Sunday, March 21, 2010

Throwing Stones?

I was moved by a prayer I heard today.  It was prayed that we might be the kind of individuals who could and would forgive the unforgivable, who would extend grace in the most difficult of situations.  As I reflected on that prayer, I was reminded of the story found in John 8:1-22.  It describes Jesus' interaction with the leaders of the church, who were about to stone a woman because she had broken the commandment thou shall not commit adultery.
"Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, "Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?" They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him."

Let me interject here, it says that the woman was caught "red-handed", and  that "they stood her in plain sight of everyone".  It occurred to me that this probably meant that they literally caught her in the act of adultery with another man, and dragged her out, perhaps naked onto the street, scared, ashamed, embarrassed and about to be stoned.  I wonder where the equally guilty man is in this situation? The story continues...

"Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, "The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone." Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt." I wonder what he was writing in the dirt, perhaps a list of the countless sins the accusers were guilty of.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. "Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?"

"No one, Master."

"Neither do I," said Jesus. "Go on your way. From now on, don't sin." 

First thought, from the last line. When we turn to Christ for forgiveness, He is faithful to forgive, and tells us to go and sin no more! As we turn to Him, we turn away from the sin which ensnared us.  As soon as we take our eyes off Christ, we can be sure that we face the danger of getting caught up in the things that trapped us in the first place.

Moving on.  Jesus said “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” At this those who heard went away until only Jesus was left, the only one standing that truly was without sin – an illustration of His divinity, and the reason that as the Son of God only He could pardon her sins.

In this instance Jesus not only encouraged repentance by revealing His mercy to this woman, but also by revealing to the accusers, their own sins.  To often we take on the task of judge and jury, when we are the least qualified to do so. If Christ himself, who was without sin, forgives us of all our sins, when we turn to Him, who are we, to throw stones at others?  To judge or in Greek "Krino" means to condemn. Jesus did not come to judge the world but to redeem it - to save it. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." ~ John 3:17. While God's word clearly states, that there will be a judgment day, where we will all stand before God and answer for our actions, I do not recall anywhere in scripture where Jesus Christ, passes judgment. Romans 14:10-12 reads, "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,  'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. "  Indeed Jesus, spoke truth, revealed through God's word the condition of each person's heart, corrected and provided rebuke, but He did not stand in judgment.

We are not to harshly judge others, but we are to rebuke, out of love. Rebuke simply means to call sin by it's rightful name for the purposes of correction. "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction." ~ 2 Timothy 4:2. If we see the need to speak with a friend or fellow Christian who is openly committing some sinful act, that is not judging them, but addressing their actions.  That does not mean we should condemn, disrespect or harshly judge someone but we should pull them aside and speak to them about it, with patience, gentleness and mercy. Always led by the Holy Spirit, with the word of God as our guide, so that they can make it right with God.
If God did not assign Jesus the task of judging and condemning others, who do we think we are to do so?

No comments:

Post a Comment