“14 About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” 16 Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17 Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18 Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.
19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” NRSV
In the Gospel of John, one hears a rather consistent attempt by Jesus to justify himself, his teachings, and his actions. It seems he is always on the defensive. Therefore, it is quite easy to get a bit lost in Jesus’ logic. This is a characteristic of John’s gospel that makes it so much different than the other three.
The stories in John are much beloved, but the passages like this one can keep one scratching one’s head in trying to decipher the message. That was no accident.
It has long been held by many scholars that the author of John’s gospel was influenced by the philosophy of Gnosticism, a belief that Jesus’ teachings were intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized ability to interpret what Jesus taught. Gnostics thought of themselves as intellectual elites. When one reads John’s gospel one quickly see how John portrays Jesus as intellectually superior to the disciples. They repeated fail to grasp Jesus’ message.
Fortunately, John does a lot of the translating for those of us who lack the intellectual superiority of the gnostics. That is especially true in the last couple of verses in this passage. “If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” It is hard to miss the double standard Jesus is challenging in this comparison.
Jesus is challenging us to identify and abandon the double standards by which we live our lives. He also offers us a way to live without them.
Be a blessing to someone today!