“Of course, Jesus did have a message to proclaim to them. But his message was not, “Straighten up your life and keep the law.” Rather, his message was, “The kingdom of God is yours; you are included.”
After sharing this reading from part one, I received the following comment from one of our very own Word Press bloggers, and I thought the question and commentary this blogger offered was so important and so in depth, that I thought I better simply make a part two out of my initial blog on the topic of Jesus and the Sinner. The answer is much more involved than a mere answer to a comment should be; so here then is the question/comment that was submitted to me regarding part one and my answer follows that:
“Is there any scriptural evidence to back this up? I don’t recall any passages relating the words Jesus spoke at these dinner parties. And it seems at odds with the Sermon on the Mount, as given in Matthew. There, Jesus exhorts the people to follow the law to the smallest letter, and he sets even higher standards than the law when it comes to things like murder and adultery. I think he really did expect people to straighten up their lives and keep the law.”
And here is my answer:
There is absolutely no doubt that Jesus intended Christians to straighten up and keep the law, eventually. I understand that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets, though His overall, complete message through out the New Testament was a message describing the great love and mercy of God the Father. Let’s look at a rather infamous scriptural reference that shows us that Jesus was not to condemn the sinner:
16“For(AA) God so loved(AB) the world,[i](AC) that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not(AD) perish but have eternal life. 17For(AE) God did not send his Son into the world(AF) to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18(AG) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not(AH) believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3: 16- 18
God expects those who have accepted Jesus Christ, who believe, to be as perfect as He is eventually, but He recognizes that this is impossible as long as we continue to have the old sin nature. After salvation though, something quite wonderful happens. We are changed. We are “born again.”
Until we become a new creature in Christ, our sin nature remains what it once was and there is little motivation to change it. After we are born again, most Christians desire to be “pleasing to God.” We desire to exhibit “the fruits of the spirit.” The mature Christian exhibits these quite readily. His nature consists of self control, is gentle, loving, compassionate, full of joy, and the other fruits of the spirit. The immature Christian may struggle in this area and has a lot to work on, but still one sees progress in this area of the fruits of the spirit, slowly over time.
Jesus Christ knows that those who are not born again are full of sin and probably demonstrating the old sin nature in most facets of their lives. He isn’t going to harp on people’s sins immediately and begin lecturing about these when God is more concerned with simply bringing people to awareness of who He is and what He did for mankind by allowing Jesus to be crucified on the cross.
Let’s think about the Samaritan woman who met Jesus by the well, who stated after she left “who is this man that told me everything I had ever done?” Jesus didn’t lecture her at length about her sin, did He? He mentioned that He knew that she had five husbands, so that she would realize that He was someone special, and she eventually did, but He was far more concerned that she know and understand that He was/is the Messiah so that she would believe, than He was about judging her sin. Study John 4: 7 – 30 and you’ll see this for yourself:
7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, (F) “Give me a drink.” 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” ((G) For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you(H) living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12(I) Are you greater than our father Jacob?(J) He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but(K) whoever drinks of the water that I will give him(L) will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become(M) in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir,(N) give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
16Jesus said to her, “Go,(O) call your husband, and come here.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that(P) you are(Q) a prophet. 20(R) Our fathers worshiped on(S) this mountain, but you say that(T) in Jerusalem is(U) the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, (V) “Woman, believe me,(W) the hour is coming when(X) neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22(Y) You worship what you do not know;(Z) we worship what we know, for(AA) salvation is from the Jews. 23But(AB) the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father(AC) in spirit and(AD) truth, for the Father(AE) is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that(AF) Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes,(AG) he will tell us all things.” 26Jesus said to her, (AH) “I who speak to you am he.”
27Just then(AI) his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man(AJ) who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30They went out of the town and were coming to him.
Now if we also look at the example of John 8: 1 – 11, we see that Jesus was dealing with the Pharisees, who are legalistic and overly concerned with sin to the point that they care more about judgment and the law then they do about compassion and mercy; Jesus quickly set them straight:
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
As we see from this above example, Jesus first loves and accepts the woman and does not condemn her, then He tells her to go and leave her life of sin.
Christians today need to be behaving similarly with those who are lost.
We need to stop ruthless judgment and dislike of sinners and others who may be difficult to love and feel the great compassion and love that Jesus felt for them instead. These souls will be concerned about dealing with their sins after they have accepted Jesus and believe. Every Christian I have ever known wanted to please God of His own accord and stopped sinning on his or her own, once he or she has been born again. Of course no one can completely stop all sin, but we try; we put forth great effort not to disappoint our Lord and Savior. God expects little more from us, in my personal opinion.
There are, unfortunately though, far too many Christians who believe that it’s all right to judge and condemn, who are not studying the behavior of Jesus with sinners. Jesus offered love, compassion, and mercy FIRST, and judgment and lecture LAST. Let’s attempt to follow His example with those who are lost and still sinning in spiritual blindness; there is plenty of time when they believe and have come to know God for them to change and follow the example that we follow in Jesus Christ, behavior-wise.