"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in." Hebrews 12:2a (MSG)
Have you ever experienced walking in a jungle? Some of the
first things you will hear are the cries of baboons and monkeys. They can make
quite a ruckus! If you try to speak with your trekking partner, you won't be
able to hear one another!
Then, unexpectedly, everything becomes still. You are intrigued. Why the sudden silence? Wait. The leaves are moving, and in the stillness, you can hear them rustle at the steps of a heavy creature. Then, as you watch, a regal lion steps into view.
No wonder the monkeys stopped chattering! All the animals are now focused on the King of the forest!
We, too, need to focus on the King of Kings. If we would only follow the example of the animals of the jungle, we could avoid so many blunders.
Take for example, the nameless adulteress accused by the Pharisees and religion scholars: "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 and said, 'Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?'" John 8:3-5 (MSG)
That poor woman was destined to be stoned. No one on earth could save her.
After all, the law is the law.
Interestingly enough, adultery involves at least two people. Where was the other guilty party?
Jesus did not answer the religious leaders. Instead, He began writing in the dirt. The Bible doesn't say what He wrote. Possibly He indicated the sins of those who wanted to stone that poor woman, or maybe He wrote down the name of the guy who was involved with her. Whatever it was, no one was looking at the adulteress any longer. They were all focused on Jesus. It's as if He had taken all the sins of that adulteress upon Himself. Then He said something quite revolutionary: "The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone." John 8:7 (MSG) These words hit those religious leaders head on: "Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone." John 8:9 (MSG). Never had it happened that the guilty party was left behind without being stoned! What stopped those pious men from stoning that poor women? They were focused on Jesus! These religious "baboons" were silenced by the presence of the mighty lion!
"Jesus stood up and spoke to her. 'Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?'" John 8:10 (MSG) It's then that this poor woman looked around her. Her accusers were all gone! "'No one, Master.' 'Neither do I,' said Jesus. 'Go on your way. From now on, don't sin.'" John 8:11 (MSG) Humans tend to accuse others, even with no proof. Jesus just loves and forgives indeterminably.
Have you ever fallen into temptation? Do you feel that no one could ever forgive you? Think again. Jesus tells you: "Neither do I…Go on your way. From now on, don't sin." John 8:11 (MSG). He has forgiven you! "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
A young Muslim teenager (This is a true story) gave her heart to
Jesus. Her family hoped that she would come back to her senses and return to
Islam. She eventually became engaged to a Christian. Sadly, one of the family
members committed suicide the day before the wedding. The family got together
and came to the conclusion that this girl's conversion to Christianity had
cursed her family, and it was for this reason that the uncle was "pushed" to
suicide. They went after her, urging her forcefully to recant her faith. They
threw her on the floor, but there was no way would she deny Jesus. When her
uncles threated to kill her, however, she eventually recanted her faith.
Afterwards she was so ashamed! She left the house and spent the next several hours walking the streets. She wanted to go to church and see her fiancé, but the forgiveness she needed wouldn't come from him. It had to come from Jesus.
That night she dreamed that she was in a bathtub filled with snow. Then Jesus showed up and washed her clean. When she looked at herself in the mirror, she was covered with snow. This reminds us of the following Bible verse: "'Come on now, let's discuss this!' Says the LORD. 'Though your sins are bright red, they will become as white as snow. Though they are dark red, they will become as white as wool.'" Isaiah 1:18 (GW) Love and forgiveness are not only characteristics of Jesus, but of all the Godhead. He showed this clearly while he was in our neighborhood. He loves us so much that He was willing to die for us-for US!-so that we could have an everlasting future!
Focusing on Jesus certainly makes an impact on us. After all, He is the Lion of Judah: "The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has won the victory." 5:5b (GW)
The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available.
The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.