Compassion Love and Grace

May 19, 2013     John 8:1 -11   Compassion    

       David Wilkerson shares the following story.  A lovely, 19-year-old nurse stopped me after a crusade service. Tearfully, she sobbed out a pitiful confession: "Mr. Wilkerson, I'm a lesbian. I feel so dirty and unclean. The church where I used to attend asked me to never return. The minister said he couldn't take a chance of my seducing others in his congregation.   I feel like suicide is my only way out.    I live in total fear and condemnation.    Must I kill myself to find peace?"    She kept backing away from me as if she felt too unclean to be in my presence.   I asked her if she still loved Jesus. "Oh, yes," she replied. "Every waking hour, my heart cries out to Him.   I love Christ with everything in me but I'm bound by this terrible habit."   How beautiful it was to see her face light up when I told her how much God loved her, even in her struggles. I told her, "Don't ever give yourself over to your sin.   God draws a line right where you are.   Any momentum toward Him is accounted as righteousness.   Any move back across that line, away from Him, is sin.

     If we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.   Keep your spiritual momentum!    Keep loving Jesus even though you still do not have total victory.    Accept His daily forgiveness.   Live one day at a time!    Be convinced Jesus loves sinners so He must love you, too!"     She smiled a smile of relief and said, "Mr. Wilkerson, you are the first minister who ever offered me a ray of hope.  Deep in my heart I know He still loves me and I know He will give me deliverance from this bondage.   But I have been so condemned by everybody.   Thanks for your message of hope and love."  Reader of this message, are you living under condemnation?   Have you sinned against the Lord?   Have you grieved the Holy Spirit in your life?   Are you waging a losing battle with an overpowering temptation?  All you need to do is search God's Word and you will discover a God of mercy, love and endless compassion.   David said, "If thou, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?    But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou may be feared" (Psalm 130:3-4). 

    How is the church doing in this area of compassion today?   How about you and I?   I have read a couple of articles lately where people have said that most non Christians do not have an issue with Jesus so much as Jesus church.   I believe it was Gandi who said he did not have an issue with Jesus but had not seen a follower of Jesus.   Ouch.  Instead of unity too often the church comes across as divided.    We spend too much time on what divides us.   Paul wrote in Galatians do not bite and devour each other.   I don’t think that the church today is approaching other people like our Lord did.   I do not see the love and compassion and we should try to be like Jesus.  He did not button hole people or force the gospel.  But it seems to me that he always pointed others to God in a graceful loving way.  I want to be like that.   Kristi and I have a great time in the hospital and with a number of nurses we just mention the lord and point them to the Lord.  I talked to one person lately and they sat next to 2 Lesbians and she made the comment to them I do not judge you for your sin because I have my sin and it opened a wonderful conversation about God. They had questions and they wanted to engage.    I think that is pretty cool.   In I Corinthians 5 Paul talks about the church judging itself and not the world.   It seems like we are more known for judging other churches and judging the world when what we need is to do some introspection – some self judging.  The people outside of Jesus will be judged some day and that is plenty of reason to have some compassion for them.   They know not what they do.  They understand that they do wrong but they do not comprehend the result of that and those that sin become slaves to that sin.       

            Here indeed is a wonderful story about compassion and grace in the bible.  Here we see the expression of God in real life.  Here is real God in the flesh and blood is responding to man’s sin.  This is a compact picture of grace in action.  This story can easily be read in a minute.    It is a refreshing picture of God’s heart.   God’s compassion and grace are completely beyond man’s comprehension.   In the morning before the stifling heat of the day Jesus takes a familiar spot in the temple courts and he sits down to teach the people.  People quickly gather around to hear what the teacher from Nazareth has to say.    Scripture tell us that all the people gathered around him.    He is the center of attention.  Soon perhaps before he is even into the message, there is a splash in the crowd and noise.    We can easily picture someone yelling get out of the way.  Move over and let us through.  And here comes some rough arrogant conceited Pharisees and the teachers of the law shoving a fearful and shamed woman right in front of the teacher.  Here she is.  We caught her right in the very act.  She is as guilty as sin yells another.  Several red faced Pharisees full of adrenaline are hovering over the woman and Jesus.  This would be the day, this would be the time and the moment that the carpenter turned teacher would be shamed and discredited.  The Pharisees thought they had him cold.  There is no way out.  Should we beat her to death with our stones they yell?   Moses said so.   The law says kill her.  Their nasty attitude is plain for all to see.   When a difficult legal issue came up the natural and routine thing to do was to take it to a rabbi for a decision.  So they bring the woman to Jesus. 

            Let’s consider for a few minutes the trap that is being laid against Jesus.   In the eyes of Jewish law adultery was a serious crime.  The rabbis said every Jew must die before he will commit idolatry, murder or adultery.   They held a different view of adultery than society does today.   Adultery was and is a serious sin in God’s eyes.  Leviticus 20 tells us that if a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife both shall be put to death.  That does not state how they are to be put to death but Deuteronomy 22 states that a girl who is betrothed or engaged so to speak is involved with another man both were to be stoned to death.   If Jesus lets her go free they would argue that Jesus is teaching against the Law of Moses.   If Jesus tells them go ahead and kill her than he is no longer the friend of sinners.   How would you feel if Jesus said go ahead and stone her?      This is a real mess and real trap.   It seems like there is no way out. 

     I have learned that only God can get us out of impossible situations that sometimes we find ourselves in.  Only God can provide a way when there is no way.     There is no way out for Jesus because he cannot have it both ways.  The heat is on and Jesus is so cool.  That is a good trait of a leader.     That is Jesus response just silence.  Silence is not enough for the Pharisees though.   They have to have an answer.  Without an answer the trap could not be sprung.  Without an answer their hopes are gone.  They could not trap God and neither can we.   Of course they did not think he was God.  Jesus wisdom and response to this would be enough to speak to their hearts about who he was if they were half-open.     But they are not open and they never get who Jesus is.   That is the worst place to be, not knowing who Jesus is.    

       He writes in the sand.  There may be several reasons why Jesus wrote in the sand.    He may have wanted to gain time to think about the situation and pray.   He may have wanted them to think about what an ugly and terrible thing they were pursuing.    Maybe Jesus was stilling his heart and emotions.   One writer said that the Greek word to write was normally graphein.    But the word used here is katagraphein.   That means to write down a record against somebody.   I could not verify that from Strong’s concordance.    There is a good chance that Jesus is writing their sins in the sand.    The Jewish leaders keep the heat on.  It has been said that the meaning here without sin also means that they never had the desire to do the same thing.     Not only you have never done it but you never had the thought nor desire in your whole life.    Ouch!!   That is a zinger stinger from God.    There is a punch in the heart.  The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any 2 edged sword.   God knows how to pierce our arrogant hearts.   They keep badgering and questioning and he straitens up and says to them if any of you are without sin you may cast the first stone.    Again he bends down and writes in the dirt.   Again silence.   The crowd is silent.   The Pharisees are quiet finally.   They are beat at their own game and they take a hike.   One by one God’s spirit drives them away. 

      How do you think the crowds and the woman felt about Jesus?     How do you think the crowds and the woman felt about the Pharisees?   How do you feel about Jesus at this point?   I am sure the woman and the crowds did not think that the Pharisees were friends of sinners.  The Pharisees did not genuinely love this woman.   She was just a tool to them.   They wanted to use her.  They were not the friends of sinners.    They looked pretty bad to everybody.   They are shamed.    I believe the power of God comes upon these men and the silence is only broken by the shuffle of feet as these accusers leave one by one.  Perhaps they brought stones with them and you could hear the stones hit the sand as they dropped them on the ground.  They walk away from this with egg on their faces.   We need to be careful that we do not walk away with egg on our faces.   Compassion is important.  They were shamed and humiliated if you ask me.  I love it when God wins.   Go God go and put your enemies to shame. 

    We can be critical at times and for this woman it may have been her only avenue to live.   Maybe that is how she put bread on the table.  Yes we would tell her that God would provide for her.  What if she says OK I am done with my life of sin but I do not have any food for tomorrow?    If that is how she is making her living where is the church?   The church or the church leaders are condemning her.  If so it must have grieved the Lord that much more.   This is tough stuff.   Are we willing to be part of the solution?   It will cost you something.  A couple of us in this church have opened out homes to help people with similar needs.   Come live with us while you get your feet on the ground.   That cost is just a little bit more than the wallet.  

      The anxious woman weighted with guilt and fear stood alone probably wondering what would happen to her now.   Would this man stone her?  That would be as bad as having many men stoning her.  What now?  Jesus said grace.  Jesus stood up.  Where did they all go he asked?    Did not anybody condemn you?    No sir came a whispered reply.  I don’t condemn you said Jesus go and live as a changed woman.  Let me ask you something?   If Jesus did not condemn her how can you and I condemn some one?   Tell me exactly how that works?   And yes the church must make decisions about things.     Can you imagine how she felt?   She was standing right in the presence of God.  What a turn around here?  The guilty man gets nothing from this.  The accused woman is spared and her life touched by the living God.  The Pharisees are humiliated and leave and God again is triumphant.  It is a God scene.  It is a God thing. 

     Jesus saw the obvious and much more than the obvious that perilous morning.  He saw the woman in the crumpled dress who was scared out of her mind.   But he also saw a life that was wounded.   He saw a life that had failed to weigh the consequences of her poor choices.  He saw the heart of a hungry woman who had sought to fill her life by one-night stands.  He saw a soul who was headed for physical death.   She was already seriously wounded spiritually.   She had reaped a wreck life.    He saw more than any person could possibly see.  He saw a person with a God shaped vacuum whose eternity rode on those few minutes.  He saw a person whose self worth was corroded by sin and whose life was full of guilt.  He saw someone with immense value and whose future could be bright and full.  He saw someone that God wanted to embrace with his grace.  And seeing all of this and a lot more he extended grace to her.  Here is a man who is full of grace and truth. The law came by Moses but grace and truth aaah that is found in Jesus.  I will take Jesus over the law any day.   Jesus is on a different plane than the Pharisees.   Jesus is just different period.   Jesus sees you and me as we are and as we can be in Him.

     It does not take much to find ourselves like this woman.  She needed God like you and I do.  A little disregard of integrity or neglect of our spirit could get us going in the wrong direction.    A few short cuts that are taken or an unfortunate situation that happens to us may set us off in the wrong direction.  A critical bitter spirit has kept many from God and His church.   The silencing of our conscious thoughts when we are wrong.  It happens when we spend some time in worship at the altar of self.  The words of Jesus were words of forgiving grace.  Guilt was not in question.  She was guilty of disobedience of God’s greatest desire for her life.  She trashed herself worth.  She violated the best that God had for her.   She was guilty as sin.  Jesus offered her freedom from the condemning consequences of sin and guilt.  Oh the sweetness of such release.   Jesus blesses us by breaking the power and curse of sin over us.   We like the guilty woman stand in need of God’s forgiving grace.  Grace is given by Jesus grace which we cannot purchase, grace which we cannot earn, grace that cannot be gained by self-effort but love and grace that is given by Jesus Christ.  As the song writer said grace that is greater than all my sin.  Sins ugliness had left its mark on her life, on her feelings, her emotions, memories and habits.  The love, acceptance and grace that came from the heart of God and the lips of Jesus I suspect were not expected at least in the beginning.   She needed God’s grace day by day.  Old habits needed to be replaced with new ones.  The power of old memories would remain but with grace would diminish day by day. 

     We do not know how this woman turned out.  She is not mentioned again in scripture.   But Jesus offered her forgiving grace.  I do not condemn you.    And he offers transforming grace.  Jesus grants to us transforming power go and sin no more.  Jesus does not excuse the sin.  Sin is real and it is harmful.   Jesus did not dismiss her rudely or in a curt manner.  I think she left with a spirit of hope and I would say a severe spanking.   God because God cared for her allowed her to be dragged into the crowd at the temple and humiliated.   Grace was extended to her to live in a new way.     Jesus touch is so powerful.  Back into the world is where Jesus sent her.   She is sent back into her world where everything is the same but her.  She is different.  She has had the touch of God.  I’d like to believe that she became an instrument of God’s redeeming grace to others.  That within her would be seen what the power of God could do in a person.   I think if she were at the foot of the cross she would recognize Jesus words forgive them father for they do not know what they are doing.   She would see that there were no stones in his hands to throw at the wicked. 

   It is interesting that Jesus offered love and compassion and yet none was given to him at his trial.   His people that he came to – his church if you will offered nothing to him.  There was no support for him.   The Romans crucify Him.   What have you offered to Jesus this week?   What sacrifice have you given to him?   Who have you extended love, mercy and grace to this week?   Jesus said if you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.   Have you heard his words of forgiveness?   Have you heard him say to you neither do I condemn you go your way and sin no more.   Are you walking in the joy of forgiveness?