The Life of Jesus Christ: Jesus and Judgment

June 28, 2020 :: Matthew 7:1-12

I’ve often wondered if John 3:16 is not the most well-known biblical address, but that Matthew 7:1 is the most well known biblical verse. Many would know the phrase “John 3:16” but may not know what it actually says. Many more would know “do not judge lest you be judged” but probably don’t know where that is found in the bible. Well, it’s Matthew 7:1, and Jesus said it. But that’s not all He said on the matter.

This is our third installment on Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5-7. More than sixty years ago, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones taught a series through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and he did so in thirty sermons. We are giving it three. May I suggest that even Lloyd-Jones did not plumb the depths of the sermon in the better part of a year, and therefore we will not aim to do so in just a few weeks. The best we can do is intentionally stand in the sermon’s path, humbly open our hearts and minds, and be transformed by it. That is our hope again today as we continue our series through the Life of Jesus Christ.

Just like in our text last week, Matthew 6, and indeed much of Jesus’ sermon, He seems to have the Pharisees much in His mind when He speaks about judgment in Matthew 7. Jesus used and employed judgment. His followers are to do the same (see John 7:24). But there is a negative type of condemning and separating judgment that should be avoided, with rare exceptions. This is, of course, the kind of judgment expressed by the words and actions of the Pharisees. Consider the words of Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:36-50.

When the Pharisees, scribes and “doctors” of the Law saw a sinner or sin, they rushed backwards to condemn, isolating the sinner and protecting themselves. When Jesus encountered a sinner, He rushed forward to redeem, engaging the sinner and identifying with them. Often He would commend their faith and then command, “go and sin no more.”

Jesus’ humorous parable of two men with different sized eye-ailments is intended to illustrate the ridiculous nature of arrogant judgment by man. There is only one ultimate Judge, and only His word will matter in the final judgment. The illustration of dogs and pigs is also one of contrast, intended to illustrate another angle of positive judgment (discriminating opportunities and risk) in order to maintain the proper amount of tension in this matter of godly wisdom.

The idea of “the blind leading the blind” is a common expression of complete folly. But consider the foolishness of a blind optometrist or ophthalmologist. This is more what Jesus was after with His words.

Next, Jesus craftily weaves a comparison of relationships - human to divine and divine to human. The specific focus is the humble act of asking. This is not unrelated to what has come before. In many ways, humble asking is quite the opposite of arrogant judging. While the one admits need and identifies power or provision outside of himself, the other admits lack of need and complete independence.

Jesus now asks you to consider your own human relationships, inside the family, in perfectly optimal circumstances. A good father, in this situation, would give good gifts to his children because of His love and connection. Jesus translates this up to your engagement with your Heavenly Father in prayer. He too, desires to give good gifts, holding nothing back. Then, between the lines, Jesus’ encouragement runs back down hill to human relationships. If we humbly ask our Heavenly Father for the things we cannot get on our own, then we should ask humbly make requests of others for the relational needs we have instead of manipulating or attempting to control.

The final statement of our text today is Matthew 7:12, the so-called “golden rule of life and living.” Sometimes expressed in the negative, this ethic is found in many cultures and philosophies from ancient times. While some might suspect that makes Jesus a plagiarist, I believe quite the opposite. Jesus goes on to say that considering your treatment of others based on their ideal treatment of you, perfectly summarizes or contains “the Law and the Prophets” of the Old Testament. This is quite a statement.

In our text today, the focus is on you, your heart, your attitude, your actions. In this way, it’s always about the log. It’s always about the asking. It’s always about the treating of others, not their treatment of you. The way in which you understand God and His work in your life is the determining factor in the way you engage others. Let me put it this way, what God has done in you is always the most powerful truth of the moment.

Family Discussion Questions:
  1. Have you ever felt judged by someone else? Share a brief story.
  2. When have you wrongly judged someone else by how they looked, what they sounded like or a false assumption you made about him/her? Share a brief story.
  3. What is the point of Jesus’ statement “do not judge so that you will not be judged”?
  4. What is the funniest part of Jesus’ story of the man with a speck of dust in his eye and the man with a large 2x4 board in his eye? What is Jesus trying to illustrate?
  5. Share a story about a time you were afraid to ask for something, and chose rather to go about it a different way.
  6. Why do you think God invites us to ask Him for things?
  7. What do you dislike most about how others treat you? Name your top three. Now, when have you been guilty of doing this to others?

Small Group Discussion Questions:
  1. Compare and contrast Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-2 and John 7:24. Context may help. Discuss with your group.
  2. Describe a negative kind of “judgment” that should be shunned, and a positive kind of “judgment” that should be maintained.
  3. What is the rhetorical impact of Jesus’ illustration of the man with a speck of dust in his eye and the other may with a 2x4 in his eye? What is Jesus’ point?
  4. In Matthew 6:2-18, we saw Jesus refer to others as “hypocrites.” Here in Matthew 7:5, He calls us a hypocrite. Why?
  5. How do you understand Matthew 7:6? Is it connected to the context of judgment in the verses before? Is it in an independent context? Is it connected with what comes after? Share and discuss.
  6. What are the implications for human relationships in Matthew 7:7-8?
  7. How does Jesus connect human relationships with man’s engagement with God - called “your Father who is in heaven” - in this section? Is it a comparison from lesser to greater - greater to lesser - both - neither?
  8. What is Jesus’ main application or teaching point in 7:7-11?
  9. How can Jesus sum up the whole of the Law and the Prophets with a simple ethical statement? Discuss in your group.
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