the greatest element of mercy.
Tomorrow: John 7:25-53