If you ever want to see frustration, nay pure anger, watch a fan’s reaction to a referee’s blown call. Sometimes the referee is totally blind to the infraction—sometimes the referee calls the wrong player or team.
It is called “the Hand of God.” In the 1986 World Cup semifinal game between England and Argentina, striker Diego Maradona seemingly leaps into the air to head the ball into the goal. “GOOOAL!” The stadium erupts…the English players are all protesting, grabbing their hands to indicate a handball. That’s what the replay clearly shows but the refs stick with their call…England losing the game 2-1. After the game, Maradona (haughty and guiltless) said that he scored with a little help from the Hand of God.
You and I make a lot of blown calls, too. When my grandfather passed away, I received a number of his tools. And one day as I was using them for a project, I came across a carpenter’s square marked “not square.”
Now that would be odd in and of itself, but about a year later I came across a level marked “not plumb.” What’s up with keeping those?! I would think I would want to throw them away ASAP. Can you imagine how he came to know that these tools couldn’t make the right measurements? “Umm…hate to tell you this, Roscoe. But that window doesn’t look right, it’s cock-eyed.” But he kept these tools anyway! What purpose—other than ownership—could they serve?!
I see a lot of similarities in our Exodus passage, today. The people aren’t seeing straight—they haven’t honestly measured their hearts—their actions, their dreams, their expectations, their thoughts—against God’s heart. They are not straight, not plumb! Yet, they keep their broken rulers instead of getting rid of them!
Jesus addresses this poor measurement, too. It is in the great Sermon on the Mount—his core teaching. Jesus pulls no punches—he is brutal in his assessment of the human heart and human effort. Here, in verses 7:1-5, he talks about humanity’s estimation of its judgement.
“Don’t judge, or you will be judged.” Folks that is a tough broad-ranging statement. Do you know what the biblical word used covers—the Greek work κρίνω means judgement, opinion, estimation, preferences, etc. The scholars I looked up this week made the point of saying it was universal and final. We aren’t even to have a favorite food! That’s crazy, Jesus!
God and Moses seemed crazy to the Israelites as they were being led to the Promised Land. Jesus seemed crazy to those around him…even to us, today. Crazy…off…not quite right in the head…not square, not plumb.
If we are using measuring tools that are not accurate, off course, the Bible, Truth, and God will seem “off.” But who is really off—who is really using the accurate tools? Verse two has a harsh truth: the way you measure anyone (remember that universal, radical κρίνω)…it will be used to measure you by God.
That is not Good News, Friends. Honestly reflect on how you assess others in their lives, their faith, and so on. If it is based on your rules or even your estimation of God’s rules…you're off. Our rulers and levels are broken…Lent is a season where we’re to remember that…to confess that!
So, where is the Good News?! In the Exodus story…God still blesses his cock-eyed people—He provides them with life-giving water. In the Jesus-story…God gives His people a real ruler, that is true, and measures plumb to perfection. (Point to the Cross) And there it is.
The Cross of Jesus Christ is how I want to be measured…Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace…Hope for a New Life. A life that, because of Christ in me—the Holy Spirit dwelling in me with His excellent measurement skill—can have a shot of seeing the world right.
Jesus ends the short message on judgement by calling everyone who makes any sort of assessment to remember this: you’ve got a big old beam of poor measurement in your eyes…why don’t you focus on getting rid of your carpenter’s square that isn’t at all square, first…why don’t you focus on getting rid of your level that doesn’t show a true plumb, first. Then, pick up the true measure…the one I used. Measure yourself and others with it…I found it worked pretty well.
Friends, I know I need to pick up that measuring tool and get rid of my old, cock-eyed ones. I know how I want to be judged…I want that (Cross) and only it. So I better start using Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness…hoping for new life in me and in others.
May it be so for the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.