About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.

Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
— John 7:14-24 ESV

Read the entire chapter here.

This chapter of John sits right in between two chapters that are full of miracles that Jesus performs. When you first glance at this chapter it doesn't seem like there is much to talk about, but there is a pretty relevant message Jesus sends here that I think can be easily overlooked. Re-read verses 14-24 at the top of the page. 

At the temple, Jesus is surrounded by people who are very well versed on the Law of Moses. Before Jesus came and fulfilled the Law through His sacrifice, there were a ton of rules and rituals for God's people to follow in order to be considered clean and forgiven. The people that Jesus was speaking to in these verses had a tendency to treat the Law like a checklist and use it to condemn people around them who didn't seem to be checking things off right. In other words, the Law was a really easy way for them to compare and become prideful about how much better they were than the people around them based on really surface level things.

The truth that Jesus shares in John 7 is reflected in a story that he tells in Luke 18. He compares two people praying—a pharisee and a tax collector. The pharisee is very religious and concerned about outward appearances while the tax collector is humble and asks God to save him. Jesus points to the tax collector as being restored because he gave God his heart instead of a checklist. God made each of us to love Him uniquely, individually, and He is honestly only concerned with your heart. There is no magic formula, there is no perfect routine, there is no check list. There is only your heart, and no matter what you see when you look at it, the only thing God asks is that we bring whatever is in there to Him. Stop looking at the people around you for the "right way" or "wrong way" and just give your heart to Him. Over and over again, when it looks nice and when it looks ugly, give it to Him. He wants to heal the broken parts and bring you into the freedom of being able to celebrate everyone around you, by showing you that your value doesn't hang in the balance of how you stack up next to them. 

pray

Jesus, help me remember that you just want me. That you dreamed me up and wanted me specifically. I give my heart to You, especially when it looks like what You're opposed to and I trust You to change it and make it look more like Yours every time.

- Billie Anne Hardigree

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