John 7:21-24 WEB
Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel because of it.  Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a boy.  If a boy receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me, because I made a man completely healthy on the Sabbath?  Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
I have always wondered how to define “righteous judgment.” Then, when I read the above verses, I realized, the Bible is full of Christ’s judgments. If there is anyone who gives righteous judgments it’s Jesus. Most people are familiar with the Lord’s judgments against religious leaders. However, the Lord made all sorts of righteous judgments. Three that caught my attention include the demoniac of Gadarenes, the woman who receives scraps under the table, and the believing centurion.
Luke 8:27-39 is the story of the demoniac of Gadarenes. The main judgment in this cautionary tale is against the people of Gadarenes. After silencing the demons in the man and finding out their name, Jesus sends the spirits into a herd of pigs and the pigs die. When the people of Gadarenes learn of the financial loss, they ask Jesus to leave.
There is a bit of misdirection at play here by the author of the book of Luke. While the reader is focused on the demoniac, Jesus judges the townspeople. The people of Gadarenes do not express a word of praise that a man’s life was saved. Nor do they express a word of remorse for raising pigs, something no believing Jewish person would do. Instead, they focus on the financial loss. Moreover, the townspeople do not seem to recognize they are being judged. The righteous judgment is, one single human being has more value than money. Even when that money is the lively hood of an entire town of God’s people.
Next, I have always liked the story of the woman who received scraps under the table. In Mark 7:24-30 we learn the woman is Greek and has a daughter who is demonized. The woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter and he deflects her request calling her a dog. However, instead of getting upset or discouraged, the woman presses into the hope of God’s goodness and humbles herself before the Lord. He says she has great faith and heals her daughter.
This is another interesting use of distraction. While everyone is focused on Jesus calling the woman a dog, he judges his disciples for their prejudice. The Lord reveals the prejudice of the disciples when he grants the woman’s request. At the same time, he judges their arrogance for believing Jewish people are better than all others. The righteous judgment of the Lord in this story is all believing people can receive from God, even those others call unworthy.
Finally, Matthew 8:5-16 is the story of the Centurion’s faith. As Jesus enters Capernaum, he is approached by a Roman Centurion. The man asks Jesus to heal his paralyzed and tormented servant. When Jesus agrees to come, the Centurion says if he will only say a word, it will be enough. He goes on to explain his understanding of authority and expresses great faith at the same time.
Interestingly, this judgment explores the faith of the disciples compared to the faith of a Roman Soldier. The soldier is judged faithful, and his servant is healed. Meanwhile, Peter’s mother is sick. Instead of asking the Lord to say a word of authority for her healing, the disciples wait until Jesus can touch her. Peter’s mother does not get healed until Christ arrives. Finally, Jesus goes on to deliver and heal all who are sick or demonized.
The judgments in this tale compare the faith of the disciples to that of a believing Roman. They also compare the compassion of Christ against the compassion of the disciples. The judgment here is that the disciples are found less faithful than one they consider to be an enemy and God responds with goodness to all who come in faith.
What ties all these judgments together? God’s love. Jesus loves all people, and he calls judgments righteous that recognize the worth and acceptance of all believers. Rebuking prejudice, faithlessness, and hardness of heart, Jesus uses righteous judgments to adjust the disciples’ thinking. More, Jesus does not call out the shame of his disciples directly. Instead, he protects them while he heals their hearts and corrects their thinking. Lastly, these judgments are all indirect which probably means those with unbelieving hearts would miss the true meaning.
Lord Jesus, please teach me to judge righteously. Forgive me for past unrighteous judgments and reveal to me how you would judge the circumstances and situations of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.