He may have been considered eccentric by modern standards, in fact his contemporaries probably saw him as such, but he was a man for the moment. John the Baptist was sent by God to pave the way for the long anticipated Messiah. The Lord did not send a politician or a philosopher. He sent a preacher. He wasted little breath on the insignificant. His message was kingdom rattling. Repent and live like you have. Something new is at hand, and you had better rearrange your minds and lives to match. The world braced for the kingdom of God.
The Son of God arrived on a mission trip. He left His home in glory to seek and save the lost. His proclamation echoed John’s. Repent. A different way is imminent which brings a unique approach. He came to live it and to preach it. He explained through parables that which would be distinctive. It transcended human thought and visible expectations. The new kingdom demanded elaboration, and He showed up to provide it. God had but one Son, and He was a missionary.
The crucifixion and resurrection punctuated the uniqueness of this kingdom. Thoughts were flung beyond the boundaries of the visible. He rose from the dead and commissioned a small band of followers with a worldwide task. Preach! They did it with zeal. That tiny group evangelized the world. They were threatened, beaten, stoned, chased and imprisoned. They never stopped. Death only inspired the living. The opposition could lock them up and chop off their heads, but they could not stop them.
Now the message is in our hands, and mission fields beckon. This morning we welcome Jerry Hogg and Larry York to share news of the work in Africa. They will help us kick off our summer of evangelism. Memorial Day has always been the unofficial beginning of the season, and we join in with new enthusiasm to seek the lost. We will close out the summer with a trip to Guyana and Suriname, South America right after Labor Day with the same purpose. It is our season of evangelism.
Exotic journeys to Africa and South America are exciting, but our main responsibility is right here. Not everyone can go to a foreign field, but we can all do something locally. Rocky Mount, Nashville and the surrounding areas just outside our door are filled with the lost and lonely. Now is the time to reach out to them. Pray. Talk. Focus. Share what you believe. A heart without Jesus is a mission field, and a heart with Jesus is a missionary. Let’s make this our summer to change someone’s eternity.
Sunday, May 24th
Brother Jerry Hogg will be teaching our Bible Study at 9:00 am, and bringing the lesson during worship. He has been a missionary in South Africa for over 40 years. Traveling with him is brother Larry York, from the West End congregation in Knoxville, TN, one of the congregations that supported Jerry in his missionary work for over 10 years. Larry is a retired insurance executive who helps support mission work overseas. We welcome them both to Westside this Sunday.
How easily we slip into our judicial roles as we act as judge and jury of the wicked. We see the sin, condemn the sinner, grab a rock and toss it. Another lost soul is stoned into eternity and the self-righteous move on without a thought of their own guilt. Maybe that is why we do it. It is much more difficult to introspectively analyze than it is to criticize.
Jesus exposed the fraudulent. The woman was as guilty as…well…sin (John 8:1-11). She had been caught in the act, so there could be no denial, and it was dreadful. Adultery! There is very little that humans deem worse than that, and the law had spoken. Stoning was the sentence, and they were more than ready to start throwing. A few minutes with the Lord changed all of that.
They left with their proverbial tails between their legs. Why? No one, not a single solitary one of them was qualified to hurl that first rock. Jesus invited a look, not at everyone else, but at themselves. That ripped the mask off of their charade. Sinlessness is the only qualification, and none of them met that requirement. Confrontation with that fact eliminated every potential stone thrower. It always will.
The question remains unanswered as to where the other guilty party was. Adultery takes two. Where was he? The Law said that both should die (Leviticus 20:10). Why did the accusers not drag him in as well? That mystery lingers, but Jesus made His point. He sent the woman on her way with clear instructions to cease the foolishness. He did not minimize her sin nor did He condemn her. He simply told her to stop it.
Jesus signed His own death sentence with that declaration. If no one had ever sinned before, that one would have sent Him to His grave. Someone had to die for that one. He would. How intensely God wants to forgive rather than condemn. A life was demanded and provided. The just is the justifier (Romans 3:26).
Now, back to us. Where do we fit into this picture? The adulterous woman? The condemning scribes and Pharisees? The Lord who refused to join in the condemnation? Jesus came to be light. The very next verse says so. Our steps are shady without Him. Our judgments are faulty. Our hearts and minds remain unexposed. He reveals to each of us all that is within us. We will see ourselves as we really are, sinners in need of forgiveness. We should think about that the next time we reach for a rock.