Tag Archives: Messiah

The Accused

Whether you are honestly guilty or completely innocent it hurts to be the accused, especially if that accusation becomes part of your identity.

In John 8 we read about Jesus’ reaction to the accusers, which in this instance happened to be the religious leaders. What a shame! John 8 is set on the Mount of Olives as Jesus enters the temple at dawn and begins teaching. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. Now remember this is pre-Christianity and the religious leaders are still operating under the law of Moses in which it says in Deuteronomy 22 that any woman caught in adultery should be stoned. At this moment when the religious leaders rush this woman into the temple, interrupting Jesus’ teaching, they are hoping he will disobey Moses’ law so they catch him going against God’s orders. Surely he could not disobey the law of Moses’ and still be God’s son, the Messiah. Or could he? As the Pharisees and the teachers of the law banded together questioning Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (talk about a loaded question) Jesus kneels down and begins writing on the ground. Now the Bible does not tell us what exactly he wrote, but we can assume it was something convicting to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law because as he wrote and asked, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” one by one they left the scene. So many left that eventually it was only Jesus and the woman left there. And do you know what happened?

Jesus did not stone the woman even though he was without sin and could have stoned her. He didn’t tell her to pack her bags and send her on a giant guilt trip. He didn’t say, “I told you so!” There’s a million, zillion things we do to shame people when we ourselves have done just the same, but he didn’t give her any punishment.

I recently heard of an artist named Steve Rosenfield who founded the “What I be Project.” He asked his subjects to fill in the blank “I am not my ____.” It could be anything. Their answers ranged from addictions to disabilities. Each subject chose a phrase which was written on them in black marker. He brings his subjects deepest insecurities to the forefront in order to bring awareness, but beyond that, freedom, instead of imprisonment, to those who do not fit the social norm. When I first looked at his work I felt uncomfortable, uneasy. Looking at others’ insecurities brought my own to the surface, but after imagining how they might feel, recognizing myself in their stories, I feel a sense of relief and peace because we were made to receive and give mercy. Looking at his work helped me receive mercy.

Think about Jesus’ actions kneeling on the temple floor. When all had left the room and it was just the woman and Jesus here is what he said, “Then neither do I condemn you.” Is there an area where you need to receive mercy? Or someone in your life to whom you need to show mercy?

 

“There is no God like you. You forgive those who are guilty of sin; you don’t look at the sins of your people who are left alive. You will not stay angry forever, because you enjoy being kind. You will have mercy on us again; you will conquer our sins. You will throw away all our sins into the deepest part of the sea” -Micah 7:18-19

For more about the “What I Be” Project and Steve Rosenfield visit: http://www.whatibeproject.com/.

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On Earth Peace, Goodwill Toward Men

Tonight I attended Christmas Eve service with my family. As with any such service the story of the first Christmas was told from scripture. Luke 2:13-14 was read, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” I pondered this scripture throughout the service.
First, what are heavenly hosts? According to Wikipedia “heavenly hosts” are a large army of good angels. This makes sense because right before the verses above Scripture describes an angel giving the message of the King’s birth to the shepherds. After the angel had finished the heavenly hosts joined the angel to praise the Lord.
The second point I pondered was why were they saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men?” Of all the things they could say, why was this what they chose to say, that for which they praised God? Tonight’s sermon highlighted the message the angel brought, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Of course the newborn King would bring good tidings of great joy. After all, He is our Savior, our Messiah, our Immanuel (God with us). As I think about the praise of the heavenly hosts I can see why they praise God for the King he sent; why they speak of the peace that will come over all the earth with the presence of this new King, for Jesus is the provider of peace that passes all understanding. But why do the heavenly hosts say, “goodwill toward men.” Perhaps the reason I didn’t understand is because I didn’t fully understand the definition of “goodwill.” Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “goodwill” as “a kindly feeling of approval and support : benevolent interest or concern.” God sent His son to be born fully human and fully God because he had a genuine interest and concern for His people. He was willing to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Because of these verses I have examined a bit of God’s character a little more deeply than before. He is a compassionate and generous giver of love, peace, grace, and mercy, and He NEVER desires for us to hold onto guilt and shame. Those things are from Satan and from our own misunderstanding. If he wanted us to struggle with guilt and shame He would have never sent his precious son. If there is a bit of guilt or shame, residue from past sins, and you have genuinely confessed and repented, remember that to deny His forgiveness is to say His sacrifice is not enough. Let the healing begin today because Christmas is about the peace and goodwill God provides which came in the form of a baby King.