The grace of Jesus Christ has power to change our lives and to set us free from our unruly desires and passions. Jesus’ association with sinners upset the religious leaders. They confronted him on the issue of adultery and retribution. Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God’s ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life. It was one of the three gravest sins punishable by death. This incident tells us a great deal about Jesus’ attitude to the sinner. The scribes and Pharisees wanted to entrap Jesus with the religious and civil authorities. That is why they brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. Jesus turned the challenge towards his accusers. In effect he said: Go ahead and stone her! But let the person who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. The Lord leaves the matter to their own consciences. When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, he both expresses mercy and he strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn, Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice – either go back to your former way of sin and death or to reach out to the new way of life and happiness with him. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God’s grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is – unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
While many believed in Jesus and his message, many others, including the religious leaders, opposed him. Some of his listeners mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief. It’s impossible to be indifferent to Jesus’ word and his judgments. We are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground or neutral party. When Jesus spoke about going away he was speaking about his return to his Father and to his glory. His opponents could not follow him because by their continuous disobedience to the word of God and their refusal to accept him, they had shut themselves off from God. Jesus warned them that if they continued to refuse him they would die in their sins. Jesus’ words echoed the prophetic warning given to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:18 and 18:18) where God warns his people to heed his word before the time is too late. God gives us time to turn to him and to receive his grace, but that time is right now.
Freedom today usually means “freedom to do as I please”. This notion of freedom, however, is a mask for servitude to one’s passions and unruly desires and to the power of sin. Jesus offers his disciples true freedom – freedom from the slavery of fear, the slavery of selfishness, freedom from the fear of what others might think or say about us, and freedom from hurtful desires and the power of sin. The good news of the gospel is that Christ has set us free from the power of sin. How is this possible? Through the power of his Holy Spirit we can choose to walk in his way of love and holiness. A disciple is a follower and a listener. If we listen to the words of Jesus, with a humble and teachable spirit, he will give us the grace and the power to follow in his way of holiness. Ask the Lord to open your ears to his word that you may be attentive to his voice.
Jesus came to do the will of his Father. He was not spared the cross which he willingly embraced for our sake. His obedience reversed the curse of Adam’s disobedience. The Father crowned him with victory over sin, death, and Satan. Jesus shows us the way to true freedom and victory – freely submitting our heart, mind, and will to an all-merciful, all-loving, and all-wise God. What the Father offers us is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17). The happiest, freest people are those who delight in God. Their joy is the pleasure of doing the Father’s will.
God made us to know him and he gives us the gift of faith and understanding to grow in our knowledge of him. Jesus challenged the people of Israel to accept his word as the revelation of God. His claims challenged the very foundation of their belief and understanding of God. Jesus made a series of claims which are the very foundation of his life and mission. What are these claims? First, Jesus claims unique knowledge of God. Jesus claims that the only way to full knowledge of the mind and heart of God is through himself. Jesus also claims unique obedience to God the Father. He thinks lives and acts in the knowledge of his Father’s word. To look at his life is to “see how God wishes me to live.” In Jesus alone we see what God wants us to know and what he wants us to be.Read Day 7 Devotion by Cristy