This is something the leader of Cru on my campus said that really stuck with me.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to 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?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Imagine what this woman must’ve been feeling. She was caught in the act of adultery. They literally dragged her out of bed and brought her before Jesus. As much as she was on the spot, so was Jesus. Surely He knew He was being set up. The Pharisees wanted Him to let her off the hook so they could accuse Him of breaking the law. But Jesus is smarter than that. Let’s go back to the woman. The Pharisees just asked Jesus, “What do you say?” The woman now believes that her fate lies in the hands of this stranger. She’s probably heard of Jesus, but she probably doesn’t know whether or not to believe what she’s heard. When Jesus began writing on the ground, the woman probably wondered what He was doing and how it was going to solve anything. At least, until she saw what He was writing. I’ve heard it theorized that Jesus was writing the sins of the people standing before Him. When He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” the people looked down at what He was writing and felt condemned and ashamed. The older people left first possibly because they were wiser and knew better than to stick around, or possibly because they had done the sins written on the ground more than the younger people and so they felt more shame. Either way, they left and the younger people followed suite until it was just Jesus and the woman. At this point, she was probably still scared. Perhaps she had heard that Jesus claimed to be sinless. If so, then she knew that He would be able to throw a stone at her. But He didn’t. He stood up and looked at her and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” I imagine she wasn’t quite sure what to say. Was it a trick question? Well, she went ahead and answered, “No one, sir,” probably still unsure of what was going to happen to her. Jesus replied, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” That’s forgiveness. Do you know what that must have felt like? This woman was sure she was going to die. But she walked away not only unharmed, but also with the forgiveness of God Himself. Sure, she still had to face her husband and the townspeople, but I imagine Jesus’ forgiveness took the burden off her heart so that she could handle whatever was thrown at her. We don’t know what became of this woman, we don’t even know her name, but I have a feeling that things turned out well for her thanks to the forgiveness of God. We are offered that same forgiveness. That same life-changing, burden-lifting forgiveness. All we have to do is ask for it. We deserve it as much as the adulteress did, but God will give it to us without reserve because of his unconditional love. Now that is a great story.
I had an intensely scary nightmare during my routine Sunday nap. In it, I was sitting on the floor in front of my bedroom door with my legs crossed and I heard a deep, dark voice talking to me from behind. The voice was assuring me that it was okay to do what I was being tempted to do even though I knew it was wrong. I felt like I was hovering above the ground and, when I looked, it turned out that I was. Not by much. Perhaps a few inches. I thought it was very cool that I was doing that. The voice asked me if I liked hovering and I said I did. Then, suddenly, I was hovering 5 feet in the air, with my legs still crossed. I was unable to move. It was like I was sitting on an invisible pedestal. It was no longer fun. It was terrifying. I didn’t know what was happening and I was afraid I was going to drop straight to the ground and get hurt. The voice was taunting me and threatening to let me plummet to the hard floor painfully. That was when I realized that the voice was Satan. I woke up from my dream feeling violated. How dare Satan invade my subconscious! But now I see what the dream means. The hovering represents sin. At first it seems fun and harmless until you realize what the cost is. A few inches off the ground was fun. But being feet off the ground with no control was terrifying. In the end, after giving into temptation, we all fall onto that hard, unforgiving ground. But every time, God is there to help us up and forgive us.
Forgiveness is when you let go of the pain of someone hurting you so that you can both move on. Ephesians 4:32-Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Devotion for the week of 3/17/14-3/23/14
In the Old Testament people had to make sacrifices when they sinned. Hebrews 9:22 says “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” In order to be forgiven, they had to sacrifice an animal, typically a lamb. This was before Jesus came. Jesus was sent to be the ultimate sacrifice. His blood was shed to cover over the sins of the world: past, present, and future. In John 1:29 John refers to Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Jesus is called the Lamb of God because He was sent by God to be sacrificed like a lamb. He was perfect and had never sinned, but He took on the sin of the world so that there could be eternal forgiveness without any more bloodshed. He was innocent, just as the lambs who were sacrificed before were. A lamb is also like Jesus because they are both peaceful. Sheep are not violent, and neither was Jesus. Jesus’ death on the cross as the Lamb of God was foreshadowed in Genesis 22, the story where Abraham is prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac. God asked him to do this and, without hesitation, Abraham agreed. Later on, when he and his son were going to the mountain to make the sacrifice, Isaac asked where the lamb for the sacrifice was. Abraham told him that God would provide the lamb. This foreshadowed God sending His only Son to die as a sacrifice. Before Abraham could sacrifice his son, and angel told him not to. The angel said that he knows now that Abraham loves the Lord since he did not withhold even his only son. Just as God later showed His love for us by not withholding His only Son. Now we no longer have to sacrifice a lamb when we sin (if we did, sheep would be endangered or even extinct!) because Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for our sins. Because of this, we can be forgiven.