Nobody likes to be judged. We defend ourselves, protect ourselves, make excuses and explanations for ourselves. We quote Jesus out of context saying, “Judge not that you be not judged” or make ridiculous statements such as “Only God can judge me.” We bristle against the idea of being judged. In John 5, the Pharisees have judged Jesus. If you recall, Jesus healed a man that had been disabled for 38 years and then told him to pick up his bed and walk. The problem was that Jesus did all this on the Sabbath, He used His power to heal and then He commanded the man to carry his bed, in the minds of the religious Jews He broke the Sabbath himself and then He caused someone else to break it. The good news of the miracle got lost in the need to pass judgment. We read the passage and are excited about the miracle, the Pharisees heard about it and were angered at what they saw as Jesus’ blatant disregard for God’s law and their self-appointed job to make sure the law was followed as they believed it should be. Jesus, in His kindness and generosity didn’t disregard the objections and judgment of the Pharisees, but instead He answered them saying, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Jesus was graciously trying to show them that they didn’t rightly understand the law because they didn’t fully know the Father. He was pointing out that the Law didn’t belong to them, so they weren’t the ones who could control it. He was showing them that the only way to keep the Law was to know the Judge. He was working to take them from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law. He was, as we talk about so often, trying to change their perspective by offending their senses. Jesus healed on the Sabbath on purpose, He told the man to carry his bed on purpose, He was creating an opportunity for the religious Jews to judge Him so that He could show them the power of His mercy in the midst of their judgment. This is what God does, He breaks the walls of the boxes that we place Him in, He enlarges our small ways of thinking, He expands our very limited understanding so that He can teach us that when the Judge loves you, His judgments are all covered in mercy. This passage of Scripture takes us from Jesus being judged to revealing that He Himself is the Judge. It doesn’t just call us to life it reveals that we are in fact dead and it teaches us that in the heart and character of God judgement leads to mercy. I pray today that we will embrace the judgment of God in our lives so that we can live from the mercy we have received rather than living like the Pharisees, in fear of the judgement that could come.

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