Why Was Jesus So Judgmental?
That’s right. You heard me right.
Mostly, Jesus is framed as gentle, mild, and somewhat permissive–as if we are all imperfect and my ‘buddy’ Jesus understands and doesn’t care about my shortfalls and misgivings. That also seems to give Jesus a willfully ignorant personal. But that is not entirely accurate.
This comes into play when someone makes a ‘mistake’, does something that is destructive, gets caught doing something wrong, perhaps engages in behavior that is borderline, or even displays something that is not a social norm. Often people who are (and aren’t) Christians will invoke this image of Jesus while challenging back with, “Don’t judge me! Jesus doesn’t.”
This generally happens when someone involved in the situation is (or claims to be) a Christian. What they/we (because we’ve all said it) are really saying is, “Leave me alone. You’re making me uncomfortable by making me think about my actions.” This is particularly popular to say in the context of cussing, smoking, excessive drinking (and drug experimentation), extramarital sex, and even hot-button topics like abortion and homosexuality.
Most of the time, the story of Jesus being asked to judge the woman caught in adultery is referenced as the rule (the gospel of John, chapter 8).
If you don’t know the story, the religious people in a specific town tried to entrap Jesus so they could find a reason to kill him. What they did was trick a woman into commit adultery, caught her in the act, and brought her to the town square to stone her (of course, the first question is, where was the guy?). In his brilliance, Jesus answers the religious people with, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” With that, they all dropped their rocks and split.
But did you know Jesus judged the woman after all that? That’s right. The last words Jesus said to her was, “Go and sin no more.”
How terrible! How dare Jesus judge her actions after all that. How could Jesus be so insensitive and offensive. Didn’t he know that might damage her self-esteem and feed her depression?
So what’s the point of the story?
Jesus had a real problem with people claiming to represent God, while misrepresenting Him at the same time. This broke peoples connection with God and skewed their view of Him. And didn’t Jesus come to teach people how much God loved them?
Be sure though, God (and Jesus) still took (and takes) actions (and sin) seriously. It’s still important. Justice matters, but not under the umbrella of hypocrisy. There can be no true justice where there is no truth (in fact, those are lyrics i once wrote while in Strongarm).
To take matters a step further, when we die, it is Jesus who will judge every action of every person and issue rewards (and punishment) accordingly (Revelation 20).
This makes Jesus the most judgmental person ever.
Why do I say this? Because actions matter. And if you claim to be a follower, and therefore a representative, of Jesus, then your actions really matter and can be commented on.
Uncomfortable isn’t it?
And if you are not a Christian, well then that’s another story. Actions still matter, but in a different way. I suppose I draw the line of commenting on your actions at: Are you breaking the law? Are you asking my opinion? Do we have a relationship? Are you going to hurt me or someone I love with your actions? Overall, I mind my own business unless the above conditions are met (as a concerned citizen or friend, etc.). But I suppose this is another conversation…
Actions matter. And sometimes we need to comment and discuss (or even judge) them. But perhaps we can do it with the gentleness that Jesus did when he was talking to the woman caught in adultery.
Make no mistake, Jesus was judgmental. He just judged in a way that was saturated in love and compassion.