February 2005

I would like to welcome you the Studies of a Disciple. These are my weekly reflections on ways that we can be better disciples of Jesus Christ. There is no formal format. These could be my sermon prep notes, a Bible Study, or even a song or poem that I have written. The possibilities are endless. You are welcome to borrow illustrations as long as you give the owner his props. You comments are welcome.

My hope and prayer is that this blog stirs up a national conversation on what does it really mean to disciple people into the kingdom of God. I look to hear from you soon

The Message
John 8: 1-11

1 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, 2 but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. 3 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone 4 and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. 5 Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” 6 They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. 7 They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” 8 Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. 9 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. 10 Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?” 11 “No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” You’re Missing God in All This

Lesson on Discipleship
V2 – Jesus was not in a hurry but he sat down. He was probably answering questions and gained his authority from his authenticity rather than his standing over people. Disciples are made in the midst of conversation rather than preaching. This is an essential step in discipling. You can not always be in a rush. The process takes time.

Lesson on Emotional Control
V7 – The Pharisees were really proud that they had an opportunity to trap Jesus. They quoted the law and they were prepared to carry out the law. I imagine that since Jesus was in the Temple there were quite a few Pharisees and religious scholars in the crowd. The text says that they were badgering him. Insisting on an answer. Firing questions at him faster than he could answer and yet the text does not record Jesus getting flustered, irritated, anxious or upset. His entire being was focused on the real issues of the situation rather than the emotional responses to the moment.

When people are dumping their stuff (like the Pharisees) on you your reaction should be like Jesus. He assumed full responsibility for his actions, he chose to stay focused, and he did not allow his emotions to get involved. He cared so much for justice that he exposed their weaknesses and sin without calling a name or directly confronting the accusers of their sin.

No one can make you get upset, make you loose your temper, make you curse or make you act ugly. You choose not to control your emotions. You choose not to be focused on the solution but rather you choose emotions that often take control of you.

Life Application

The truth was the men who caught the woman in adultery had a legal claim to stone her. Jesus challenged the legal nature of their desire by using the same standard. We must note that there is no record of what Jesus wrote in the sand. What we can surmise is that there was something written that placed the same standard they were using against the woman against the men.

Self reflection is difficult. Accountability partners do not always have to share insight but sometimes ask the disciple to do some self reflection. We must ask ourselves, “Am I living a Biblical Christ centered life? “, “Have I fallen short on fulfilling God’s promises.” If these were the questions that Jesus asked then the men accusers had were challenged to either fulfill the law as it related to their sin or show grace.

Extending grace seemed to be difficult to the men. V8 says that they went away one by one beginning with the elders. No one seemed to celebrate the fact that she was acquitted. No one seemed overjoyed that her life would be spared. No one seemed to care that she had been publicly humiliated but the man she was supposedly caught with was no where around to defend her. (Was that a set up also?)

This text is a great illustration of the unmerited favor of God. Jesus exercised and demonstrated this unique quality with the woman. This was strange for the “church folk” of the time. The church folk were ready to stone her when they should have been attempting to find a way to share God’s love. Forgiving her was an act of agape love and this is the basis of grace. Most people can not exercise grace because they do not truly understand “unconditional love.”

Jesus also told her to go and sin no more. There is no record again of what happened to this lady but I do seem to remember a few instances where Jesus showed unconditional love and a new exhorter was born. Mark 5 there was a man who was freed from a legion of demons who then went and proclaimed to all of Decapolis what Jesus had done for him. In John for we find a Samaritan woman at the well who Jesus extended grace to her. She admitted to shacking up with a man who was not her husband because Jesus allowed her to share her story rather than “telling her about herself”. She then went on to be the first woman preacher of Biblical record.

So how do we make this scripture real in our lives?
Look for places in your life to share unconditional love and extend grace – This may be difficult at first but start slowly and expand as you get comfortable. Begin with your family and then expand it to your friends, acquaintances and work associates. This could be an encouraging word to friends, a card of motivation or a random act of kindness. Pay for a stranger’s lunch or wash a neighbor’s car. IF you are really adventurous do this at a local gas station for 30 minutes for anyone who would like a car wash.
Do some self reflection – What are the areas that you have fallen short in? Who have you judged and not been fair to? Start a prayer, reflection, blog journal and look back at the times you could have shared love but did not. Apologize to those who you have been unfair to. In your prayer take time to forgive yourself.
Celebrate when others receive grace or unconditional love – Send balloons, write postcards of encouragement, place it on your web site, tell your friends. Celebrate the joy of those who experience the love of Jesus. My personal prayer is that they will cultivate a desire to learn and grow in their personal relationship with Christ.

Until next week!