Jesus said, “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
You have undoubtedly heard the phrase, "You can't tell a book by its cover." It means that a book's true worth is discovered not in its exterior facade but in the depth of its content. Similarly, Jesus challenges his listeners to look beyond surface-level perceptions and understand the deeper spiritual truths of actions and teachings.
As he speaks to the people in the temple courts, Jesus asks his listeners why they are trying to kill him. "You are demon-possessed," they say. "Who is trying to kill you?" From Jesus' response, we understand their hatred is linked to a healing he performed on the Sabbath. It made the Jews furious that he would defy their Sabbath laws, and they decided to kill him.
Strangely, John does not tell us the story of this miracle, which can be found in the Synoptic Gospels (see Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, and Luke 6:6-11). However, the fact that John doesn't provide a detailed account of the healing but references it shows the interconnectedness of the Gospel narratives. It also suggests that the story was well-known among early Christian communities, so John didn't feel the need to recount it in detail.
Jesus tries to get them to see reason. He reminds them about how they perform circumcisions on the Sabbath before saying, "Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man's whole body on the Sabbath?"
Here, Jesus contrasts two acts: one, a ritualistic observance of the law (circumcision), and the other, a compassionate act of healing. Both, in their essence, are good. But the leaders, in their rigid interpretation of the law, have missed the spirit behind it. They are willing to perform a ritual on the Sabbath but criticize a life-giving miracle.
This brings us to the crux of Jesus' message: "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly." It's a call to move beyond surface-level judgments and to discern with righteousness and wisdom. The leaders were fixated on the external act of healing on the Sabbath but failed to recognize the deeper significance of a man being made whole.
As we reflect on this, let us remember that studying the Word is not just about understanding the text but discerning its spirit. It's easy to get caught up in the intricacies of exegesis and hermeneutics and miss the heart of God's message. The challenge is to approach Scripture – and indeed, all of life – with a discerning heart, seeking to understand God's deeper intentions and purposes.
God bless you.