Thursday, December 7, 2017

Discover Part 3

Submitted by Jim Garner

When was the last time someone did something so nice for you that it totally blew you away? (Maybe it was when you received a really special gift on your birthday or Christmas) Let’s think about this question from a different perspective. When was the last time someone showed you incredible love and forgiveness when you didn’t deserve it? (Maybe someone forgave you when you had gossiped, got upset over something small, or you weren’t totally honest with them)
It’s definitely nice to be blessed by someone, especially when we don’t deserve it. You could even say it can be overwhelming, maybe even life changing.  We all need love, forgiveness, and grace. We need to receive it and we definitely need to give it. Why? Because it’s been given to us in a way that we never deserved by God himself. Let’s check out a story from the gospels when Jesus encountered a woman who needed a lot of grace.
John 8:1-11
but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midstthey said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
A lot of Jesus regular ministry involved teaching people at the temple. There were always people there – religious leaders and everyday people who were coming to offer sacrifices or hear spiritual teaching. It was a common place that most people gathered at some time. There are various stories scattered through the gospels of religious leaders coming before Jesus with questions. Sometimes they were sincere but many times they were meant to embarrass, test, or trap Jesus when he responded to them. (Funny how they always failed too) We have another example here.
I’m pretty sure of all the places in the world that this is one of them the woman did not want to be. She was probably feeling guilt, shame, humiliation, failure, despair, and fear. Why fear? Verse 5 tells us that according to Mosaic Law that she should be stoned to death. (Yikes! It got real serious real fast. She had no hope unless this Jesus guy could do something about it) Even if she wasn’t too religious or following Jesus, she had probably heard of him since he had become a cultural phenomenon.
I’m sure this was not the place or time she wanted to meet him.  But she was going to be glad he was there.
In the passage it says two different times that  Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground”. I wonder what he wrote? Maybe he was doodling. Maybe he was writing out the Ten Commandments, which talked about adultery. Maybe he was listing sins of the people who had brought the woman to him. We don’t know for sure but its kind of fun to think about. Personally, I like to think he was writing things about the accusers and their sins as a reminder to them of their failures and need of grace as well.
Jesus wasn’t afraid of these men or the situation. It says he stood up (sign of authority) and shared one of the most grace-filled statements we have ever heard in verse 7: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  I can only imagine there was complete silence and realization that the accusers had been humbled. Yes, some left there feeling guilt, shame, and humiliation. However, I think a lot more left the scene feeling hope, grace, and love like they had never experienced before. They knew they were sinners too and needed grace like Jesus had just shown this woman. There was hope for a relationship with God himself and not just the same old religion. Eventually it was just Jesus and the woman standing before Him. He told her that He didn’t condemn her and to go leaving her life of sin. Jesus accepted her for who she was and the condition she came to Him in. But she was to not remain in it any longer. There was complete love, forgiveness, and grace found in Christ alone.

To Consider
·      What’s the latest situation where you’ve found yourself “caught in sin” like this woman?
·      Where do you need to receive love, grace, and forgiveness in your life?
·      Where do you need to give love, grace, and forgiveness in your life?
·      Have you ever been on the side of “judgment” like these accusers forgetting the “grace” God has shown you? (Beware of pride!)

Pray Today…

That we personally have experienced and understand God’s grace, and live a life of grace rather than pride or self-righteousness.

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