In this world, judging by appearances is almost the norm. As humans we tend to make up our minds within seconds or minutes of meeting people for the first time and judge them according to our own set of biases or prejudices. But it is wrong to do so for often the basis of such judgement is flawed and does not rest upon the truth or reality.
Jesus was judged by appearances in this section of the scripture by the Pharisees and they were wrong. They failed to recognise who Jesus was based on their own set of rules and they were prejudiced against him. As such they missed the Christ and Messiah they were waiting for and failed to gain the gifts He offered.
In this scripture the man who was born blind had just been healed by Jesus through anointing his eyes with clay and washing in the Pool of Siloam. The man was taken to the Pharisees and shown to them and asked to explain how he had received his sight, which he did.
Now the catch here was that this miracle Jesus had performed was on the sabbath Day. The Pharisees then were immediately blinded by their prejudices saying about Jesus, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” (Verse 16) Others though were perplexed by this position and rightly opposed their bias by saying, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” (Verse 16)
The Pharisees declared Jesus to be a sinner because he healed on the sabbath. They were so deeply steeped in the law that they could not see past it and so they condemned the Lord as a sinner despite the good He had done by releasing a man bound by infirmity so that he could be free to see.
Prejudice and Bias
Prejudice and bias are terrible things. They cause people to become blinded to the truth. Just as the Pharisees were blinded to the truth of who and what Jesus was, so too we may be blinded to the truth if we allow prejudice to stand in our way.
The analogy in this healing is tremendous. Those who lived in prejudice and bias became blind because of it. They failed to see the good that was done because they could not see past their prejudice.
But the man who was healed received his sight and the ability to see clearly. We see him testify to this effect when the Pharisees question him. They said to the man who was healed, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes? He said, “He is a prophet.” (Verse 17)
This man not only had his physical eyes opened, but his spiritual eyes for he saw Jesus for what He is, a man of God. He had not yet spoken to Jesus, which he does later and finds out he is more than just a prophet and is actually the Son of God, but at this point the man knows Jesus is from God.
And here is the conundrum. Prejudice and bias blind a person to the truth. But when a person comes to Jesus their eyes are opened so that they can see clearly.
And especially when you are biased by the law, as the Pharisees were, it is only through coming to Jesus that you can learn to see clearly. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 3:14-16.
14 But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.
15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds;
16 but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
The prejudice and bias of the law under the Old Covenant will blind you to the truth of Jesus Christ. But that prejudice and bias, the veil of the law, is removed when we come to Jesus Christ and learn how to live His way.
A Way Forward
So how do we take this teaching today and move forward? First, consider what are the prejudices and biases that plague you? You may not even think you have any prejudices and biases, but as human beings we almost certainly do have them at some level.
Look at these kinds of things. Do you not like certain people for any reason? Do some people annoy you or they grate on your nerves when you come into contact with them? What about prejudices of race, religion, creed, gender, physical limitations, handicaps and so on? Do you suffer from any of these things?
Now consider this. Do you think the Lord cares any more or less about ANY person who is seeking His truth based upon any of the above? Of course He doesn’t! Jesus came to save sinners. Not just black ones, white ones, handicapped ones and so on, but ALL sinners. And His people are everywhere. They will be found in all of the churches regardless of the particular creed or denomination of the church for they will even be found in that false religion He calls Babylon, that will be judged harshly as discussed in Revelation. He says,
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;
5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
So His people are even there and so we cannot hold a prejudice against anyone on the basis of their religion. Indeed we must reject all forms of prejudice and bias as Christians so that we can become like Christ. He did not judge and nor should we, let alone judge falsely by appearances as the Pharisees did in this section of scripture.
So instead we need to be like the people of Beroea who listened to Paul and Silas as they preached the word. They did not just accept at face value what was said but hey tested the information against the scriptures to ensure it accorded with the truth.
10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroe’a; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.
11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessaloni’ca, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
They were examining the scriptures to make sure that what was said was correct. And when they did they discovered the truth for they too were looking for the Messiah, as were all the Jews and they found Him in Jesus. Thus many believed and found the blessing of the Lord.
This is the path forward. Reject your biases, prejudices and judging by appearances and listen to the Lord. When someone preaches a word to you, examine it and test it against the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Look at it in your Bible to find out if it all hangs together, for I know from many years of study and experience, the word of God is not contradictory or confusing.
Prejudice will blind you, but coming to the Lord in faith and seeking will open your eyes so you can see.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Sanja Gjenero)