2013-11-22 - Ho No Mo!
Author's Note: This was a follow-up message to the Prostitution message I preached to much the same group of youth on November 13, 2013.
Last week, we looked at ways we sell ourselves to so many wrong things; we pimp ourselves out for popularity, power, and money for fame and fortune. Sadly, we all do it. Romans 3:23 says we are all sinners. We have all sold ourselves for something other than God. We ended on this note: "WHOA. GO AND HO NO MO!" Often when I preach, I am preaching every bit as much to myself, as I am to you. It is what God is saying to me, in my life, where I am. It is just my prayer that if I'm there, others will be at about the same place in their own journey, so I spent time reflecting on last week's message and as I did, a story came to mind - a story of Jesus and an adulteress. She wasn't a prostitute, but the story ends much the same way.
John 8:1-11 (NASB)
Imagine this scene. Jesus gets to church early one morning, and he is teaching a small group off in a corner somewhere, when a group of men burst onto the scene, dragging a woman with them. The Bible says she was caught in the act, so in my mind, I picture her perhaps hastily dressed and having been forcibly brought there, just a little weary and bruised, as she is cast at Jesus' feet. And then comes the question from all these men. "What should we do with her?"
The trap is set. If Jesus says to stone her, as Jewish law demands, then he will be going against the rule of Rome, which says that only Roman trials may condemn someone to death. However, if Jesus says not to stone her, then he has not upheld the Jewish law. There is no right answer for Jesus - but this ain't his first rodeo - and he's no clown. With no words, he bends down and writes on the ground for a moment. Then he stands and says. "OK, whoever has no sin should cast the first stone." Take that! Then he goes back to writing in the dust.
The Bible does not say what he wrote, and I've read several people's opinions, but I'll share with you what I think he wrote. I think maybe the first time he wrote the names of each man, as if to say, "Bob I see you. Ted, I see you too. And Will, I see you back there too. Yes I know who each of you are, and I am taking names." And then the second time, I think maybe he may have written the names of some of their own sins.
Lust. Hatred. Drunkenness. Gluttony. Pride. Self-mutilation. Judgmental. Sex outside of marriage. Underage drinking. Jealousy. Lying. Rebellion. Two-faced. Bragging. Hypocrisy. Pornography. Vanity. Cutting. Deceit. Blasphemy. Selfishness. Trashy mouth. Disrespectful. Laziness. Racism. Sexting. Taking drugs. Disobedience. Impatience. Gossip. Bullying. Worry. Cheating in school. Violence.
Perhaps in that list, you see your own sins. Perhaps as you read through those, your own sins came to mind. And then he stood back up, gazing into the eyes of each man, and I believe in that moment, each was convicted by the Holy Spirit, of all the wrong they had done. Convicted and ashamed , one by one, they shuffled away with their heads down and their tails between their legs.
Notice very carefully what is said and what is not said. Jesus does not deny the woman's guilt. He does not approve of her sin. He does not disagree that her sin should be punished by death. He only says that only the perfect are capable of passing that judgment. Let he who has no sin cast the first stone. Only the perfect can be the final judge of a life, and the only perfect one is God.
Now they have all walked away, and the woman looks up into Jesus eyes, and he evidently saw something in her that was begging for forgiveness. Something told Jesus she was not sorry for being caught, but truly sorry. She wanted to repent. She wanted to turn from her ways. That is true repentance. If I insult someone and get in trouble at work for it, and apologize, but later go right back to insulting that person, then I'm not truly sorry; I'm just sorry I got caught. She was evidently sorry, and so he says to her, "Go and sin no more!" Go and ho no mo.
You see God does not want to throw a lightning bolt down from Heaven every time you screw up. He is no Zeus sitting up there, watching us and just waiting for a little screw-up so he can throw a Holy smackdown on us. No, he's not like that at all. Jesus did not cast a stone, when he alone could have. He wants us to look up at him in worship and repent to go and sin no more. He loves us. God loves us so much that the Father sent his one and only son to die for our sins, so that the punishment that woman and every one of us deserved could be pronounced on him.
We are all broken and messed-up people caught red-handed in our sins,but if we come and kneel before Jesus he will forgive. He will give a second chance. That is pretty good news no wait that is incredible news!
A song based on a Psalm says, "And if our God is for us then who can stand against." The world is full of accusers and haters but Jesus will stand over us and tell them, "Cast stones only if you are blameless." What this also means is that since we are not perfect we cannot cast stones at others. Jesus told another crowd this way, "Deal with the plank in your own eye before getting the speck out of someone else's."
So what do you want to do? I do not know where you are in your life, but maybe you have felt a tug in your spirit as you've read this. If you have, what will you do about it? Will you repent and receive your second chance? Will you confess your sin to God, admit it and move on, or will you cling to all of it, out of sheer stupidity and stubbornness?
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted