Jesus is hated by the world, claims to speak a message from God, lived a life that was uniquely beyond every reproach, and continues to transform lives all over the world.
“Do not judge by appearances.” Sound advice. Sometimes people, books, and even foods can surprise you. But actually that isn’t a pithy proverb promoting discernment in dating or a more investigative approach to shopping. Jesus said it. In fact, he said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” And he said it about himself.
In John 7 we read about the Feast of Tabernacles, the third, and favourite, annual pilgrim feast of the Jews. The chapter starts with Jesus’ non-believing half-brothers trying to goad him into taking the stage at Israel’s Got Talent and doing some of his miracles to announce himself where it mattered, at the heart of the nation. He refuses to go to Jerusalem on their terms, but then goes up secretly. The whole town is talking about him anyway, muttering and wondering if he’ll show.
He does. In the middle of the Feast he heads into the temple area and starts teaching publicly. A few verses later he urges everyone to judge him with right judgment (v24). Let’s note four things that they, and we, should evaluate based on this first part of John 7:
1. Why does the world hate Jesus?
In verse 7 Jesus tells his brothers that the world hates him. In verse 19 he flags the fact that some are seeking to kill him. We see that hatred all through John’s Gospel, and we still see it today. Why is Jesus so despised by a world that claims values that Jesus could be seen to champion? Our world celebrates its own compassion and its action on behalf of the oppressed and hurting – Jesus demonstrated compassion and took action for the sake of hungry crowds, foreigners facing dislike, vulnerable women and children, the lame, the deaf, and the blind. Our world talks about inter-racial unity – Jesus made a despised Samaritan the hero of one of his most famous stories, fed a crowd of four thousand Gentiles when the disciples didn’t consider that a possibility, and so on. Jesus could be the figurehead for so many of the values celebrated today, and yet he seems to be hated so easily. Why is that?