Thursday, April 27, 2017

Me, a Confessor?

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

(John 20:23 ESV)

            We’ve discussed the subject of accountability twice in recent days at Prince of Peace.  The first was at our men’s study.  And the second was at our Spiritual Life Meetings, where we focused on battling our temptations.

            We were encouraged to confess our sins to one another, as commanded in the epistle of James (5:16).  We were also encouraged to find an accountability partner: someone to whom we can confess our sins, but also someone who will help us to avoid sin by confronting us with the hard questions.  We then, in turn, do the same for them.

            Many of us are uncomfortable with this practice because confession seems too Catholic.  When we think of confession, we think of going to the priest, kneeling in the confessional, and acknowledging our wrongdoing.  And, because we disagree with several points of Catholic doctrine, we want nothing to do with it.

Another reason we’re uncomfortable with this practice is because we like to hide our sin.  We like to put on a show of righteousness while, privately, we continue in our sinful behaviors.  In fact, we have no desire to turn from our sin. 

And not only do refuse to acknowledge our sin and our guilt.  We also like to deny that our sin is truly sin.  We seek to justify our sinful behaviors.  We like to pretend that they are good, which takes confession out of the equation.

            However, and this is where I want to focus my attention now, another reason we’re uncomfortable with this practice is because we don’t feel worthy or capable of performing the work of a confessor.  We don’t feel worthy to announce to someone the forgiveness of their sins.  We don’t feel that we possess the authority to do so.

            However, in the above passage, we see our authority.  This authority has been given to us by Christ.  And this authority is empowered by the Spirit of God.

            Christ has authorized us to announce the forgiveness of sins.  And, even though this thought makes us even more uncomfortable, he’s also given us the authority to withhold the forgiveness of sins.

            If we sought to perform this work on our own, we would be unworthy.  If we sought to perform it on our own, we would be incapable.  After all, we’re all sinners deserving of God’s judgment.  And, in ourselves, we have no authority to forgive sins or to withhold forgiveness. It’s only by the call of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit that we do so.

            This doesn’t mean that we can arbitrarily decide whom we will and won’t forgive.  We are acting under Christ’s authority, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This means that the basis for doing this is the gospel.  The basis of this is the Word and promise of God.

            We know that those who confess their sins, who repent of their sin, and who trust in Christ are promised forgiveness.  If, then, someone comes to us in this spirit, we announce to them the forgiveness of their sins.  And if someone comes without this spirit, we announce to them that they are not forgiven. 

            This is an important ministry that even dedicated Christians have gotten away from.  And, for this reason, it’s a practice that I’d like to encourage once again.  It’s not merely a tradition flowing from an ancient branch of the Christian faith.  It’s a practice that is commanded and encouraged by God himself.


Monday, April 24, 2017

No Better Than Pilate

“From then on Pilate sought to release him…”

(John 19:12 ESV)

            Pilate is one of the most vilified men in Scripture.  After all, it was he who turned Jesus over to be crucified.  It was under his authority that Jesus was put to death. And, for this reason, we remember this each time we confess our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.  We remember that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

            However, what we find in the account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion makes things a bit more complicated.  We find that perhaps he wasn’t as evil as he often seems to us.  In fact, we discover that we’re a lot like him.

            We see that, as Jesus was brought to him, Pilate found no guilt in him.  It did not seem fitting to Pilate that Jesus should be put to death.  And when the Jews told him that Jesus made himself to be the Son of God, he was afraid.

            So what convinced Pilate to crucify Jesus?  Two things stand out.  In John 19 we see that the Jews accused him.  They told him that, if he released Jesus, he was no friend of Caesar. They said that everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.

            The people were saying that, if Pilate released Jesus, he was a traitor.  Pilate likely feared that the people would bring these charges against him.  And, for this reason, he sought his own safety.  He sought to preserve his position in the Empire, which was done by having Jesus put to death.

            We find in Matthew 27 that Pilate only gave in to the crowd, he only gave the order that Jesus was to be crucified, when he saw that he was gaining nothing and that a riot was beginning.  By releasing Jesus, he feared that there would be much more blood spilt.  And, even though he had the Roman army at his disposal, he may have feared a more widespread rebellion.

            As you read this, you may insist that these facts do not make Pilate seem less evil.  He is a man who sought his own welfare rather than justice.  You may insist that he should have done the right thing regardless of what it meant for himself.

            If these are your thoughts, you are right in your assessment.  He should not have ordered Jesus’ death.  We do see, in this action, his self-interest and his corrupt nature. Yet, if this is our assessment of Pilate, we must also see the same qualities in ourselves.

            Even if we are Christian, even if we have faith in Christ, how many of us have denied Jesus out of our own self-interest?  How many of us have tried to hide our faith seeking to preserve our reputation among unbelievers?  How many of us have given in to sin because we didn’t want to appear self-righteous before others?

            I’m willing to guess that all of us have done this at one time or another.  I know that it’s something I’ve done at various times in life.  And this makes us just as guilty as Pilate.

            As believers, we’re called to follow Christ no matter the cost.  We’re called to testify about Christ, not fearing what man might do.  We’re to carry out this calling knowing that no one can take from us the salvation that God has granted us through faith in Jesus.

            This, you see, is cause for us to repent.  We must confess our failure to God seeking his mercy, and we must turn from this sin.  We must ask God for his strength that we might remain faithful, and that we might boldly proclaim the gospel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Speaking Openly

“…I have spoken openly to the world.  I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together.  I have said nothing in secret.  Why do you ask me?  Ask those who have heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

(John 18:20-21 ESV)

            These words were spoken by Jesus as he was questioned by the high priest, following his arrest.  He was asked about his disciples and his teaching.  And the thing that stands out in his response is that his teaching was common knowledge.

            Jesus told the high priest that there was no reason to question him regarding his teaching.  He was very open as he taught.  He had hidden nothing.  And, for this reason, everyone knew what he’d said.

            As I read these words, I asked myself if I could make the same statement.  If I were arrested and questioned regarding my teaching, could I also claim that it’s common knowledge? Do I refrain from hiding any of it from certain people?

            I believe this is a legitimate question to ask ourselves.  I believe this because we have a desire to be liked by those around us.  We have a desire to appeal to others.  We have the desire to have the biggest church with the biggest attendance.  These desires flow from our sinful nature, but they are a part of us nonetheless.

            For this reason, it’s easy for us to be less than open about our beliefs and practices.  This is common among some TV evangelists and teachers.  They avoid issues that might be considered touchy or controversial. They avoid talking about those things that might affect their popularity or their ratings.

            We know that some of the statements of Scripture make people uncomfortable.  They make us uncomfortable.  And, for this reason, we find it best to avoid these subjects.  We believe that we’ll be more successful in leading people to faith if we keep some of these things to ourselves.

            However, if we are truly seeking to make disciples of Jesus, we must hide nothing.  We must make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20). Even though it may cause some to hate us, even though it may lead to our rejection by some, we must not fear for ourselves.  We must be more interested in the eternal welfare of the lost than in our own comfort.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Eternal Life

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

(John 17:3 ESV)

I realize that, technically, we’re done with our journey through the gospel of John.  It ended Easter Sunday.  However, I thought I’d share yet another passage that struck me as I read it.  And, believe me, there are many more thoughts I could share.

            The passage I’m referring to is the one you see above. And this is an interesting one.  It defines for us something that everyone thinks they understand.

            This verse is spoken in the context of Jesus’ prayer to God the Father.  Jesus says that God has given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all that have been given him.  He then defines for us eternal life.

            Most people think they understand the concept of eternal life.  And, if you ask them, most people in our society believe they’ll go to heaven when they die.  They believe this because they think themselves to be a good person.  They believe that, over all, they’ve done more good than bad.  For this reason, they think it would be unjust of God to deny them a place in heaven.

            Most in our society tend to believe the same thing about one another as well.  They believe that most people are basically good and deserving of a place in heaven.  And this is true regardless of their faith.  They believe that good Jews, good Muslims, good Buddhists, and even good atheists deserve to possess eternal life in heaven.

            However, we see in this passage that eternal life is defined by faith.  It’s defined not by possessing faith in general, but by a specific faith.  Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ.

            Eternal life doesn’t refer merely the fact that we’ll exist forever.  In this sense of the term, everyone will have eternal life.  Some will exist eternally in the presence of God while some will exist eternally in hell.  True life, in the sense used in Scripture, is life with God.  It’s life with the blessings he bestows upon us.

            This tells us, as we see all throughout Scripture, that eternal life is not given based upon our goodness.  In fact, Scripture assures us that we’re all rotten.  The only thing we deserve is death and hell.

            This also tells us that people of other faiths will not be saved.  It’s not as though faith is a magical power by which we attain salvation.  Salvation is a gift, given by God, that is received through faith in Jesus.  If we don’t have faith in Jesus, if we don’t have faith in the salvation he’s provided and in his promise to us, we will not be saved.

            May we, then, trust in Christ and in him alone for eternal life.  Realizing that faith in him is eternal life, may we depend only upon him for this gift.  And may we do so realizing that there is no other way.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

...As Jesus Loved

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

(John 15:12-13)

            Jesus’ point in these verses is clear.  He is calling on us to love one another.  And, although this may seem obvious to us, it’s not as apparent as it seems.

            I say this because we are naturally selfish.  Our tendency is to look out, first and foremost, for ourselves.  We are typically unwilling to give of ourselves, we’re typically unwilling to sacrifice, for the sake of others.

            It seems that we are only willing to give if there is something to be gained by it.  We’ll give if it curries favor with others, if it means that they will help us down the road.  We’ll give if it gains for us respect and honor.  We’ll give if there’s some sort of material reward for our labor.  But to give with no thought of return is an oddity.

            Jesus calls us to love one another. And, more than that, he gives us a standard of love.  He calls on us to love one another as he’s loved us.

He goes on to say that the greatest love is a giving of the self.  The greatest love is sacrificial in nature.  The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends. 

Once again, these words of Jesus tie right in with our Easter celebration.  As Jesus issues this command, our minds are turned to him and to his sacrifice.  We’re reminded of the great love he’s shown us.

We’re reminded that he loved us so much, he was willing to die for us.  We’re reminded that he died for us although we had nothing to offer in return.  We’re reminded that he died for us while we were yet sinners, while we were yet his enemies.

            As we read this, we may be thinking that it’s an impossible standard.  And it’s true that, for sinful people like us, it is.  We will never be able to love as Christ has loved on this side of eternity.

            However, this command is a continual call to repentance.  It’s a constant check on our sinful nature.  It drives us to the cross that we might receive God’s forgiveness for the lack of love that we show.

            It also moves us to seek God’s work in our heart.  It moves us to pray that he’ll work in us and through us.  And we can be assured that, as we turn from our sin, and as the Holy Spirit works within, God will use us to demonstrate his love to others.  He’ll move us to lay down our life for others.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Proper Use of Authority

“…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from Supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

(John 13:3-5 ESV)

            As I read them, I find these verses to be mind-boggling.  They don’t seem to fit our typical way of thinking.  In fact, they’re the complete opposite of the way we tend to both think and behave.

            We see that Jesus knew who he was.  He knew that he’d come from God and that he was returning to God.  He also knew his authority, that all things had been given into his hands.   Yet, even with this knowledge, he engaged in one of the lowliest acts of service.  He knelt down and washed the feet of his disciples.

            In our human way of thinking, possessing great authority means being served.  It means that menial activities are now beneath us.  It means enjoying, and even demanding, the respect and honor of others.

            We don’t expect that the president of the United States will do the dishes.  We don’t expect that the Queen of the United Kingdom will clean the bathroom.  We don’t expect those who run large corporations, like Bill Gates, to do the laundry.  Because of their position, they have servants who do these things for them.

            This is especially true when we think of the person of Jesus.  After all, he’s God.  He’s the maker of all things.  He’s the giver of life.  He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords.  And for this reason, he certainly deserves to be served.    He deserves the honor of man.

            This is one reason why many of us crave power and wealth.  We know that, with this status, comes luxury.  We know that, with this status, comes the service of others.

            But Jesus turns this thought process on its head.  And he does so not only with his teaching.  He does so by his example.

            And his service goes way beyond the washing of his disciples’ feet.  He gave his very life for us.  He died on the cross that we might receive what we do not deserve, the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

            He then calls on us to love as he’s loved.  He calls on us to serve as he’s served.  He calls on us to humble ourselves and give ourselves for others as he’s given himself for us.

            The question for us, then, is if we’ll do this.  Having received his service, will we follow the example of our Lord and Master?  Will we act not only in our own interests, but in those of others?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Whose Glory Do We Seek?

“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

(John 12:42-43 ESV)

            For those of you following our journey through John, this Lenten season, you’ll notice that chapter 12 was our reading from a few days ago.  However, something stood out to me that I’d like to share.

            As we read through this chapter, one thing that is highlighted is the unbelief of the people.  We’re told that, even though they’d seen so many signs, they still did not believe.  And we’re told that this had been prophesied by Isaiah.

            Yet, even though the people would not believe, we’re told that many of the authorities believed in Jesus.  However, because they feared the Pharisees, they were unwilling to publicly confess it.  And John explains their unwillingness, telling us that they loved the glory that came from man more than that which comes from God.

            As we read this, it may seem like a harsh statement.  It seems harsh because we can identify with the fear of these authorities.  Even though we believe in Jesus, we also fear man.  We fear the reaction of those around us.  And, like these authorities, we seek to keep our faith private. 

            But even though this is true, we take issue with the explanation of John.  We would deny that we love the glory of man more than that which comes from God.  We would insist that we do, in fact, place a priority on God’s glory.

            We might go on to offer several justifications for our actions.  We insist that, if we suffered for our faith, it might keep us from serving God in other ways.  If we were arrested, it would keep us from ministering to our family.  If our reputation were destroyed, it would hinder even our more secretive attempts to share Christ with others. 

            However, the simple fact remains that, by keeping our faith secretive, we’re trying to please man.  We’re ignoring the fact that we’ve been called by Christ to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  We’ve been called by him to make disciples of all nations.  And we can’t fulfill this calling by keeping our mouth shut.

            What we’re doing, in reality, is looking out for ourselves.  We’re seeking only to protect our life and reputation among unbelievers.  And we’re seeking to do so at the expense of the call of God.

            As believers in Jesus, we should be much more concerned about what God thinks of us rather than what man thinks of us.  We should be more concerned about pleasing God than man.  While man might harm us, and while he might even take our life in this world, God has authority over our eternal fate (Matthew 10:28).  He has authority to grant life and to take it away.

            It’s true that we might be rejected by men, but so too was Christ.  It’s true that we might suffer at the hands of men, but so did Jesus.  He suffered in this way that we might receive salvation.  And, in the same way, we’re to consider others more important than ourselves.  We’re to lay down our lives in the service of Christ and the gospel. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Our Easter Hope

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. 

(John 11:25-26 ESV)

            This is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture.  In it, we find the hope of Easter.  Jesus speaks to us, in this passage, about our hope of eternal life.

            Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, had died.  And when Jesus came, his sisters approached Jesus with a comment that often causes us to struggle.  They told him that, had he been there, their brother would not have died.

            These women knew Jesus’ power to heal.  And they had summoned Jesus in hope that he might come and heal him.  However, because Jesus delayed in coming, Lazarus had died.

            However, Jesus assured them that death was not the end for Lazarus.  He told them that he is the resurrection.  In other words, he is the source of the resurrection.  He has power over life and death.  

            He went on to tell them that, if we believe in him, we will live even though we die.  He said that everyone who lives and believes in him will never die.  Through faith in him, we receive life eternal.

            Once again, this is the hope of Easter.  We know that, unless we’re here when the Lord returns, we’ll all taste death.  We’ve each watched friends and loved ones who’ve grown old and passed, or those of any age who have fallen ill and passed.  And what hope it offers to know that this does not mark the end. 

            Their death does not mean that God has failed them.  It doesn’t mean that he’s failed us.  We know this because, through Christ, we have life eternal.

            For this reason, we need not fear death.  Few of us look forward to death.  Few of us long to suffer.  However, even in the face of this, we know that there is something more.  We know that something greater awaits us.

            We know this because of Jesus.  He revealed it to Lazarus’ sisters by raising him from the dead.  And he’s revealed it to us through his own death and resurrection.  We see from this his power over death.  We see his power to grant life. 

            We know that, when we die, we’ll depart to be with the Lord.  But, more than that, we know that, one day, we’ll also rise from the grave.  We know that, at the return of Christ, our bodies will rise that they might dwell in his presence for all eternity.

            Believing this, death no longer leaves us in despair.  When our time comes, we can pass away in confidence.  And when our believing loved ones pass, we have assurance that their life continues on.

            May this truth encourage each of us in times of mourning.  May it encourage us in times of suffering.  May be confidently trust that, even if we die, we will live.  May we trust that, through faith in Christ, we will never die.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

A Willingness to Sacrifice

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

 (John 10:11-13 ESV)

            In these words, Jesus sums up the heart of the gospel.  He compares himself, as the Good Shepherd, to the hired hand.  And the difference between the two is found in his willingness to lay down his life for the sheep in his care.

            The hired hand does not own the sheep.  They do not belong to him.  And, as a result, he doesn’t care about them.  He values his own life more than that of the sheep.  So, when the wolf comes, he flees.  He runs that he might preserve his life.

            The sheep, however, belong to the shepherd.  He cares for them and values their life above his own.  So, when the wolf comes, he is willing to protect them.  He’s willing to lay down his life for the sheep.

            Most of us can see this truth not only in Jesus’ words, but also in his actions.  These words are more than just a parable.  They reflect reality.  They point us to the sacrifice Jesus was to make on our behalf.

            We remember that, even though he in no way deserved to die, Jesus willingly laid down his life for us.  He did so that, through faith in him, we could be free from sin and death.  He was willing to face down the enemy and bear the suffering that was coming to us that we might have life.

            Not only does this fill us with gratitude.  Not only does it cause us to overflow with thankfulness for everything he’s done for us.  It’s also the reason we follow him.  He truly is the Good Shepherd.  He’s not out to gain anything from us.  His sole concern is us.

In this sense, it also forces us to search our heart.  It forces us to ask if we behave more like the Good Shepherd or the hired hand.  I’m not suggesting that we could ever measure up to Jesus.  I’m not suggesting that we could ever do for others what he’s done for us.  But we are called to reach out with the gospel.  We are called to be a blessing to those around us.

            We can relate to Jesus’ willingness to suffer in some ways.  Most of us, if an intruder entered our home, would do all that we could to protect our family.  We would put ourselves between the enemy and our family that they might live.

            However, in most cases, we’re more like the hired hand.  We take a “me first” approach to life.  We’re willing to serve, we’re willing to help people, if it’s not an inconvenience.  But we’re not all that willing to sacrifice.  We’re not willing to lay down our life.

            Yet we’re called to lay down our lives for others.  We’re called to value others more than ourselves.  We’re called to love as Christ has loved us.  

            May we, then, repent of our selfish attitude.  May we ask God to change our heart that we might love others with the love he’s given us.  May we truly be the blessing that we’ve been called to be.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

A Judgmental Jesus?

“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

(John 9:39 ESV)

            On the surface, this statement of Jesus may cause us to struggle.  It may do so because, in John 3:17, Jesus said that he did not come to condemn the world.  In John 12:47 Jesus says that he did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  So this statement sounds quite contradictory.  It doesn’t seem to reflect the nature of Christ.

            As we read Scripture, we clearly see the desire of God.  He desires that all might be saved.  He does not want anyone to perish, but all to reach repentance.  And, in Jesus, he has provided salvation for all.  He’s the atoning sacrifice for our sin and for that of the entire world.  So the primary purpose of Jesus’ coming was not to judge, but to provide salvation.

            However, because so many refuse Christ, because so many will not receive his salvation, it also leads to judgment.  It causes those who refuse him to receive the eternal wrath of God.  So, although judgment is not the purpose of his coming, it does result from it.  It leads to a division of those who are saved and those who are not.

            Jesus explains how this plays out in the above passage.  He came so that those who do not see may see.  In other words, he came so that those who were without spiritual insight, who were without the knowledge of God, and who didn’t even seek for him, might receive these blessings.  He came that they might receive salvation.

            However, he also came that those who see may become blind.  Now, Jesus isn’t saying here that he has determined some for damnation and that he’s the cause of this.  He also isn’t saying that these people possess true insight or a true knowledge of God.  He’s saying that those who believe themselves to see, those who believe themselves to possess such knowledge, are blinded.  Because of their prideful assertion, they fail to recognize their need for him and they reject the gift of salvation that Jesus brings to them.  And, as a consequence, they receive judgment.

            We see this attitude expressed by the Jews in John 8.  As Jesus preached to them, they claimed to be children of Abraham.  They claimed that God was their Father.  However, Jesus told them, in no uncertain terms, that their true father was the devil.  Because they rejected him, because they were seeking to kill him, they were not what they believed themselves to be.

            The same reality is found in our society today.  Almost everyone believes themselves to be a child of God.  They are confident in their goodness and salvation.  And, for this reason, they are closed off to the gospel.  They will not admit to their sin, nor do they understand their need for salvation.  And, for this reason, they will not trust in Jesus nor his sacrifice.  For this reason, they remain in the wrath of God.

            May we, then, humbly receive the message of the gospel.  May we understand our sin and the punishment we deserve.  And may we, for this reason, be open to the good news of Jesus.  May we look to him in faith, may we trust in his sacrifice, that we might receive the great blessings he’s provided us.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Casting Stones

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

(John 8:7 ESV)

            In our journey through the gospel of John, we now come to the 8th chapter.  In it, we find the verse above.  However, although it is an important verse, it's also one of the most misused verses of Scripture today. 

            We see in this passage that the scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery.  They did so to test him.  They were looking for an accusation that they could make against him.

            They brought her to Jesus, pointing out the teaching of the Law.  According to the Law, those caught in adultery were to be stoned. And they wanted to know what Jesus would say about this.  Would he agree that she should be stoned?  Or would he disregard the Law?

            Jesus made this statement to prick the consciences of those who were using this woman.  And this statement would do so in a couple of ways.

            First of all, each of those who were accusing this woman were also guilty of sin.  And, like this woman, each of them were deserving of death.  By condemning this woman, they also condemned themselves.

            Not only were they sinners in general.  Not only were they generally deserving of death.  They were also guilty in this instance.  By bringing this woman to Jesus, they were sinning against the Lord, making themselves deserving of judgment.

            You see, the Law didn’t only prescribe death for women caught in adultery, but also for men.  And if this woman was caught in the act, where was the man?  Why were they letting him off the hook while they condemned her?  In this way, they were guilty of injustice.  They were guilty of partiality.  They were guilty of perverting judgment.

            They were also guilty because of their motives.  Their motives were to entrap Jesus.  They sought to accuse him so they might put him to death.  They were seeking to unjustly take the life of Jesus.

            Recognizing their guilt, and recognizing the penalty they deserved, her accusers then went away one by one.  And, finally, no one was left.  As Jesus pointed out to the woman, no one was left to accuse her.

            However, Jesus didn’t simply dismiss her sin.  He didn’t let her off the hook.  He never offered a word of forgiveness.  He, instead, told her that she was to leave her life of sin.  He called her to repent.

            This is where this passage is often twisted today.  People cite it, telling us that we’re to leave them alone.  They tell us that we’re wrong to address their sin.  They tell us that we're to mind our own business. 

            Now, as we reach out to others, it’s true that we must recognize our own sin.  We must recognize the punishment we deserve.  We must first repent and seek forgiveness for our own sin before we address others.  We must not be hypocritical when it comes to this matter.

            The other reminder that comes out of this is that we are not seeking to condemn the lost.  Like Jesus, we’re to seek the salvation of the lost.  Our hope is that those lost in sin will receive the mercy of Jesus.

            Yet, this also means dealing with sin.  Too often, today, we go about life pretending that we’re innocent, along with those around us.  We spend our time justifying our actions rather than confessing our sin.   In fact, we approve of sin.  And this is something we must not do.

In sharing the gospel, sin cannot be ignored.  It has to be addressed.  We must do so that, like ourselves, others see and understand their need for a Savior.  We must do so that they also might repent, and seek the forgiveness that is available through faith in Jesus.