So many Christians I know always seem to have a bag of stones at the ready. Everyone ready to highlight the sin of anyone else who offends or disgusts them. Tis an old and tiresome debate that never dies.
There’s the group that says we hate our neighbors if we don’t tell them that they’re sinning. There’s the group that says we don’t have to tell them at all about anything, just to live our lives and wait for someone to ask about our beliefs.
But there is a middle ground. The path of Jesus.
So today I bring a question: what was the difference between the woman at the well, and Malchus, servant of the priest?
Don’t worry, I won’t make you strain yourself looking for the passages. I’ll put them here.
That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
Now, that’s all that John saw fit to put here, but I see the story elsewhere also. Let’s not leave it out.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
The story of Malchus. How many of you knew this one? By name? Most miss the name. Many know of him by the story of the healing of his ear.
Jesus loved Malchus. He only healed the man’s ear. He didn’t highlight the sins of the man, or withhold healing to wait for belief. So.. according to the first group of people I mentioned in the beginning, Jesus couldn’t have loved Malchus. Precisely because he didn’t tell Malchus that he was sinning. The whole notion that you have to tell someone every time you dislike something, or are disgusted by something, even if it is actually a sin, is preposterous. And flies in the face of Jesus when he healed Malchus.
Now, to cover the argument of the second group..
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
If we look at this story closely, we see that Jesus did speak to her of her sins. But only after he offered her the gift of living water.
In fact, if you look at scriptures, you discover the only rebukes given to his followers or to the self righteous.
But before you pick up your bag of stones, let’s look at John 8:
Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
Jesus didnt, I note, speak of her sin to her.. hmm.. curious, isn’t it? He spake to the Pharisees, allowing them to condemn, and throw the first stone, but only if they were without sin. So, the allowance of judgement, is reserved for the sinless. And yet, even Jesus himself refused to judge any man. Look at the passage again. He said so himself.
All he really and truly said to the woman, was that he doesn’t condemn her, and to go sin no more. She was given new life in that moment. Another chance.
So, I ask us all this question: if Jesus refuses to judge a person, in spite of being sinless, what makes us, sinful beings, qualified to do so?
Yeah, I’ve heard that before. “Love the sinner, hate the sin..” it’s a nice bumper sticker slogan. But.. I bet you won’t find that in the Bible. And if you spend your time hooting and hollering about the sin you so clearly see, with that plank in your eye, you’re going to miss out on the opportunity to be the witness that Christ has modeled for us. If you can’t follow his example, what good are you to the kingdom of God?
I propose we look at the path Jesus modeled. He didn’t point out sin. He did speak of it. If brought up, he addressed it and moved on. He took each person as they were. Regardless of sin. He addressed each situation as he felt necessary for that specific issue. Today, people still want to bring up a person’s sin, and shove it in our faces, asking what we will do or say about it. Most of them profess to be Christians. They want to cover it up as speaking the facts, or even as calling it the action of hating someone if we don’t speak out against their sin. However, it is still the age old question to bring up..
who among you is without sin? They can cast the first stone.
The sad thing is, though, that it can be sin that’s long over and done with. The vindictiveness of so many church people knows no bounds. Long gone sin, cast as far as the east is from the west. Yet we all feel entitled to bring it back to light and begin stoning them, spiritually speaking. We want to talk about consequences, but we are only barely saved from our own.
The Bible says that whoever is guilty of breaking the law in one point, is guilty of breaking the whole. In other words, a little white lie, one nice little sin, will separate you from God just as surely as if you murdered someone. Or raped someone. Or molested anyone. It is written, the wages of sin is death. It doesn’t make allowance for big sin/little sin ratio. The consequences of what we call a little sin is eternal damnation and separation from God. Just exactly the same punishment as for the big sins most everyone has issues with.
But God doesn’t stop there. The whole verse is: for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. He gave a way to come to him, in spite of our sin. Jesus died, becoming sin, and being forsaken by God. Basic mathematical equation, really. Being perfect, he can die and save all of us, because we are not. Imperfections+imperfections<perfection. No matter how many people accept him, no one can balance it out.
So, put down your bags full of stones.
Unless.. you're the one without sin. Then you may cast the first stone.