Beginning – Day 6

“Jesus had known from the beginning who would betray him.” John 6:64

I’m so glad I’m not omniscient. Knowing everything about everybody all the time would crush me. Not knowing things is actually a relief — it takes one off the hook for certain responsibilities.

For instance, if I don’t know how to start the snowblower, then I’m not expected to clear the driveway. That’s a good thing to not know.

In the early days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he called twelve men to be his disciples.  The night before he finalized the list of twelve names, he didn’t sleep a wink.  He spent the whole night praying. (Luke 6:12)

By this time, Jesus had already called Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew, so there were only seven spots left to fill. Certainly there were some good prospects, some fine men from which to choose. What kept Him up all night?

I wonder if there might have been a struggle over one application for the position of disciple. You know the one I’m talking about –Judas Iscariot.

Jesus talked the decision over with His Father out on that Galilean hillside in the moonlight. “Uh…Judas? Father? Are you sure about that one? Do I have to invite him to join the group?”

Yet, when morning came, Judas was on the list.  In fact, Mark 3:13 says, “He called to him those he wanted.” Because, in the end, Jesus wanted the will of His Father more than anything. Jesus knew Judas was the betrayer even before Judas did. But that didn’t stop Jesus from walking on water to him, or sending him out to do ministry with the other disciples, or washing his feet.

I get the same grace Judas did.

That’s all I need to know.



Judging the Judgmental

For the law was given through Moses;  grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  John 1:17

Continued from the last post:  I guess my 4th grade teacher was right.  When I point my finger at someone else, there are three more pointing back at me.  This judging business is tricky.  I looked at those self-righteous Pharisees in John 8 and judged them for their judgmentalism, self-righteous person that I am.

What is astonishing to me is the way Jesus brought grace and truth to this sticky situation.

Truth: Jesus knew the truth about the woman’s sin and didn’t make excuses for her.  He didn’t debate with the Pharisees about the law or the punishment the law required.  In fact, Jesus challenged them to go ahead and stone her, which might have thrown them off a bit.  Except no one could meet the qualifier: being without sin.  Jesus was the only one there who actually met the requirements to cast the first stone, but he didn’t pick up a pebble.

Lesson:  Sin is sin and Jesus is the only one who can do anything about it.

Truth:  Jesus knew the truth about the Pharisees’ hearts: they were not motivated by a desire for righteousness, but by evil.  When Jesus asked the woman where her accusers were, the Greek word for “accuser” was the same word the rabbis used for the devil.  The religious professionals weren’t even aware that they were “caught in the act” of sinning as well.

Lesson:  Only Jesus knows what’s in the heart, good or bad.

Grace:  Jesus didn’t pass judgment on the woman.  He was careful not to bring added shame to her in front of the Pharisees and the people looking on.  Jesus only spoke to her after her accusers had left, saying, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  Although he knew what the law said, Jesus didn’t enforce the punishment, perhaps thinking, “It won’t be long before I fulfill the law and die for that sin.”

Lesson:  Casting shame, guilt and condemnation onto others is not in my job description.

Grace:  Jesus did not cast judgment on the Pharisees.  In a masterful move, he forced the religious leaders to judge themselves.  As they stood there gripping the rocks in their hands, Jesus politely bent down and wrote in the dust.  He didn’t stare them down, preach them a sermon, or embarrass them in front of the people; he allowed them to leave quietly with a little bit of dignity.

Lesson:  Grace causes people to drop their rocks.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what Jesus wrote…

Saved By Grace

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

I once knew a boy who was picked up for speeding. He was issued a ticket and given a stiff fine. There was some question in his mind about the whole thing, so he went back to the scene of the crime and re-enacted the event. It was proven that he couldn’t have been going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone because he had just come to a stop at an intersection and wasn’t able to get up to 35 mph where he was clocked. Also, on the ticket, the car was reported to be brown. The boy’s car was blue. Hmm….  The boy decided that he should plead his case.

On judgement day, the boy stood before Her Honor to defend himself. He presented his case with humbleness and respect. Clearly, a mistake had been made and he was certain that his straight-forward honesty would redeem his driving record. The judge asked, “Were you speeding?” Not one given to lies, he admitted that he was perhaps going 27 mph. “Then you broke the law.” Once again, he reiterated the facts that didn’t seem to line up. “You admitted to going over the speed limit.” Gavel bangs. Guilty.

I once knew another boy who had a fender bender. He was issued a ticket and given a stiff fine. There was some question in his mind about the whole thing, so he went back to the scene of the crime and re-enacted the event. It was proven that the car turning the corner had cut into his lane, causing the minor accident. The officer took both driver’s statements and the boy pleaded his case with humbleness and respect. Clearly, a mistake had been made. The other driver said, “I may have cut into his lane.” The boy, not one given to lies, said, “I did roll forward slightly.” Gavel bangs. Guilty.

So it is with the law. There is no grace. Admitting even the slightest infraction makes you a law-breaker. In fact, the law makes you want to be less than truthful; the law makes a sinner out of you.

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. Romans 5:20

Now, for something truly remarkable: In the mailbox, an envelope appears; no stamp, no address, just the name of the boy. An anonymous note: “Like the MasterCard commercial: truthfulness – priceless.” Inside the envelope: cash to pay for the ticket.

Grace wins hands down.