Jesus Taught Dignity and Compassion

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11 NKJV

For years the church has loved pointing out that while Jesus forgave the woman trapped in adultery, He also told her to “sin no more.” And for years Seventh-day Adventists have been overlooking one of the greatest lessons Jesus ever taught. Jesus did not tell the woman to go and sin no more and then He would not condemn her. He told her He would not condemn her. More than freeing her from the condemnation of the law, Jesus was freeing the sex-slave who was callously thrown at his feet from her own self condemnation. He was restoring her dignity and sense of self worth so she was was now free to live the better life that she so desperately longed for but had only dreamed about.

They  told her they loved her. Said she was beautiful. Promised her she would be special. Next thing she knew she was being dragged out of bed by the very ones who dragged her into bed, and those who had praised and flattered her just stood and watched her being dragged away, as their trap and plan unfolded.

Now she was kneeling half naked, humiliated before Jesus. Eyes closed, not wanting to see the stones that would soon be crushing her head, she waited in terror. It seemed like eternity. When would it be over?

Barely peeking through one eye she sees Jesus doing something in the sand. Not sure what. She hears footsteps as men walk away. What is going on? Then she hears a word she had not heard in years directed at her.

“Woman…”

Jesus didn’t call her a “slut,” or “whore.” He called her “woman.” He was addressing her with the same title of respect that He gave to his own mother, who spoke with angels and gave birth to the Son of God.

“….where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” John 8:10 NKJV

She opens her eyes and looks around. They are all gone! She makes no accusations against the men. We know little about the background of this woman. She may or may not have been a victim of sex trafficking. But we do know that, terrified as she was, she was ready to face the consequences without blaming anyone else for the choices she had made, and the role she had played, which now brought her half-naked and humiliated into the presence of Jesus. Yet incredibly, as guilty as she was, it was her accusers who slunk away. As she lay helpless at His feet, there was no one to condemn her! When we fall helplessly at the feet of Jesus, there is no condemnation for us either.

He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10 NKJV)

She said, “No one, Lord.” (John 8:11 NKJV)

What was next? A sermon? A lecture? Nowhere is it recorded, but I can imagine Jesus placing His coat over her near-naked body.

The Holy One Who would be hanging naked on a cross in front of the entire universe one day, takes off His robe and covers this woman, protecting her human dignity more than just covering her sexuality.

He doesn’t preach to her. He ministers to her.

Did you know you don’t have to be a preacher to be a minister? Ministering to sinners doesn’t always have to include a sermon. An-ill timed sermon can do more harm than good. Jesus could preach with the best of them, but He knew when to preach and when not to preach. He also knew when to minister.

He called her “woman.” He placed His coat over her near-naked body and gave her the sense of dignity she had been promised by the man who betrayed her trust. Then He did not preach to her with words, He ministered to her with words.

“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11 NKJV

His words were brief and clear, yet somehow we get them mixed up. Have we ever told someone “Go and sin no more, and then I will stop condemning you!” Have you ever told a young man or woman, “we treat you like a child because you act like a child? Stop acting that way and then we will stop treating you that way.” That’s not what Jesus said. Jesus restored her dignity instead of asking her to act more dignified.

Jesus said clearly, “Neither do I condemn you.” Present tense.

“Go and sin no more.” Future tense.

The world told her they would stop condemning her once she stopped sinning. Jesus promised not to condemn her, so she could stop sinning.

They called her a whore and a slut.
Jesus called her a woman.

Mankind promised her she would be special, and then humiliated and betrayed her.
Jesus restored her dignity and made her special.

There was no condemnation for this woman at the feet of Jesus, and there is no condemnation for you, when you kneel at the feet of Jesus. By the way I love how Jesus turned a dirty trick into something beautiful. No matter how ill intended their evil plot was, these wicked men still brought a woman to the feet of Jesus where she found salvation! Their plan backfired! Grace has a way of defeating every intention of Satan. By the way to this day we still do not know exactly what Jesus wrote in the sand that day. That message was for those evil men alone. He wrote in the sand so he could reach their hearts without anyone else being able to see. Jesus will leave no means undone in His attempt to save, but public humiliation is the last thing Jesus wants to do if there is any way around it. That is one reason why Jesus says in Matthew 18 to go to the offender privately so hopefully it can be resolved without anyone else hearing of the matter. Still Jesus loves the sinner so much if not resolved it may have to be brought before the entire church and public humiliation may have to be encountered so salvation can become a reality. Yet Jesus wants to protect human dignity. After all He worked His first miracle of turning water into wine just to save a host from public embarrassment. He wrote in the sand to save sinners from public embarrassment, while also protecting the dignity of the woman. Picture of Jesus show a towel around His waist as He hung on the cross. Reality check, there was no towel around his waist in real life. Jesus hung naked in front of the entire universe taking on all of the public humiliation the universe deserves so He could save the universe from all of the public humiliation the entire universe deserves. Let that sink in. Ellen White in Desire of Ages, page 25 tells us Jesus was treated as we deserve so we can be treated as he deserves.

Jesus, the Master teacher did not embarrass His students. He dignified them. He did not tell them to stop making mistakes so He could stop condemning them. He stopped condemning them so they could be free from making the same mistakes again.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Proverbs in Light of The Cross; Compassion For All

I am writing today from the slightly overcast Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the slightly overcast Tampa Bay area.

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy. Proverbs 14:10 NLT 

Most everyone knows in elevator etiquette, you allow those exiting to get off the elevator before you get on. Still, one day after visiting my Bible student in the hospital, I was riding the elevator down to the parking level. When the elevator came to a stop, I started to exit when I got stampeded by a family of five. After they were finished walking all over me I quietly exited. I did not recite to them the rules of riding the elevator. Its not that I could not stand up for myself. I can and have. Its just that I finally learned a lesson a while back.

In my adult years, I have learned that some of my schoolmates while growing up were going through some awful situations at home. When I learned of this I wished I had known way back then, so I would have been able to me more kind and compassionate with them. Then I realized I did not need to know what they were going through in order to be kind and compassionate. I could have just been nice no matter what. That would have covered that without even having to know.

So when the people ran over me on the elevator, I just told myself, they may have just heard some terrible news about their sick loved one in the hospital, and are in a hurry to see them or the doctor. Maybe, maybe not. But I didn’t have to know. I could just be nice and wait till they were all in and finished running over me before I exited the elevator, which I did this time.

You can study more about Proverbs here.

Glimpses Of Grace; When God Ran

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

I love this parable about the prodigal son. I love how when the son turns back to his father, who represents our Heavenly Father, that while he is still a great ways off the Father has compassion. God does not wait for us to get our act together before He accepts us as His children. I love this verse too, because this verse is the only time we see God run. God does not run to hear angels sing His praises. God does not run to congratulate a Superbowl or world cup champion. But when a rebellious sinner turns his eyes towards home, when a sinner wants to escape satan’s grasp and needs help getting free, God does not walk He runs! As a matter of fact, it’s the only time in the Bible you see Him run!

I would like to invite you to celebrate this agape love with us at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area you can find a grace filled church here.

Click here and let the song “When God Ran” by Phillips Craig and Dean bless your heart today.

Worship: “Trust Not in Deceptive Words”: The Prophets and Worship

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s SS lesson, asks the question, “What do you think is more important: correct theology or correct actions? Can you have your theology right and yet treat others in a poor manner? What hope can you cling to if, perhaps, you see yourself revealed in the above texts? 

In Luke 10 Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. In this story a priest and a Levite, walk by and leave a wounded man to die. They knew the law. I am sure their peers would say they had sound theology. But did they? In Exodus 23:4-5 it says we are to help even an animal in distress. How much more a man! Surely the priest and Levite knew this. After the Priest and Levite leave the man to die, for whatever reason, a Samaritan comes along. Samaritans had their own place of worship, which according to the Jews, was the incorrect place to be. The Samaritan probably did not know the law or the Scriptures like the priest and Levite did. However, he was more like Jesus than either of the other men because, according to Luke 10:33 he had compassion. In this story, that one word, “compassion”, seems to separate right actions from wrong actions and bad theology from good theology. I have heard it said, that many will miss heaven by about 18 inches. The difference between the brain and the heart. I have also heard it said, and I believe, that heaven will be filled with people who had muddled theology, but none with bitter hearts.

As we continue reading the story, we find the Samaritan to be even more like Jesus. First he had compassion. Second he binds up the wounds of the hurt man even as Jesus binds our wounds. Finally he tells the innkeeper that he will pay for this man’s complete recovery. On the cross Jesus paid for our complete recovery from sin, and today gives us the free gift of sanctification as well as justification.

So, to answer the original question, I would say you can’t really have one without the other. If your theology is good, it will have good actions. Good actions are good theology. I think Ellen White says it best, in the book Desire of Ages, in the chapter “The Good Samaritan.”

  In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness.  {DA 497.1}