“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
SOMETIMES WE SAY, “THERE’S MORE TO THAT PERSON THAN MEETS THE EYE.” In reality, that is true of everybody we’ve ever met. We never see anything more than the tip of the iceberg in anyone’s life, and it is hazardous to form conclusions about their character if all we have is a first impression or a superficial acquaintance.
With people (and even with situations and circumstances), discovering the whole truth requires more digging than many of us are willing to do. First impressions may get us started down the road to understanding, but finding out what is really going on usually takes patience and fact-finding. It can be hard work.
In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul admits that his previous rejection of Jesus as the Messiah was the result of having judged Him “according to the flesh.” Eventually, however, Paul came to see that the truth about Jesus was something that could not be seen if all one did was look at outward, worldly appearances. So as we form our own opinions about Jesus, let’s think of two important principles.
(1) Sometimes we need to find out more of the facts before we draw a conclusion. Given the far-reaching implications of the question, it is amazing how many people reject Jesus while knowing very little of His life and teachings from the original sources. Whatever our ultimate decision turns out to be, surely that decision needs to be based on more than a few tidbits of information.
(2) But also, we need to be careful about the criteria we use to make our evaluation. Even when we have a lot of information about a person, our assessment of their character is determined by the value system we apply to them, and this is especially critical when it comes to Jesus. If Jesus truly was the Son of God, we would not expect that truth to be obvious to us if our “eyes” can only see the things that this world considers to be important.
So may we avoid judging Jesus “according to the flesh.” There is more to Him than meets the eye. May we appraise Him carefully — and appraise His inner character the most carefully of all.
“Jesus Christ always speaks from the source of things; consequently those who deal only with the surface find him an offense” (Oswald Chambers).