Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why go you about to kill me?…
Judging according to the appearance led the Jews into error —
I. RESPECTING THE LORD HIMSELF.
1. They never got deeper than the surface of His Person. The Christ they were expecting was one pieced up of mere outsides of the reality. What resemblance had that sorrow. stricken prophet of Nazareth to the glare and splendour of the Christ of their imagination? He came poor to look at and poor as He seemed. They had no eyes for the Divinity within.
2. There is the same shutting of the eyes now to the Divinity in His person; the same refusal to receive Him as Lord.
(1) By how many is nature regarded as greater than Christ!
(2) Many accept the opinion of the world for their idea of Christ.
(3) Some habitually exclude from their thoughts the presence of Jesus in providence.
(4) Others, staggered at their sinfulness, are blinded to the fact that in Jesus there is cleansing for all their vileness.
3. Some scriptural views which will counteract these errors and lead to a righteous judgment.
(1) It ought not to seem strange to a human being that a Divine Saviour should be human also. Man cannot draw near to an abstract God. We need one who has dwelt on earth, who has known our sorrows, and is as near to us as our nature is; and such a one is Jesus.
(2) But a merely human Saviour would not meet our need. Only God can save us. This Jesus claims to be, and the Gospels say He was, and prove it on every page.
II. RESPECTING THE WORKS OF THE SAVIOUR.
1. It was one of these that called forth the unrighteous judgment He here rebukes. About six months before He had healed the impotent man (John 5:1-9). According to appearance He had violated the Sabbath, But in the strictest sense that was such a deed as the Sabbath was appointed to suggest and promote. And the misjudging eye followed Him wherever He went, and adjudged the miracles, which were manifestations from heaven, to be a sign from hell.
2. Similar errors are found among us.
(1) His work on the cross has been judged according to appearance, and set down as martyrdom and as the last manifestation of that obedience which is a model to us. Neither of these views enter into the inner meaning of the transaction. As for the first, it is not in harmony with the law of Jesus: "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another." But our Lord sought death. As for the next, the Bible leaves no room for doubt that there was more in Christ's death than that "Christ died for the ungodly." "We have redemption through His blood," etc. The primal and essential aim of Christ's death was atonement for sin.
(2) His work in carrying on His providence. There may be an appearance of evil to God's people, while we know that "no evil shall happen to them." The Lord's dealings with them are transacted beyond the range of the outward eye. Jesus cannot be unkind to them.
III. RESPECTING THEIR OWN SPIRITUAL STATE.
1. They did not suspect their own wickedness, but seemed to themselves to be animated by zeal for God's law. There was much in appearances to foment this delusion. Had we arrived on the scene when these words were spoken, we should have concluded that some grand act of national worship was going forward; and had we heard this reference to Sabbath violation, we might have thought the people no respecters of persons in their zeal for God's law. But underneath all that show of worship was hollow unbelief, and all that zeal for "Remember the Sabbath" was a cloak for their transgression of "Thou shalt not kill."
2. Our circumstances are not dissimilar to theirs. Our Lord's day is a festival as really as that feast; but is ,our heart in Sabbath worship, and while we bow the head, are we bowing the heart? Excellent though Sabbath-keeping and Church-going are, they are apt to deceive us. And so with other religious acts. We may be very scrupulous outwardly, and yet inwardly be far from God.Conclusion:
1. The world is full of people who seem as though they were all journeying in one direction; yet part is travelling to heaven and part to hell. Whatever the outside of our lives may seem to say, we belong to one or the other. Let us ascertain by the test of a righteous judgment to which we belong.
2. We are all hastening to a day when judgment will not be according to appearance.
3. But why appeal to the future? God is passing His righteous judgments on our state and actions now. Let us be judges with God in this matter, and be satisfied with nothing that will not satisfy Him.
(A. Macleod, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?