Saturday, August 16, 2014

Two Groups

“Then the scribes and Pharisees [religious people] brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.  So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  - John 8:2-7

There are two groups in this story and a lesson to be learned by looking at each of them.

First, there are the religious people, the ones who feel that within themselves they have a responsibility to carry out justice for God.  What they did actually started long before the story.

To have brought the woman before Jesus, they had to have been either in an adulterous relationship with her, or listening to the stories of her sins as told by others.  (I think we call that gossiping, which is also a sin.)

Then they become so outraged by her sin that they felt they had to act – they had to take matters into their own hands.  There’s no mention of gentle rebuke, correction in private, but they brought her and sat her in the “midst” of them, making a spectacle of her sins.  And they didn’t just bring her anywhere, but to a temple where Jesus was teaching a large group of people.  They inflicted shame and guilt.

The very words they spoke to Jesus show their hearts.  They spoke of the law of Moses that required anyone who commits adultery [sleeping with another person’s spouse] be killed by stoning.   And, because accusing the woman wasn’t bringing enough satisfaction, they sought to accuse Jesus as well.  God’s word says “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.”  Let’s just call this first group the Accuser.

Then there’s Jesus, the second group.  Picture it.  He’s kneeling to the ground in the temple.  He’s appearing to not hear them at all - and most likely because He is listening to a Higher Voice, the voice of God.  He said in John 5:19 that He did nothing except what He saw the Father doing.  He was led by God.

He’s scribbling in the dust, and though we do not know what He wrote, I suspect at that very moment God was reciting to Him a list of their sins.  I suspect He wrote “liars, gossipers, riotous spirits, prideful, sowers of discord, unloving” and much more.  Then He that had no sin at all stands, and says “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And He, being the only one qualified to do so, never picked up a stone.  Let’s call Jesus, in a group alone in this context, the Friend.

God’s word speaks about these two groups on several occasions.  The accusers represent satan, the “accuser of the brethren”, and those that would take his role upon themselves. 

“Let my accusers be clothed with shame, And let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle.” – Psalms 109:29

 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down [into Hell], who accuses them day and night before our God.” – Revelation 12:10

Of Jesus, the Friend of Man, we read these verses:

“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears;“ – Isaiah 11:2-3 [on how Jesus will judge]

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17

“And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ “ – Luke 7:31-34, Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Friends, there are times when we are called to assist a brother or sister who has fallen into sin.  But in those times, judgment is still in God’s hands – not our own.  We are called to correct them by being honest in a loving way (Ephesians 4:15 ) and a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).  We are told to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).  We are not to display hatred and anger toward those that are in sin, but to befriend them in correction, showing them the love of God.

A friend loves at all times.  An accuser serves satan.

“Judging a person does not define who they are – but who you are.” - Anon

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