Matthew 7:1-6: “Judging” Others

Read: Matthew 7:1-6

“Judge not, lest you be judge” is one of the most quoted (and misquoted!) sayings of Jesus. In modern thought, it the saying is used by some as a defense to keep others from speaking against a particular vice or lifestyle. In Matthew 7 though, Jesus is using the saying in the context of speaking against hypocrisy, a common theme in the Sermon on the Mount. His argument is in essence saying that those who criticize or nitpick others will end up being on the receiving end of such judgments by his own standard, especially when one has a number of faults of his own. And it is almost always the case that those who exhibit such a critical attitude struggle with their own faults such that they attempt to minimize their own shortcomings by magnifying the shortcomings of others. The illustration of a plank in one’s eye compared to a speck in another’s eye speaks in the hyperbole of the situation.

There are a number of ways that people wrongly judge others:

  • Luke 6:27-38 is a parallel text to Matthew here, but puts the same statement concerning judging others in a different light. Luke argues that when shows partiality based on one’s own state that one is judging another. Jesus illustrates this with the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-36 where the Samaritan loves the fallen man in spite of not knowing where the fallen man was going or where he was coming from while the priests and Levites did nothing of the sort.
  • Ezekiel 16:52-56 speaks of the attitude of Israel towards Samara and Sodom who were looked down on by the Israelite because of past sins. Ezekiel, however, declares that Israel is more wicked than they are. This haughty attitude is precisely the kind of condition that Jesus is getting at in the the Sermon.
  • James 4:7-12 declares that evil to “speak evil” against one another. The context here has to do bashing people over the head with the law in a tit-for-tat fighting match concerning matters of the law. This is the sort of arguments children have when they are both trying to make the other look to be the the greater of two evils. In doing so, James says, one is calling himself one the others judge rather than letting Christ be the judge.
  • Romans 14 expounds on matters of Christian freedom and how some will make their personal opinions about matters to be matter of right and wrong for everyone, then condemn people according to these opinions. Paul says that one should not do this nor should one be a stumbling block to offend those who do have such opinions. Both extremes are in many ways judging others either in freedom or in weakness.

Jesus is not teaching that one shouldn’t speak against sin here. The difference between judging others in any context and preaching against sin has to do with the standard of judgment. When one “judges” like the hypocrites in the text do, he is subjectively comparing himself to another person. When one is preaching against sin, one is pointing out right and wrong action according to objective standards. This is critical distinction to make because and on a number of occasions the New Testament apostles called out people for sin, but it was done with the intent of calling people to repentance, salvation, and in some cases reconciliation after one has been saved. Interestingly, Jesus follows his teaching concerning the judgment of others with discernment concerning how one should treat that which is holy. Pigs and dogs (which were typically strays) were both unclean animals, and in ancient culture where known to eat just about anything thrown to them. And even when one fed them they would get defensive or even attack the one that fed. Concerning judgment, Jesus is teaching that one shouldn’t waste time with those who won’t repent. There comes a point where one has to move on. Paul calls it “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:15-17, Colossians 4:5-6) and cautions against engaging in quarrelsome discussions (2 Timothy 2:22-26).

The call to Christians is clear: speak the truth, but be careful not compare oneself to others. In doing so, one is not judging, rather letting Christ be the judge. It also clear that a Christian should use discernment in knowing when to speak and not to speak the truth. God wants the truth to be made known, but not dragged through the mud!

Lord, help me to speak truth and let you be judge!

Matthew 3:7-12: Baptism

Read: Matthew 3:7-12

John’s words are harsh. He calls those that are coming out to be baptized a “brood of vipers”, which in that time and place was not something nice to say. “Vipers” in the ancient near east were associated with wicked men. Jesus uses the word to describe the Pharisees and Sadducees on 3 occasion (Matthew 3:7, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23:33). It was a serpent who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden too (Genesis 3:1-15). Being called a viper was to associated a person as cunning and subtle with ulterior motives – they saw baptism as yet more religion. Those coming to be baptized by John were “fleeing wrath” which implies that they knew judgment was coming and were looking for a means to effectively purify themselves. The thinking was that the more piety one had, the less likely judgment was to fall in them. Likewise, those coming to be baptized were clinging to their heritage as well, thinking that because they were from the line of Abraham made them special and that they wouldn’t face judgment.

The people were right to recognize that there was impending judgment, but they were approaching it the wrong way, wanting to address sin with religion and traditions without changing their hearts and actions. John on the other hand saw through both of these. He was calling people to repent (that is, change one’s heart and mind about sin) and bear fruit in accordance with repentance. He agrees with the people that judgment is coming when he says the ax is near the root of the tree and every good tree that doesn’t bear fruit will be cut down and burned: There would be a “baptism” of the Holy Spirit while others would receive a baptism of fire.

John actually speaks of 3 baptisms in the text and there is a fourth in the Bible, namely Christian baptism.

  • Baptism of repentance – also known as John’s baptism, was a water baptism was performed by John, and is distinct from Christian baptism. In Acts 19:1-7 Paul makes this distinction where he rebaptizes 12 men in the name of Jesus, which would be Christian Baptism, on which they receive baptism of the Holy Spirit. Christians don’t receive this baptism anymore, but it pointed to Jesus.
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit – This baptism is not a physically manifested baptism, rather it is one that comes when one believes in Jesus and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the life of a believer. This baptism is mentioned a number of times in the book of Acts: Acts 1:5 referring to Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21, Acts 2:38 in response to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Acts 11:16-17 where Peter calls it a “gift”, and lastly in Acts 19:1-7 with Paul.
  • Baptism by fire – this baptism refers to an impending judgment that would come to those who did not repent and turn to Jesus. John the Baptist explains in verse 12 that Jesus is coming with a winnowing fork that would separate the wheat from the chaff – the wheat would be stored while the chaff was burned. This is an allusion to the Lake of Fire Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:10-15 as a place of judgment for the devil and those who’s name are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • Christian Baptism – this is the water baptism that believers receive upon professing Jesus as Lord. Paul in Romans 6:1-12 explains that this baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians in a manner of speaking “die” to sin and are raised to walk as in the “newness of life” that comes from God. Ultimately, those that do believe will have eternal life made possible by Christ’s triumph over death.

Water baptism is a simple and beautiful picture that symbolizes so many things: cleansing, burial, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. While baptism is a beautiful picture and it is indeed a command of the Lord, it in and of itself doesn’t save anyone, rather salvation comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism is an act of obedience that shows publicly and outwardly that of an inward change that comes from salvation. Likewise, it also shows publicly that one is identifying with Christ, which is also another reason folks would get baptized. Whether a new Christian is seeking baptism or one has already received it, it is good to be mindful of one’s motives and use the symbol to reflect on the spiritual reality of all that baptism symbolizes in one’s life.

Lord, baptism shows I have been saved by grace! Let my baptism testify to this!

Luke 6:27-38: Love Without Pretense

Read: Luke 6:27-38

Jesus was the master of quotable truth. A number of his saying found in Luke and Matthew are common vernacular in the English language. A few include “Judge not, and you will not be judged”, “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek”. While these sayings are good and true, one needs to understand them in the full pericope of what Jesus taught and said to avoid misquoting or misusing these sayings.

The contrast Jesus gives in the text between “loving one’s enemies” and doing good to those who are good offers a key insight. Jesus rhetorically asks, “What good is it to do good to those who do good?” This obviously has no benefit, but when does it to his or her enemies, it goes against the grain because it makes the recipient take a pause because there is real virtue in this action because it requires sacrifice. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-36 speaks to this virtue. When asked, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus give the parable talking about a Samaritan doing good to someone in need when a priest or Levite would not. The Samaritan did what was right and good without asking about who the man was, where he came from, what his name was or anything of the like rather than merely restricting his “good” to who where like him.

The virtue that Jesus is describing of doing good while expecting nothing in return is the essence of what is implied by the Greek word, “agape” – one of the many Greek words translated “love”. 1 Corinthians 13 lists in detailed the what this kind of love entails: a virtue that is love without any sort of love in return. Jesus said that this love is epitomized by a man laying his life down for a friend (John 15:13). The reward of such love is not found in what one will receive in return or even in the ease of loving those who are like oneself, rather it is as Jesus says – it is wrapped up in rewards in heaven.

Modern culture uses these sayings to attempt to silence those who preach against sins that aren’t in keeping with the Scriptures, but given the context, that is not at all what Jesus was talking about. Rather, he was admonishing his hearers to become people who were people of conviction that loved by withholding nothing and not “judging” others as the Levite and priest did, even when persecuted. Christians can take heart, knowing that judgment and vengeance belong to God, but can still speak the truth in love – this is not judgment. And those that hear the truth will be won over by love (1 Peter 3:13-16).

Lord, help me to love everyone without pretense!

Joshua 7: The Weight of Sin

Read: Joshua 7

Achan went down in history has the man that disobeyed the ban that God had given Israel concerning the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:17-21). He kept for himself some of the things that he was not supposed to keep, and this ended up costing the life of him, his family, and all he owned. Among the things were gold, silver, and the “mantle of Shinar” – perhaps an elaborate robe of Babylonian origin. The significance of the robe is not explained, but it was perhaps a mantle used by priests during the occult worship of the Canaanite gods. Achan’s misdeeds caused the death of some of the men who went up to take Ai as well. When the spies went out from the Israelite camp, they came back confident that it would only take part of the men to take Ai. They apparently assumed that God was working in their favor when they took the city of Jericho, but he was not with them when they sent men to Ai. Instead of a complete route like they had seen at Jericho, the men were sent high-tailing it back to the Israelite camp. That, and God did not hold just one person accountable for the sins of Achan, rather the whole nation. The gravity of the ban was made apparent by how God dealt with Jericho, but Achan for some reason did not take it seriously and fell to the temptation God had warned them against in light of the ban. In response to this, Israel destroyed Achan in the Valley of Achor which was named after Achan and Achan’s name came to synonymous with the word “trouble” in the Hebrew language.

It is difficult for modern readers of Joshua to fully understand why God would “burn” against an entire nation because of one man’s sins. Achan’s sin seems rather private, but the effects of sin are hardly ever contained to an individual. Sin has a ripple effect that touches all areas of a person’s life and community. God wanted Israel to understand this, and even more so consider what would happen if even a little sin were allowed to germinate and take root among the people of Israel. James 1:13-15 describes sin in these terms – temptation gives rise to lust, lust gives birth to sin, and sin leads to death. Romans 5:12 describes how sin entered the world through one man and spread to every other man. Sin is like a disease: a small infection usually is harmless, but unless the infection is treated immediately, it can grow and become untreatable or even fatal. Jesus talks about maiming one’s self when something causes one to stumble in Matthew 18:7-8 and Matthew 5:29-30. The point here is that a small part can drag down the whole of an individual or even a corporate body.

Sin is as serious an issue today as it was for the Israelites. Christians can learn many things from the Israelites concerning sin and its implications. God was doing mighty works among them – so much so it seems they were getting pretentious about how God was going to act. But the sins of a one man brought God’s action to a screeching halt and instead Israel was humiliated and Joshua was grieved by this. God told Joshua to act decisively and deliberately concerning sin and he purged sin from Israel. Rather than assume that God will work mightily, Christians ought to be humble and seek God’s face at every turn. And in this humility, Christians should also remember to constantly confess sin and purge sin from their own lives to that it does not have a chance to germinate and spread like a ravenous disease. God is faithful to forgive sin and cleanse one from unrighteousness!

Lord, I am a sinner! Please forgive me and cleanse me from unrighteousness!

Joshua 6-17-26: The Ban

Read: Joshua 6:17-26

Joshua 6 lists the Jericho as one of the cities that was under “the ban” translated from the Hebrew word “חרם” (pronounced “herem”). Cities under the ban were things devoted to destruction – that is every living thing in the city: men, women, young, old, sheep, oxen, and donkeys alike. The purpose for this destruction was so that Israel would not be tempted to be as the people living in the city under the ban, worshiping pagan gods. Joshua then cursed the city, saying that the one who tries to rebuild the city will lose his first and last born. This was later fulfilled in 1 Kings 16:34 during the time of Elisha when Heil attempted to rebuild the city of Jericho. The ban sets the stage for the next chapter when one Israelite disobeys the ban and keeps some of the plunders for himself and would lead to their defeat against the city of Ai (Joshua 7:1).

Some ethicists have called into question the goodness of God in relationship to God telling the Israelites on this and other occasions to utterly destroy the people of a city. Some have even gone as far as to allege that this is God advocating genocide. What these allegations fail to take into account is that God is acting in justice against the cities. Deuteronomy 13:13-18 talks about conditions of cities turning to serve pagan gods – such cities commit “abominations” against God – perhaps the strongest word used to describe sins that are the most abhorrent morally and such acts were used in the idol worship of false gods. The Canaanite people are listed among those who were under the ban (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). Archaeological evidence has shown that idol worship of many ancient Canaanite cities included child sacrifices, sexual indecencies, and other horrific occult practices that those who worshiped such gods did to appease these gods. God wanted the people of Israel to not only shun such acts, but not even be tempted by such acts. The act of destroying the cities as such was in part God’s judgment and a way of showing the gravity of abominable sin. God abhors such behaviors and wants his people to realize the weight of them. If anything, it shows that God does not tolerate abominable sins.

What is certain though, is that all of sinned (Romans 3:23). And what else is also certain is that the reality of the matter is that all people are effectively under the ban because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). God does not delight in the demise of the wicked, but would rather they repent and turn to God (Ezekiel 33:11), as Rahab the harlot did. God can redeem those who do repent and humble themselves before him. He made a way for everyone to have the ban removed by every person trusting God to save them through Jesus!  The appropriate response of every person alive is to realize that they are sinners, repent, and believe that God can and will save those who call on his name!

Lord, I don’t want to be under the ban, rather under your grace and mercy!

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: Life After Death

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: Life After Death

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes had just spoken concerning the cyclical nature of life. He juxtaposes the cycles of life against the enduring and unending nature of God, saying that this is in place for the purpose for man to fear God. But to the Preacher, the there is another apparent discrepancy that he cannot find any resolution to, and that is the apparent indifference between the outcomes of the righteous and the wicked and also the man and beast. The Preacher looked at justice and judgment and saw wickedness there, and states that surely God will bring all to judgment to the righteous and the wicked in due time. The preacher does seem to feel confident in the judgment of God, but there is no indication that he is talking about judgment in eschatological terms. He seems ambivalent concerning the nature of the soul after death or where it goes. He just knows that animals and man alike came from the dust and to the dust they return when they die. He concludes the matter, thinking that the best thing to do is to enjoy one’s work, because this is one’s lot.

The nature of life after death was much debated among the Jews up to the time of death. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection but the Pharisees did. The Preacher and the Jewish scholars were like the Preacher in that they were not sure about life after death. Jesus came to the earth and taught concerning resurrection. He said that he was the resurrection and the life. He says that the one who believes in him, though he may die, will live (John 11:25). Jesus proved that resurrection was possible when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Paul thinks the implication of uncertainty concerning resurrection would lead him to believe the same thing the Preacher did (1 Corinthians 15:32). But in any case, what Paul is certain of is that the resurrection is something to be preferred because it will lead to one putting off the perishable and putting on the imperishable (1 Corinthians 35-56). Revelation 21 shows the final judgment of all things concerning deeds where one is judged. The Preacher does not seems to indicated that he believes in such a judgment, but in any case, a final judgment is made clear in scriptures: all will be raised, but some will be raised to eternal life and some to judgment.

Christians need to be wary of the fact that there is an ultimate judgment for all people. This judgment is no joke – it is real and coming and must be taken seriously. Jesus’ resurrection is the source of hope for Christians, but it is also the proof that resurrection is possible, and Jesus wasn’t joking when he talks about the future judgment. The work of man is to be enjoyed in life, but at the same time, Christ’s mission was to propagate the gospel to all creation, and this mission has been imparted to Christians (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians should make the mission of Christ a priority in they live and think. Facing judgment without Jesus as one’s advocate is a scary thought in any respect, and Jesus’ sacrifice is good news considering the reality of judgment!

Lord, Judgment is real! Help me to tell everyone I can about it!

 

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:16-22: Life After Death

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes had just spoken concerning the cyclical nature of life. He juxtaposes the cycles of life against the enduring and unending nature of God, saying that this is in place for the purpose for man to fear God. But to the Preacher, the there is another apparent discrepancy that he cannot find any resolution to, and that is the apparent indifference between the outcomes of the righteous and the wicked and also the man and beast. The Preacher looked at justice and judgment and saw wickedness there, and states that surely God will bring all to judgment to the righteous and the wicked in due time. The preacher does seem to feel confident in the judgment of God, but there is no indication that he is talking about judgment in eschatological terms. He seems ambivalent concerning the nature of the soul after death or where it goes. He just knows that animals and man alike came from the dust and to the dust they return when they die. He concludes the matter, thinking that the best thing to do is to enjoy one’s work, because this is one’s lot.

The nature of life after death was much debated among the Jews up to the time of death. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection but the Pharisees did. The Preacher and the Jewish scholars were like the Preacher in that regard. Jesus came to the earth and taught concerning resurrection. He said that he was the resurrection and the life. He says that the one who believes in him, though he may die, will live (John 11:25). Jesus proved that resurrection was possible when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Paul thinks the implication of uncertainty concerning resurrection would lead him to believe the same thing the Preacher did (1 Corinthians 15:32). But in any case, what Paul is certain of is that the resurrection is something to be preferred because it will lead to one putting off the perishable and putting on the imperishable (1 Corinthians 35-56). Revelation 21 shows the final judgment of all things concerning deeds where one is judged. The Preacher does not seems to indicated that he believes in such a judgment, but in any case, a final judgment is made clear in scriptures: all will be raised, but some will be raised to eternal life and some to judgment.

Christians need to be wary of the fact that there is an ultimate judgment for all people. This judgment is no joke – it is real and coming and must be taken seriously. Jesus’ resurrection is the source of hope for Christians, but it is also the proof that resurrection is possible, and Jesus wasn’t joking when he talks about the future judgment. The work of man is to be enjoyed in life, but at the same time, Christ’s mission was to propagate the gospel to all creation, and this mission has been imparted to Christians (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians should make the mission of Christ a priority in they live and think. Facing judgment without Jesus as one’s advocate is a scary thought in any respect, and Jesus’ sacrifice is good news considering the reality of judgment!

Lord, Judgment is real! Help me to tell everyone I can about it!

2 Timothy 4:6-9: Crowns

Read: 2 Timothy 4:6-9

Paul when writing first Timothy seems to feel that his end is near. He claims that he is being poured out like a drink offering and that time for his departure has come. He’s dying. He says this on the cusp of telling Timothy to fulfill his ministry. Paul speaks of the rewards that await him after he passes to go to be with God, and uses this opportunity to remind Timothy of the rewards that await everyone who God has loved. Paul speaks of a crown of righteousness. The sort of crown that Paul is alluding to is a wreath awarded to athletes who win competitions. Paul feels this crown is well deserved because he has “finished the course” and “fought the fight”. He had spent the better part of his life enduring hardship for the sake of the gospel by traveling throughout Asia and Greece starting churches and telling people about how they could find salvation in Jesus.

The New Testament speaks of many rewards for various sorts of activity. The beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew 5:1-12 speak of many different conditions, each with a blessing that comes from that condition. In addition to the “crown of righteousness” mentioned by Paul there are three other crowns that are mentioned in the New Testament. First there is a “crown of life” that comes from one persevering under trial (James 1:12). Second, there is an “incorruptible crown”. Paul says this crown is received for preaching the gospel and living according to it. It is received because he practices what he preaches, saying the rules and not disqualifying himself by obeying the rules (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Third, there is a “crown of glory” that comes from rightly shepherding a flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). Ultimately the crowns that are received for faithful service will be cast before Jesus as an act of worship because all the glory, honor, and power belong to Jesus (Revelation 4:9-11).

The purpose of the work of the believer is to glorify the Father, and Paul knew this. He had every right to brag about his accomplishments as a Jew, but he considered that all loss for the sake of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). Now at the end of his life, he has worked hard and endured much for the sake of the gospel. He could have been prideful in this work, but rather he takes the opportunity to encourage Timothy to continue because of the prize that await after one’s departure, and this prize will bring the most even more glory to God. Christians in the same manner as Paul should fulfill their ministry and receive the crowns for faithful service. Older Christians who have lived their lives faithfully and have fulfilled their ministry can likewise encourage young Christians to do the same. And on that Day that Paul speaks of, Christians can alongside Paul cast their crowns before God in worship giving the glory, honor, and power to him for all he has accomplished in and through the lives of believers!

Lord, I want to live so I receive crowns that I can used to glorify you! Help me to do so!

John 12:27-35

Read: John 12:27-35

While the people were busy glorifying Jesus and seeking him out — even some Greeks — Jesus was about the business of bringing glory to the Father. Jesus could have asked to be delivered from the cross to which he was about to go, rather he states that the reason that he came was to glorify the Father — he says it is “this hour”. Jesus had declared that his hour had come in John 12:23, and now he asks the Father to glorify his name. The people around, both Greeks and Jews, witness an audible voice from heaven saying that the Father’s name had been glorified and it would be glorified again. The Father had been glorified numerous times in John already by Jesus (John 9:3, John 11, particularly verses John 11:4 and John 11:40-44). The voice from heaven was spoken at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration occasions too (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5). Peter recounts the transfiguration in 2 Peter 17:16-18, recalling the glory surrounding Jesus at the time. These particular manifestations of the glory of God and now this one are recalled not to give glory to Jesus, but that Jesus might pass all the fame garnered to him by the works and teachings he had given to the Father, as was the one here too.

Jesus then speaks of himself being lifted up. He had alluded to this in John 3:14 when talking to Nicodemus. The purpose of him being lifted up was so that those who believe in him will live, just as those who looked upon the brazen serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:7-9). The judgment that Jesus speaks of is not on people, as he said in John 3:18 that those who do not believe are condemned already, but for what Jesus calls the “prince of this world”. Ephesians 2:1-9 and Acts 26:16-18 suggest that people were once under the dominion of “prince of the power of the air” or “Satan” and were sons of disobedience. The evil which enslaved mankind was about to be destroyed, and Jesus would have to die to do it. The Jews and Greeks did not understand this, as they thought the messiah would be a lasting messiah. Jesus knew that he would rise again from the dead, as he had already demonstrated his power over life by raising Lazarus from the dead. Given this, Jesus knew that God would be glorified again because Jesus was to be raised.

In all things Jesus did, whether in works or speech, Jesus sought to bring glory to the Father. His purpose was indeed to bring about the salvation of man, but piggybacking on that ultimately was God’s glory. Paul exhorts believers to do everything as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:7). A Christian’s deeds should seek to honor God no matter who the person receiving the deeds are. In all things, the glory of God is at stake and Christians should be mindful of this. God does not take lightly when his name is profaned by what one does because he wants all men to be drawn to him. God glorified Jesus and gave man the task of spreading the gospel to all nations. No one should miss the opportunity to believe because Christians seek sin instead of good, or claim glory for themselves rather than giving it all back to God.

Lord, draw all men yourself and let your name be glorified!

John 8:1-11

Read: John 8:1-11

This is a classic story from the Scriptures, and often used as a proof text that Christians shouldn’t judge. The woman that the Pharisees brought to Jesus was caught in adultery. The law specified that a woman caught in adultery was to be stoned (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22). They brought the woman to her to see if they could trick Jesus into saying something so they could arrest him. They brought the woman, but it raises the question as to where the man that was caught with her was. The text does not indicate this, but they may have fabricated the story just to frame Jesus. Jesus was teaching at the time. He was writing on the ground, but the text does not say about what. He looked at the Pharisees, and says that the one without sin should case the first stone and went back to writing. The Pharisees each go away because they knew that they were with sin – perhaps even so because they had no real proof that the woman was actually guilty. Jesus looks up at her and sees that the Pharisees are gone. He tells her to go, and not sin anymore.

Some might interpret this as judging others. Judgment, on the other hand requires a conviction of sin and an execution of the penalty of sin. For one to judge, one would have to have both the authority to convict sin and the authority to carry that conviction out. Jesus certainly had the authority to do this, as he is God and God is the one who judges the world (1 Chronicles 16:14). Eventually, Jesus will judge the world (Revelation 20:11-15), but that was not his mission when he came to earth (John 3:17). What Jesus did was simply speak truth into the lives of Pharisees about being with sin and it convicts them of their sin. The conviction was self-conviction. John in his first epistle says that the one who claims to have no sin deceives himself and the truth is not in that person (1 John 1:8). If one says he is without sin, he makes a liar out of Jesus (1 John 1:10). Paul asserts that all have sin (Romans 3:23).  The truth that one is with sin should be enough for one to feel self-convicted and realize that the one is also under judgment.

Galatians 6:1-4 outlines how Christians should behave in reference to sin:

  • Those who are spiritual should restore in gentleness those who are in error. This implies that they should speak truth into the one in error’s life.
  • Those who do the restoring should not be tempted in the same manner.
  • Bear the burden together – that is help one another out in times of weakness. This is one way to fulfill the law of Christ which is to love one another he loved them. (John 15:12)
  • Do not be deceived into thinking one is something when he is not. All are sinners, so one should not deceive oneself into thinking he or she is not and become judgmental in doing so.
  • Each should examine himself and not compare himself to others. One should boast will in himself alone rather than comparing himself to others.

While is is true that Christians are in no place to judge as Jesus has the authority to do, Christians should not be afraid to correct another, but they should also be mindful of one’s their own state. This way, it benefits everyone such that they realize that they all realize they need Jesus’ grace.

Lord, help me to speak truth and let truth be spoken to me!

John 5:25-29

Read: John 5:25-29

Judgement and resurrection are some of the weightiest concepts in all of Christian theology, and in just a short text, Jesus alludes to both. Jesus declares that there will be a resurrection for everyone, but some will be resurrected in to judgment and some will be resurrected into life. John 1:4 declares that Jesus was the Light and in him was life, Jesus is both the source of life (Genesis 2:7) and new life for those who believe (Romans 6:4).  Jesus’ power over life is made evident when he heals the man at the pool of Bethesda, but he says it will be made even more evident when all are resurrected.

But the judgment Jesus is speaking to here is a judgment of deeds. If salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works, then why is Jesus judging according to works? Every person that lives commits any number of evil acts and any number of good acts. In God’s economy though, any one given evil acts makes its doer guilty of the whole law (James 2:10) and Romans 6:23 declares that the wages of sin (categorically singular) is death. One cannot do good deeds to counter act his or her bad deeds because no one deed can amount to the price demanded for sin. The choice is clear then: accept the Jesus’ substitution in one’s place to satisfy the demands of the law or accept the punishment from God. Jesus explains that the ones who don’t believe are already condemned because they have sinned and not believed in Jesus. There will be many who attempt to flaunt their deeds at judgment but Jesus will reject them because they did not have faith (Matthew 7:21-22) but unless one believes and has his or her name written in the Book of Life, he or she is cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The ones who do believe have their sins erased and are judge only according to what good they did in Jesus’ name (Matthew 25:14-26).

For believers, the promise of eternal life is to put off mortality and take on immortality and to take of the perishable and put on the imperishable. In this, believers have the promise of resurrection to eternal life and death has no power over those who believe. This is the victory that Jesus claims over death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). The hope Christians have is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus, because if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then one’s faith is in vain. But Jesus did indeed, as historical fact for that matter, rise from the dead. For this reason, the surety eternal life and future resurrection into glory is as real as the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-19).

The Jews at the healing of the man by the Pool of Bethesda marveled at the sign Jesus gave. What Jesus describes, however, is of epic proportions to that one deed. Jesus had the ability to give life and raise the dead while he was on earth, but at the end of days every person that ever lived will be resurrected and judged. These are things that Jesus could only do if he was equal with God! The question is whether or not that person believes in Jesus or not.  For Christians then and Christians today, there is the assurance of resurrection to life for those who believe. The task of believers is to tell as many people as possible about the good news of salvation so they too can be resurrected to life!

Lord, I rest assured that I’ll be resurrected to life. Help me tell others so they too can have the same hope!

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