7 Reasons Jesus did not allow stoning of the adulterous woman

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The story of Jesus in Jn 8:2-12 is one of the remarkable stories recorded in the gospels.  It is not just a story that turns to be good news to the adulterous woman but also a story that greatly teaches us who Jesus really is. Jesus in this story does not affirm the sin (that the woman committed) but delivers the sinner. By bringing her to Jesus, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were bringing a sinner to the right Person.

Jesus did not allow her to be stoned simply because in Him there is:

  1. Life- The adulterous woman (we don’t have her real name) had already received her death sentence from her accusers: people and the religious leaders. Perhaps they pondered, “why should she live?” but Jesus perspective was, “why should she die?” Jesus had come for the very purpose to seek and save that which was lost and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mk 10:45. Jesus also declares, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. He is the fountain of life and any sinner who turns to him in faith is never turned away but given eternal life.
  1. Love- The woman in this story suffered rejection and hate. She was brought early in the morning and before everyone to shame her before stoning her. But Jesus does the unexpected. He accepts her. This does not mean that he affirmed her sin but in accepting her to come to him he clearly displayed God’s unconditional love. We see this love clearer when we look at the cross. God is love, I jn 4:8. A very familiar verse summarizes it all, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, Jn 3:16.
  1. Forgiveness-All we know about the woman in this story is that she was an adulterer. She was a sinner. Like any other sinner, she deserved death. The people and the religious leaders would justify themselves from Lev 20:10, Deut 22:22. But Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29) took her sin upon himself.

When Jesus forgives he does it completely: he removes them as far as east is from the west Ps103:12; he casts them behind his back Isa 38:17; he casts then into the depths of the sea Mic 7:19; he forgives all our trespasses Col 2:13; and he remembers them no more Heb 10:17. Amazing! He never leaves the woman the same point he found her, he forgives her and gives her a new beginning. Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, Matt 9:12.

  1. Justification– In Jesus there is declaration of righteousness. This righteousness is not based on works but purely on the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, Heb 5:10. It is received by those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice for our sins. The woman had no righteousness of her own but Jesus’ righteousness was imputed on her. This is precisely what grace is.

The ultimate Judge took away her guilt and declared her righteous.  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death, Rom 8:1-2. We also know that, God did not send his Son to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him Jn 3:17.  Who else can condemn those who the Righteous Judge of all has declared as righteous?

  1. Freedom– It is only in Jesus that sinners are set free. In this case it freedom to not sin again. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees had a water-tight case against this specific woman until they brought it to Jesus who dismantled it. It is worth noting that Jesus eventually lets her go by telling her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” v11. The newfound freedom is a freedom not to further indulge sin but to serve the living Savior who had freed her.

In the words of apostle Paul she was told, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your boy to him as instruments of righteousness” Rom 6:11-13.

  1. Reconciliation- Sin separates us from a holy God. In no other way is the wall of hostility between us and God bridged apart from the only one Mediator between men and God- Jesus Christ. It is through the death of Jesus Christ that we are once again reconciled to God, Rom 5:11,12; 2 Cor 5:18,19.

The adulterous woman had broken the law of God, in fact caught in the act, and by status an enemy of God, but Jesus actions toward her demonstrates that God has made a way that sinners can find hope. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, Col 1:22.

  1. Redemption and deliverance– The penalty for sin is death and Jesus’ audience, together with the adulterous woman, must have understood this fact from the Law of Moses. But when they presented her to Jesus, they unknowingly presented her to the One who ultimately pays the penalty of sin once and for all. Jesus death on the cross was substitutionary. His death satisfied the wrath and justice of God. He died on our behalf that those who live might live for him.

Therefore the adulterous woman, and any other sinner like you and me, can live because of the redemption through the shed blood of Jesus. The biblical authors testified, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14. She, like any other sinner who comes to Jesus, was delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. In the same story in verse 12 Jesus further instructs, I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

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How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

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In the contemporary society Christians are faced with the genuine question of how to  live their lives and values in the marketplace, a place where the same values are challenged.

This was a similar concern to the exiles from the nation of Israel (after 586BC) when the temple was destroyed, the city of Jerusalem ruined and they had been taken away from the Promised Land to the land of Babylon.

While in a pagan country of Babylon, the people of God found it difficult to practice their faith because their identity which had been intertwined with the temple, Promised Land and the city of Jerusalem was now lost. In tears they remembered Zion and how their enemies rejoiced over their downfall.

Text: Psalms 137 (NIV)

1By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill]. 6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. 7 Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.”Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” 8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us 9 he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Like the exiles, Christians today live in a world that is similarly an exile (Jn. 15:17; 17:14). This world is a strange land. Strange in the sense that our faith is questioned, our values ridiculed, and our way of life labeled absurd. But while in this world how can we sing the Lord’s song/how can we declare the Excellencies of God. Here are some few possible ways.

We can declare God’s Excellencies (in a strange land) with our:

  1. Skills, gifts and profession (V. 5) – God has gifted us with different skill, talents, professions, and gifts. He expects us to use it for the glorification of his name. The exiles, through their musical skill in singing and playing musical instruments, had an awesome opportunity to witness God’s goodness to their captors. But they “hung their harps” on the poplars.

Every believer has been blessed with talents and spiritual gift(s), to both edify the church and declare God’s praises among the nations. Gladly, these gifts, talents, profession and abilities puts us in diverse and unique contexts that we can turn into opportunities of displaying the excellencies of God in how we do things. Remember your profession is your pulpit and your place of work is your battlefield.

We can make our gifts, talents and careers tools for service and not idols of worship or means of selfish gains. For God has made it possible that what we do can also be done for the magnification of his name, (Col. 3:17).

  1. Lips– The exiles had a good opportunity to declare with their mouths the goodness and the glory of YHWH. Metaphorically, in the strange, my tongue should not “cling to the roof of my mouth” (v6). We declare what we uphold as noble, praiseworthy and lovely. Our identity as children of God comes with a responsibility to make Him known to the nations. Therefore having tasted of the goodness of the Lord, we ought invite others to come to the living waters where they can eat and drink without money and without cost (Isa. 55:1-2).

We definitely have a story to tell. The story of God’s unconditional love upon us; stories of how our lives have been changed by the gospel. We certainly have a story of God’s goodness ,upon our lives, written by God’s ink of faithfulness. We should not commit the sin of silence. Jeremiah confessed that God’s word in him burned like fire, (Jer. 20:9) that he couldn’t remain silent. Like David we need to constantly pray to God and say, “O, Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Ps. 51:15).

  1. Singing– I understand many of us, including me, are not gifted singers. But God calls each creature to sing praises to Him. There is something about singing that connects to every heart. Israel’s captors enjoyed the songs of Zion and so they demanded, “sing us one of the songs of Zion”.

Although the songs of Zion were meant to be sang to the Lord Almighty alone (and not men) and in Jerusalem, the exiles should have seized the opportunity to let their tormentors hear the theology/teachings of their songs. From time to time God will put a new song in your mouth, don’t hesitate to sing it out for the world know!

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  1. Lives– We have an opportunity to make our lives a testament/demonstration that God is alive and actively involved in human story. The four young men in Daniel 1, who were part of the exiles, were determined to declare the faithfulness of God in how they live in a foreign land. Nebuchadnezzar could not even alter their life-values.                                                                                                                                     What is the hope of humanity, that is blinded by Satan, if they cannot see God in us?Living for God wherever we are or wherever we go has been made possible by the indwelling power of Holy Spirit in us.

Our day-day lives present us with tremendous opportunities to demonstrate that God’s values are livable.

Christ is greater than a witchdoctor

“We provide solution to family disputes, businesses experiencing perennial loses, debts, we help attract customers, manipulate court decisions, win elections, sort out infertility issues (to both men and women, protect marriages, we grant assurance to win an interview, we bring back former lovers …”.  These are not my words but promises from witchdoctors in African societies. I regularly see their small posters detailing a summary of what they do, their contacts and where they come from. I have not known the connection between what they do and where they come from, but it seems every ‘able’ witchdoctor wants to be associated with Tanzania, Kitui and Pwani.

Witchdoctors would promise to literally fix anything. No witchdoctor admits a failure, weakness, or inability. Ironically the quality of life they live is deplorable; it is irreconcilable to the powers they profess to have for many of them live in abject poverty. Sometimes I think: if they can fix the problems they claim why don’t they first start fixing their own? But since I see many of their posters in many towns, it seems their business is booming. This is a critical issue in an African context. For a person who believes in Jesus in such a context or formerly from such cultural context how can one wholly trust in Jesus alone as the One who is able and above every circumstance we go through.

First the very key issue here that has to be established is the concept of God. We believe in God (as revealed through Jesus Christ) who overrules all. He rules the heavens and rules the affairs of the nations (Ps 22:28; 103:19, Dan 4:34-35, Col 1:17). He is all-powerful and all-knowing. His power cannot and can never ever be compared to all a witchdoctor claims to do. God’s power overrules all with no comparison. At the same time he is God who is with us. He not only knows what we need but he also cares. And therefore we have no reason to worry (Ex 3:7; Matt 6:26-33; 10:29-31).

Secondly is the believers trust in God and His written word. This is important because we only take our burdens to the one we trust. Apostle Paul writes: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:19. God in his providence is able to meet literally all your needs and not just your spiritual needs. And we should put our whole trust in Him. He may not do it the way others promise to do, but His actions toward us, as his children, are motivated by his love for us. Therefore every aspect of a Christian should be totally surrendered to God who is over all things that happen not only in heaven, on earth but also in our small worlds/personal lives.

Thirdly, witchcraft is part of the powers that Jesus Christ has defeated. We are not unaware of the evil one and his schemes (2 Cor 2:11); its evil powers and those who use these powers to manipulate and use falsehood for their selfish gains. They are part of the principalities, authorities and spiritual forces of this dark world which we should wage war against. Like the way the author of Hebrews would put it- Jesus is superior to all. The promises of men to control human affairs are empty. Jesus’ power, care, loves and supremacy in all things and in what we go through is incomparable to what the evil world promise.

Faith Hope and Love

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There are some crucial essentials in life that God wants all his children to know so as to live a life full of life. That is, a life that is fulfilling while delighting in God.

While addressing issues on spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ at Corinth, Apostle Paul mentions three important things that should remain in the life of a believer. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13). These three are what the church and individual believers should be known for. Let’s have a look at each one of them.

Faith

We all have faith either on a person or a thing. But again we desperately need faith that is firm and that is put on an object that is trustworthy. Biblically, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). We first need trust in God to be able to unlock the mystery of life. Secondly we need to constantly believe the promises of God. Faith in God is not blind but founded upon the promises of God. Faith that is put on people or things cannot stand the test of time. It is only God and his promises that are trustworthy.

It is natural and easy to doubt. But God calls us to live by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:17) for that pleases him. Note that the heroes and heroines (in Heb 11) are commended for their trust in God. Faith enables us walk closely with God. It helps us overcome our fears. Having an active faith in God makes it easy to obey, persevere, foresee, and live a life worthy of God.

Therefore we should be able to wake up into each new morning telling God “I believe you are….. and you can….”

Hope

Each one of us also needs hope. We also live in a world that is in dire need of hope. Like faith, hope can also be put on a something or a someone. When it is directed toward things (money, experience, education, family…) or a human being it will ultimately disappoint because these things are temporary. But hope that is put in God is solid and cannot fail.

Hope in God is able to transform us. When we put our hope in Jesus, we are gradually changed inwardly through the work of the Holy Spirit. We then experience transformation in our affections, emotions, minds, attitudes, and approach to life.

Again, hope is able to make us rejoice in any circumstance for hope in God does not depend on happenings. When we have such expectation we are able to say like Habbakuk, Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength… (Habb. 3:17-19) Hope in God rejoices on the fact that God is at work even now. It is sure of the fulfillment of the things that faith beholds.

One can easily spot people with this kind of hope; they are full of joy, full of life, thankful, bold, and have an eternal perspective of things. It does not mean that their problems are all solved or that all of their prayers are answered. But they are aware that everything is secure in God’s hands and that God’s hands is on everything. They not only anticipate good out of present circumstances but also have hope of glory.

In a world full of suffering, trial, temptations, and evil; it is tough to maintain hope and easy to lose it. But it is good news to hear that God gives hope, he promised the exiles: “For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). He gives it freely!

Love

In a morally corrupt Corinth, love had lost meaning; in such a context apostle Paul defined what true love is. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Again, God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). We see this modeled in Jesus. Therefore true love involves learning from the example of Christ.

True love is not an abstract ideal but a real action to be expressed-loving God and his people. Like the way Jesus showed us, it involves giving sacrificially, Jn 3:16. What about the unlovable ones? Just love them! Life always presents us opportunities around us (of people who feel rejected, abandoned etc) to perfect our love. There is always a room to love and not to hate. And by doing so, we evidence our faith. The Body of Christ and individual believers today can make greater impact in the world by choosing to love. Love alone makes tears roll, tears of joy and tears of repentance. It is the weapon that the apostles used to conquer the mighty Roman empire.

It is faith that made the Thessalonians to turn from idols to true God; it is hope in Jesus that inspired their patience; it is love that prompted them to serve living and true God, (1Thess. 1:2-3).

In your journey of faith never let these three (faith, hope, and love) leave you!

Does Jesus care about poaching of wildlife?

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The current situation and the rate at which wildlife is poached in Kenya and other African countries is quite disturbing. The situation is accelerated, day by day, by consistent silence and inaction. Every week ivory is seized by authorities, and poachers arrested; but the problem is not solved.

It is now a fact that the last male species of white rhino in the world is in Kenya. This one instance proves several cases of extinction of animal species. Today, Kenya burned the biggest ever stockpile of ivory of 6,000 illegally killed elephants- 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns. This leads to the question does Jesus care about poaching of wildlife or ivory trade? The answer is a resounding Yes, he does care. Take a look.

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is very clear on matters of creation. God created all things good-whether plant or animals. God’s creation originally reflected what he wanted. There is a godly purpose and intrinsic quality in wanting animals to be animals. They reflect the greatness, goodness, wisdom and they declare the glory of God.

The problem of poaching not only demonstrates the reality of the fall of man but is also a failure to be God’s stewards over his creation. It is clearly an expression of self-centeredness and disobedience of man before God.

In God’s design, at no time should man attempt to eliminate other creation. Rather, humanity should respect the existence of every creation, preserve it and make it flourish. Creation mandate requires man to be a steward not an exploiter. For he is not at the center of all things, God is. Humanity is part of God’s creation, and knowing its rightful role and place in the entire creation is important in allowing other creatures (like elephants and rhino’s) have their rightful place.

Despite the fall of man, creation is hopeful through the reconciling work of Christ on the cross. Christ promises to restore all things at the very end of age. He cares for all creation. All things include every single creation. God’s creation, like humanity, is hopeful and therefore looking forward to that promised glorious future. Christian eschatology is not only about human salvation but also includes the redemption of the entire creation.

Humanity shares a lot with other creation. They live in the same “home”, the earth, with the rest of God creation. But man as the only creation in the image and likeness of God, is given mandate to accountably rule over the rest of God’s creation. Therefore mankind, in the Bible, is not justified in destroying wildlife.

Today, the massive loss of elephants and rhinos can be attributed to negative human action. The problem of poaching can be narrowed down to human greed. The insatiable greed to “quick riches” through ivory trade is quickly terminating our wildlife. It is selfish of humanity to put priority on self-centered interests and gains over stewardship of God’s creation. The fact that some animal species are facing extinction tells us that they are not enough in number for our greed.

The worth and value of elephants and rhino’s among other animals is not depended on man but God. Their existence should not be dependent on what value they are to man.

For every Christian, participating in conservation of wildlife is a worthy cause, for it is related to the purposes of God. There is some amount of righteousness and justice that comes with becoming faithful to God’s mandate of taking care of his creation. Advocating for elephants ‘rights’ and other wildlife is worth our time attention, money and support. It is an exercise of stewardship over God’s creation.

It is fine to be motivated by the gains we earn from tourism in order to promote conservation of wildlife; it is also good to do it for posterity but it is even greater if we do it because it is the right and godly thing to do. If Jesus cares, which is the case, his followers should. This involves joining hands with other relevant bodies and policy makers in ensuring that the future of wildlife is safeguarded.

Each one of us has power in our hands to do something or to influence for the threat is real. When we participate in protecting wildlife God is glorified!