"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 astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (John 7:20-24 NIV).
The religious leaders of Jesus' day were trying every way possible to trap Jesus. They constantly questioned him on the Law and how He applied it. They were so sure that He could not possibly be the Messiah, based on all outward appearances that they were willing to kill Him if necessary to get rid of him. He responds with these biting words, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."
What a challenge! It was a challenge for them and it is a challenge for us.
These people thought they were right. Based on what they saw, what they heard, and what they understood, they thought Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic. Based on what appeared to be the reality, they could not accept Him. Jesus criticized them for it. We criticize them for it.
Unfortunately, we do the same thing. We hear about something that happens, and way too often we immediately assume things. We base our opinions and discussions on what we want to be right, what we think is right, or what appears to be right. We make our judgments based on those assumptions.
Jesus said, "Make a right judgment."
We need to go beyond appearances. We need to get beneath the obvious and dig out the truth, whether it is what we want it to be or not. We must refuse to settle for what everyone else says is right, what everyone else believes is right, what everyone else likes, or what everyone else perceives to be the truth. We need to find out what is right and what it is that pleases God.
We can settle for hearsay. We can be satisfied for apparent truths. We can settle for what we want to be right or what appears to be right. We can do that. But Jesus said, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."