The religious crowd can be so ruthless! Remember the woman caught in adultery? Here the religious mob had dragged her before Christ. In their mind, they had caught a sinner, a sinner who deserved to die for her sin! Now, it is not that they were wrong, but the hypocrisy in it all is that they were sinners too! They also deserved to die for their sins! When Jesus exposed them for their hypocrisy, they departed one by one, from the youngest to the oldest!
Yes, today we still have religious people who are all too eager to “throw stones.” Yet, all the while living in sin themselves! Oh, how many haven’t suffered at the hands of the religious ones! Perhaps, you also have been the victim of their hard-heartedness?
Yet, we see that Jesus didn’t come to “throw stones,” that is “to condemn,” but rather that the people may be “saved”! In fact, Jesus allowed them to “throw stones” at Him in order to save us from our sins – from their consequences! Yes, Jesus died on the cross, having been handed over by the religious leaders! It was these that incited the crowds to call for his crucifixion! Yes, indeed, religion stands against the gospel of grace! Remarkably, religion stands for “self-righteousness”! It has an air of, “I am holier than thou”! On the hand, the grace of God reaches down to where we haven been cast down in the ditch, and unlike the religious ones, stops and has compassion on the one cast down and left half dead!
Indeed, Satan has worked overtime to distort the truth! How many of us haven’t been duped into believing that the Father is just out to “get us”?! But just stop and think, it was the Father who showed us the greatness of His love, by sending His uniquely born Son to take the “stones” we deserved to have thrown at us for our sins! Yes, Jesus willingly gave Himself into the hands of people. As we read, “And what shall I [Jesus] say? Father, save from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27) Therefore, as it is further written, “Jesus…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Yes, it was a “joy” for Jesus to see all those who would be saved because of the price He was willing to pay for them! He willingly took the shame of the cross – for us!
A Restored Relationship
Ever have a good friend and then suddenly something happens and you’re torn apart? Can you just pretend nothing happened and continue your relationship as per usual? No. Things must be made right first! Therefore we must understand that our sinful behavior has driven a great chasm between us and our God who is perfectly holy! We are the guilty ones! Whatever shall we do?! Can we make up for our blunders? Can we pay the wage of death for our sin? Can we gain a righteousness equal to that of God’s holiness? Can we keep the ten commandments in a sufficient manner? If we’re truly honest, we know very well that the answer is, “No.” For all of us have, “Sinned and fall[en] short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
This, then, is precisely the reason that it was so necessary for Jesus to come down to Earth as a man. For He came with a specific purpose in mind. He came to take the “stones,” to be judged in our place, for our sins! This He did so that we could be placed back into a right relationship with God! Only in this way could that great chasm between us and God be bridged! He paid the full price on the cross for all of our sin! Yes, God placed them all upon Him and there on the cross He took the “stones” and died – for your sins! This that you could be declared “free from all guilt”!
Now, if this were not enough, then upon believing the good news, Christ’s righteousness is counted to you! It is this righteousness, and not your own, that makes you acceptable before God! Remember Jesus’s words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) No, not your righteousness. For then you would be “the way”! Jesus alone is the way to the Father!
Is it Enough to Believe?
Of course, ‘believe’ falls far short in our English language! We can believe that apples are good for us, and yet never eat one! This is the way our English word works, but not so the Greek. The Greek carries the idea of “getting on board.” So in simple words, in Greek if you “believed” apples were good for you, you would be eating them! Or, you could believe that the plane you’re standing in front of could take you to your desired destination. Yet, never get on board! This could describe the English word, but not the Greek. If you were to believe in that plane in the Greek sense of the word, you would get on board, take your seat, and be committed for the flight!
Now, this is precisely what such words mean in John 3:16! We are called upon to place our confidence in Jesus Christ to save us by what He has done for us! We are to believe that He indeed was the one who was to come – the Messiah! Dwell upon these words, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:22-23) Did you catch that? This Jesus who was to be born, would be “God with us”! Again, just to get the identity of Christ correct, “Jesus Christ. He is the true God.” (1 John 5:20)
Yes, this was the one who came in order to save us from our sins! As written, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Again, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Yes, Jesus allowed them to crucify Him! Yes, He was buried. However, He was raised the third day from among the dead, just as He said He would be! Astonishingly, as prophesied hundreds of years prior, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” (Psalm 16:10) Yes, as is written, “The gospel…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
I ask, are you placing your confidence in Him to save you completely? To give you eternal life because of what He has accomplished on your behalf? He took the “stones” for you, though there was no sin in Him! This, that no more “stones” could ever be thrown at you again! As we read, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”! (Romans 8:1)
Remember God’s promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) And what a promise it is!
Victor J. Reimer
FEEL FREE TO SHARE!
Photo credit: “Day 003 – Shame” by Marc – Andre Lariviere
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.