Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bethany Bullet - February 23, 2011

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” - Matthew 7:3

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Cast the First Stone

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This clip records an account found in the 8th chapter of John’s Gospel. We do not know about this woman’s family or her history; in fact all we know is her immorality. Yet she has much to teach us about hypocrisy. She is caught in the act of adultery. I’m not going to review the Bullet about the Golden Rule and lust again, but let me set the stage…

This woman lived in the day and age where there were no magazines sold in brown paper wrap, when the most intimate and personal of events were not merely a click away, there wasn’t a pony express so obviously (900) numbers had not been invented either. My point…there had to be another person with her.

What does the text say? She was caught IN THE ACT. They didn’t deduce that she had, they didn’t determine she might, they didn’t discover what was – they caught her while doing. So what’s my point? Why is it that she is the only one being dragged out before Jesus? Where is the ‘he’ who she was with? Why is only one threatened with the noose while apparently another is set loose? Could it be that the one that shared these men’s gender was excused? Could it be that he was an acquaintance while she was a stranger? Could it be that they simply would not be willing to hold themselves to their own standard? So, they let the man go, but they were more than happy to make sure the standard stood and dragged her to the Lord? I don’t know, but I do know that behind this scene is a group who has judged, convicted, and are ready to condemn. They also figured they could get “two for the price of one” so a trap is set for Jesus. This is hypocrisy at its highest.

You heard what Jesus said, “You without sin throw the first stone.” Now just imagine if Jesus said:

  • “You who recognize that this is sin cast the first stone.” This woman would have needed the miracle of resurrection rather than restoration, right?
  • “You who think they are less guilty than this woman throw the first stone.” She would have needed Jesus to turn stones into bread mid-flight to save her, right?

But that isn’t what Jesus said. Hear His words again, “You who recognize sin in her and can find none in yourself, cast the first stone!” Jesus could have, He could have picked up a stone and thrown it at her. He was (and is) without sin. Instead, He allowed them to drop their stones, one by one, and walk away until no one was left. Only one stone remained. The one He let be rolled in front of the tomb where He laid lifeless. Jesus sacrificed on a cross in order to forgive the sin of the woman dragged before Him, to forgive those who dragged her to Him, and to forgive us for dragging our heels in ceasing hypocrisy.

When Jesus calls us to address the “planks in our eyes”, He is not saying that the church is impotent and Christians must be silent in regard to identifying sin as sin, or calling sinners to repentance. Jesus, Himself, says to that woman, “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.”

It is one thing to hold on to something with veracity, it is another to pass a verdict. It is one thing to have a conviction; it is another to convict the person. It is one thing to be repulsed by sin (and we should be) it is another to claim that we are superior (when we’re not) or that someone else, because of their sin is beyond God’s grace (for no one is).

Think back to that woman dragged before Jesus and those whose hands were holding stones. Can you relate to the mob? Think again…Ever cast an allegation? Ever thrown aspersions? Ever hurled accusations? This portion of the Golden Rule doesn’t mean we can’t call the world to repentance and proclaim what is godly and good. It simply means we can’t act or speak as if the sins of others are greater than our own, because they are not. Whether lying in the dirt, sitting on the pew, or reading from a screen we all need to be found in the same place: at the feet of Jesus and receive from Him that which we all desperately need and are all equally unworthy of - His forgiveness.

The Cross is the most glorious example of doing unto others; God does, in Christ, unto Himself so that we are not done in. As those who would keep the Golden Rule we can begin by not throwing stones at others but throwing ourselves before the Stone the builders rejected (Jesus Christ) and then even when identifying sin find ourselves leading others to the stone rolled away (Christ’s resurrection), that rather than binding them in our judgment we might see them set free through Christ’s forgiveness.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” - John 3:17

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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