Thursday, 3 December 2009

A story of a second chance (John 8, part 2)

This is a continuation of the blog of the woman caught in adultery (John 8):
I have failed to live up to those standards myself. I have been a hypocrite. I suspect that every one of us has been hypocritical at times. As for the sin of that woman, Jesus said that if we look at a woman lustfully we have committed adultery in our hearts. Can any one of us men claim that we have never been guilty of lust? As for you women, have you ever spent time dreaming of how much more gentle and understanding someone else's husband might be? We may not have carried it as far as this woman but we share something of her guilt!
In fact we have been guilty of the worst of all offences - by nature we were rebels against the living and holy God. Like that woman, God's mercy is our only hope! As awful as the death penalty of the Old Testament may seem to us there is a worse fate awaiting those who refuse the mercy of God - hell!
I am not sure what Jesus wrote with his finger on the ground! When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." One by one the crowd disappeared. With regards the religious leaders I don't believe this was any great sign of repentance - after all they would try again to trick Jesus and pursued him until he was on the cross. But how can anyone truthfully claim that they are without sin?

So the scene ends with the woman facing the only person who was qualified to condemn her. Don't be fooled into thinking that we have a God who is reluctant to show mercy. This is a story of a second chance. What does he do? 'Then neither do I condemn you.'
This story ends with a challenge. "Go and leave your life of sin." Jesus never says that sin does not matter. He is calling her to repent. Becoming a Christian involves repentance - we agree with God's diagnosis of our sin, we give up any claim to self-righteousness, we depend on his mercy and we seek to live in God's way. Not that we never fail as Christians. After all in his model prayer Jesus teaches forgive us our sins. But a lifestyle of unrepentance and sin is incompatible with being a follower of Jesus. Beware if there is sin you won't let God challenge you on!

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