John 7:24 “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” New Living Translation
Jesus is telling His hearers to look beneath the surface of the law—to look beyond the letter of the law to God’s intent. The context is His teaching that they shouldn’t be angry about His healing on the Sabbath because they broke Moses’ law in circumcising their sons on the Sabbath.
This teaching ties in with the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, “You have heard it said ‘thus and so,’ but I say to you ‘this instead.’” Jesus makes the same point when He says that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Maybe the Pharisees were focusing on the fence instead of enjoying God’s pasture. They knew the rules, but they didn’t know God. So they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah (John 7:28).
The lesson to me is that pleasing God isn’t about keeping certain rules or doing everything just right, but about listening to His heart and acting accordingly.