THE CASE OF A MAN NAMED LEGION | Mark 5:1-20

images-3This text sits in the middle of several hopeless situations. Just prior to the events we just read, Jesus and His disciples were sailing the Sea of Galilee when a tremendous storm overwhelmed their boat. The disciples were certain that they were going to die, Mark 4:38. Those men were seasoned fishermen, but they were helpless to solve their problem. In their minds, they were in a hopeless situation. While that storm far exceeded their own abilities, it posed no problem for the Master of the Sea. He calmed the storm and He calmed His men.

In this chapter, Jesus moves into a new set of impossible situations. He encounters a man possessed by thousands of demons. This poor, demon possessed man is in a desperate situation, he is unable help himself, and the people around him are powerless to help him as well. After this incident, Jesus will deal with a diseased woman and a dead girl. All four of these situations were hopeless from a human perspective. Yet, in each of these cases, Jesus proved that He was the Master of them all.

If that demon possessed man were alive today, he would be sent to live in a mental institution. That diseased woman would be sent to terminal care ward. The dead girl would be sent to the cemetery. This passage teaches us that whether He is faced with demons, disease, or death, Jesus is able to handle whatever comes His way.

This case really is hopeless. Everyone around him have done everything they possibly could to help him, but no one could reach him. He lived his life in isolation, desperation, and devastation. His only companions were the dead bodies in the cemetery and the demons that dwelt within him. When Jesus Christ walked into this hopeless case, He changed everything.

As we watch the Lord Jesus work in this hopeless case, we need to keep in mind that He can move in our lives with the same power. He can break the chains that bind us and He can set us free! I would like for us to examine The Case of a Man Named Legion. Notice the facts of this hopeless case with me today.

v. 1-5 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVAGE MAN

v. 2 His Problem – This passage opens, with a description of a man who is firmly held in Satan’s grasp. The devil is his master, and this man is in a state of utter hopelessness and absolute helplessness.

We are told that he has “an unclean spirit”! Then, we find out that he is not just the home to one foul spirit, but he is possessed by “a legion” of demons, v. 9. A legion in the Roman army could be anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 men. This man was the host for thousands of evil spirits. In v. 13, we are told that when the demons were forced to leave this man’s body, they entered into a herd of swine that numbered around 2,000! This poor, pitiful individual was totally under the control of the devil!

I would just remind you that this man’s situation is no different from that of every lost soul in the world today, Eph. 2:1-3; John 8:44.

This man was in a pitiful shape, and so are the lost. They are all in a state of defilement.

 

v. 3-4 His Pain – Two words describe this man’s condition. Those words are “tombs” and “chains.” Those words reveal the truth that this man had his dwelling among the dead. The demons that controlled him drove him away from the living and he spent his life in the cemetery.

We are told in verse 4 that the people around him tried their best to restrain him. They would catch him and bind him with “fetters and chains”. “Fetters” would have been attached to his feet. “Chains” would have bound his hands, his arms and his torso. But, these manmade devices could not hold him.

When we look at this poor soul, it isn’t hard to make the leap from his condition to the condition of the lost around us. They are trapped in the same state of pitiful depravity. The sin that possesses the heart of the lost sinner drives him to spend his days and waste his years with the dead. Those who are lost in sin have no desire to be around the living. Death and the works of deadness are all they care about!

The lost hate things that pertain to life. They hate things that pertain to light. They hate everything that has to do with God and His work in the world. They shun the light. They shun the things of God. They shun those who know God, preferring rather to live their lives in the relentless, merciless grip of death and darkness.

Let me add that a professing believer needs to examine his or her heart when they begin to desire the works of darkness. You need to look at your spiritual condition when you find reasons for avoiding the light!

When you can’t sit through a preaching service, you have a spiritual problem!

When you find reasons to avoid the house of God, you have a spiritual problem!

When you find yourself longing for the ways of the world, you have a spiritual problem!

You are beginning to revert back to the ways of death and darkness.

 

v. 5 His Powerlessness – Can you imagine the terror this man caused?

We do not know why this man cut himself. Perhaps it was an effort to find relief from his demons. Perhaps the demons forced him to do it, causing him to walk a path of self-destruction.

We do not know why he shrieked, screamed and cried in those tombs. Perhaps he did these things because he was desperate to be free. Perhaps he did them because he was compelled to do them.

We don’t why he did the things he did, but his actions reveal that he is in a desperate situation and he needs help!

Whether you are lost and bound in sin or whether you are saved and out of God’s will there is only one cure for your condition!

You do not need a pill.
You do not need a psychiatrist.
You do not need a priest.
You do not need a twelve step program.
You need Jesus

v. 6-13 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVING MAN

v. 6 His Compassion – Everyone in that region feared this man. Everyone avoided this man. Everyone, that is, but Jesus!

Jesus Christ did not avoid this man; He made a special trip across the sea and braved a storm simply because He wanted to deliver this one man from the grip of Satan, Mark 4:35.

This man wasn’t even a Jew! He was a Gentile and still the Lord reached out to him!

We see people and sometimes we think that some are a lost cause. We may wonder if they can or will be saved. Well, I can’t tell you for sure that they will be, but I can look around this very room and I see case after case of men and women that others had written off as a lost cause. You are here and saved today because the Savior had compassion on you!

He loved you in spite of your sins and He came to where you were to deliver you from the bondage that gripped your heart and life. He loved you enough to die for you on the cross, Rom. 5:6-8, and He loved you enough to come and set you free.

No one is beyond the compassionate touch of the Master!
Not Zaccheaus in his tree.
Not Saul of Tarsus with his agenda of hate and destruction.
Not the Ethiopian eunuch with his religious confusion.
And not even you with all the baggage you carry.
There is a compassionate Savior waiting to set you free!

Jesus sees people with a different set of eyes than we do! We see their sins, He sees what He can make of their lives!

We see a drunk, He sees a deacon!
We see a drug addict, He sees a preacher!
We see a harlot, He sees a choir member!

That is how lives are changed when they come to Jesus! He will take what you give Him and He will give you something much more precious in return!

Give Jesus your Jacob, the schemer; He’ll give you back an Israel, a prince with God.
Give Jesus your Simon, the cursing fisherman; He’ll give you back Simon Peter, a mighty preacher.
Give Jesus your Saul, persecutor of the church, He’ll give you back Paul, militant missionary apostle. Give Jesus your self, and you will be amazed at what He can do with you.
It is amazing what Jesus can do when a life is placed in His hands, 2 Cor. 5:17! That is the power of the new birth, John 3:3, 7.

v. 6-13 His Confrontation – This man, who ran from everyone else, ran to the Lord Jesus and fell at His feet. The demons that drove this man away from all human relationships drove him to the feet of Jesus.

They fell down in acknowledgement of His deity. They were bowing in subjection to the Lord of Lords!

The demons acknowledge the deity and authority of Jesus, v. 7, and they beg Him not to “torment” them. That is, they beg Him not to send them to Hell, Luke 8:31.

Jesus confronts the demons, ordering them to release their captive, v. 8.

The demons then request that they might be allowed to enter into a heard of swine that was feeding nearby, v. 11-12.

Jesus gives them permission and they leave the body of the man and enter the swine, v. 13.

When they do, the swine cannot tolerate the demons and kill themselves by running in to the sea, v. 13.

This is a strange passage, but it teaches us some important truths.

It teaches us that all spirits are subject to the Lord’s authority. They recognize His position and His authority, v. 7. They know they must have His permission to do the things they do, v. 10-13.

It often looks like the devil is walking off with the victory.

v. 13 His Command – Every human effort had failed to deliver this poor soul from his bondage. Everything that had been tried to help him regain a grip on his own sanity had proven useless. But, one word from Jesus and He was free!

One word from Him and death is swallowed up in life!
One word from Him and darkness is driven away by the light!

v. 14-20 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SALVATION MIRACLE

v. 14-16 This Man Was Changed – When the pigs ran down the mountain and killed themselves, the servants who were tending the herd went to town and told their masters what had happened. The townsfolk came to see for themselves. When they arrived, they heard all the details and they could see the evidence of a changed life right before their eyes.

V. 15 Jesus Changed Him – He is no longer running about, crying, and cutting himself. Now, he is calm and seated beside Jesus! What a change!

You cannot meet Jesus and remain the same. He changes all those who come to Him, John 3:3, 5; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10!

V. 15 Jesus Clothed Him – No longer is this man naked, now he has clothes!

Jesus changed him from the inside out! What we need to notice here is that what Jesus does in the heart of a man is ALWAYS worked out on the outside of a man, Matt. 12:35!

V. 15 Jesus Calmed Him – We are told that he is in his right mind! Where there has been turmoil and agitation, there is now perfect peace! He has been changed spiritually, physically and mentally!

THE CASE OF THE DYING THIEF |Luke 23:32-43

thiefoncrossThis text presents three men. It speaks of three men who have been nailed to three crosses, dying three terrible deaths. The differences in their suffering were minimal. The differences in the men were enormous.

First, on one side there is a thief dying in his sins. He has lived a life of crime, broken the laws of Rome, and has been sentenced to die. The sentence is being carried out, and this man is dying a horrible death. This man is rude, arrogant, and proud. He is in a hopeless situation. He is dying in his sins.

Secondly, on the other side, another thief is dying for his crimes. He is just as guilty as the first man. He has committed the same crimes, offended the same government, and has received the same sentence. He is paying the same price, feeling the same pain, and dying the same death. Yet, he is different from the first man. While the first man is dying in his sins, this man is dying for his sins. This man is well aware of what he is facing. His eyes are opened to his condition and he is willing to do what it takes to get God’s help. Yet, he is still in a hopeless condition.

Third, in the middle another man hangs on a cross. He has offended some very powerful people. This man has spent the past three years traveling around the country preaching and teaching. This man has healed the sick, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. He has done nothing wrong except expose the corruption of the religious leaders of the nation of Israel.

The man in the middle is very different from the other two men. He is so different from others because that He has never done anything wrong. He has never sinned. He has never committed a crime. He has never treated anyone badly. Yet, He is feeling the same pain, paying the same price, and dying the same death as the guilty men on either side of Him. This man, the man in the middle, is dying for sin. That is what makes Him different.

From every appearance this text details a hopeless situation:

  • Three men are nailed to three crosses.
  • Three men are dying terrible deaths.
  • Three men dying deaths so horrible that we cannot imagine how bad they were.

By the time the sun goes down, all three of these men will be dead and in eternity. It really is a hopeless case.

I would like for us to spend some time at Calvary today considering this terrible scene. I want to show you once again how the Lord Jesus is able to bring hope to the hopeless. Our Lord is able, by His power, to transform any hopeless situation into a time of hope and blessing.

Let’s examine The Case of the Dying Thief and note the ways this passage teaches us that there is Hope For Hopeless Cases.

VERSE 32-38 HIS HOPELESS SITUATION

The description here clearly declares that this man is in terrible trouble. He is in a hopeless situation. Notice why:

Verse 32-33 The Thief and His Sin – This man is called a “malefactor.” This word means, “evil doer.” Matt. 27:38 says that he was “a thief.” He is guilty of breaking the laws of men.

His problem is far more serious than that because he is also guilty of breaking the law of God. He was a “thief.” That means that, among other things, he is guilty of breaking the 8th Commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not steal,” Ex. 20:15. Beyond that he is guilty of committing blasphemy in that he openly joined the Jews and the other thief in mocking Jesus Christ. Matt. 27:39 says the crowds “reviled” Jesus. Then, Matt. 27:44 says, “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” Which means that the thieves “reviled” and “mocked” Jesus just like the crowd did. What is tragic is that the word “reviled” means “to blaspheme.” In other words, the crowd and the thieves were guilty of speaking evil, wicked things against the Lord. They committed a serious offense, and they sinned against the Lord.

This is a reminder to us all that we are sinners before God. We may not be guilty of things like theft or murder, but we are sinners. One day, we will face His wrath. The only possibility of escape for us is Jesus Christ.

In Verse 33  we see “The Thief And His Sentence” – Verse 33 tells us that this poor thief suffered the worst possible sentence for his crime. He was “crucified!” Crucifixion was a means of execution perfected by the Romans.

We see also in Verse 33 “The Thief And His Sorrow” – What is truly tragic is that two of the men dying that day are facing something far worse than the cross when they died. These two thieves were sinners, who are not prepared to face death. They are both headed to Hell. Hell is a place far worse than any cruelty devised by man.

This man, who was dying so difficult a death, is not going to a place of peace and rest. Death for him would not be a sweet release from the pains and problems of life. He is not going to a place of rest and safety. He was headed to a place called Hell. He is headed to a place of eternal fire, eternal torment, eternal damnation, and eternal separation from God. This thief is in a hopeless situation. He is nailed to a cross! He will die there! At this moment in time, he is lost and headed to Hell!

And, in this condition, He is a picture of every lost sinner in the world. Keep listening! There is hope for you, and His name is Jesus!

VERSE 39-42 HIS HONEST SUPPLICATION

Sometime, somehow, during those hours on the cross, this man became aware of just how much trouble he was in. When his eyes were opened to his situation, he did the only thing he could do: he reached out to Jesus.

In Verse 39-40 we see His Rebuke – Earlier in the day, both thieves had mocked the Lord Jesus, Matt. 27:44.

  • Unrepentant Thief – Sometime later in the day, one of the thieves began to verbally assault Jesus once again. In effect, he says, “If you really are who you claim to be, save yourself, and save us too! If you really are the Son of God, if you really are the Messiah, prove it!” The thief who said that is in pain. He is angry. He wants off the cross. He sees Jesus nearby and he knows who Jesus claims to be, so he unleashes his fury against the Lord.
  • The Repentant Thief – the one we have been talking about, he hears his companion mocking Jesus, and he comes to the Lord’s defense. In response, he says, “Do you have no fear of God? You are dying the same death He is!” What he means is that death is coming for all three of them. Now is not the time to attack one another. Now is a time to prepare to meet God.

This gives us a glimpse into this man’s heart. He is dealing with his mortality. He is dealing with the fact that he is going to die. I don’t know what was in his heart, but it seems to me that he is looking back over a wasted life. He is keenly aware that he is where he is because of the path he has chosen in life.

He is also very aware that he is facing an eternity for which he is not prepared. So, he rebukes the other thief for his cold-hearted treatment of the dying Christ. His rebuke is evidence that God has opened his heart and has allowed him to see his condition.

Verse 41 we see His Revelation – The thief we are considering rebukes his fellow thief, then in the very next breath, he confesses his own guilt. He says, “We are guilty, and we are getting just what we deserve.” Then, he confesses how he really feels about the Lord Jesus. He says, “This man has done nothing wrong!”

In his words here, we see two essential components of salvation.

  • The confession of sin – Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9
  • An understanding of who Jesus is – Rom. 10:9

In Verse 42 we find His Request – In the midst of his personal agony; in the midst of his own death, this man looks to Jesus and calls on Him in simple faith. This is amazing! After all, Jesus is dying too!

Jesus must have presented a tragic figure that day. He has been beaten so badly that Isaiah said, “But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” 52:14. Jesus is nailed to a cross, and He is going to die. Yet, this man is able to see in Jesus the truth that Jesus is more than a man.

This man looks at the dying Lord and he sees more than nearly anyone else saw that day.

Based on what he understands about Jesus, he makes an incredible request. He asks another dying man to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. That is incredible! When this man looked at Jesus Christ, he did not see a dying victim of the Roman system. Everyone else, for the most part, saw nothing more than just another poor man hanging, battered and bleeding on a cross.

  • This man looked at Jesus and he saw God, verse 40.
  • He looked at Jesus and he saw perfect righteousness, verse 41.
  • He looked at Jesus and he saw One Who was going to somehow conquer death; rise again; rule in power and glory and extend grace to the undeserving, verse 42!
  • He looked at Jesus, wearing that cruel, mocking crown of thorns and he saw Jesus wearing three crowns.
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of the universe by calling Him “Lord.”
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of his own heart by saying “remember me.”
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of David by saying, “When Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”

VERSE 43  WE SEE HIS HEAVENLY SALVATION

“And Jesus said unto Him…” Jesus reached out to a man who did not deserve anything but judgment.

  • This man could not do anything for God.
  • This man could not give anything to God.
  • This thief did not deserve salvation.
  • He did not deserve the attention of the Savior.
  • He did not deserve for Jesus to speak to him, to help him, much less to save him.
  • He did not deserve for Jesus to do anything at all for him, especially to remember him at some future date in the kingdom.
  • When Jesus responds, He says, “To day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise!” Oh what words of love! Oh what words of grace! Oh what words of joy!
  • How those words must have comforted and thrilled this poor dying man.
  • He had nothing to commend himself to God.
  • He would never be able to read God’s Word.
  • He would never have the opportunity to repay his victims.
  • He would never have the chance to live a productive life.
  • He would never go to the synagogue.
  • He would never be baptized.
  • He would never give his tithe.
  • He would never personally tell anyone else about the Lord.

Yet, the Lord spoke to him and promised to give him everything! He promised it all without any strings attached. He promised salvation, hope, grace, joy, and glory and Jesus asked nothing in return! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

THE CASE OF THE GUILTY WOMAN | John 8:1-11

guilty_alshepmcrOur text tells us about a guilty woman. She is brought trembling into the presence of Jesus, she knows in her heart that she is about to be stoned to death.

When this woman met Jesus, her life changed forever. Her sin was forgiven. Her guilt was removed. Her fear was turned to peace. What appeared to be a hopeless case suddenly became a time of forgiveness, salvation and joy. I want to examine The Case of the Guilty Woman today.

Let’s imagine the scene. It is very early in the morning. Jesus is sitting in the Temple. A crowd has gathered around Him as He teaches them the word of God. It is a scene of peace and tranquility.

Suddenly, the quiet is shattered by an approaching crowd. Angry voices are shouting. There is the sound of a struggle. With a trembling voice, a woman cries out for mercy.

In the next moment the crowd reaches Jesus, and a disheveled, weeping woman is thrown at His feet. Her accusers launch into their attack against her. They claim to have caught her engaged in a vile sin. They bring her to Jesus and they demand that He answer a simple question: “We caught this woman in the act of committing adultery. The Law of God says this woman should be stoned to death. What do you say about this woman and her sin?”

  • This poor woman’s story speaks to us today.
  • This story teaches us that no sinner is too far gone.
  • It teaches us that no one’s guilt is too deep.
  • It teaches us that no one is beyond the reach of the grace of God.
  • This is a story of hope in the midst of hopelessness.

Notice with me the facts of her story that teach us about the marvelous grace of God as we consider The Case Of The Guilty Woman.

THE SINNER AND HER GUILT

The Woman and Her Sin – Verse 4 This woman was caught in “the very act” of adultery. Evidently, this is woman was betrothed to be married. I say that because betrothed women who were found guilty of adultery were stoned, while married women were strangled. She was caught having sexual relations with a man to whom she was not engaged. She was guilty of a terrible sin, of that there was no doubt. Her guilt is beyond question.

  • Yet, as horrible as the sin of adultery is; it is no worse, in the eyes of God, than any other sin,James 2:10. All sin is evil in His sight.
  • Certainly, some sins carry greater consequences than others.
  • Sin, regardless of how large or how small we think that sin is, is just a reflection of the depravity that exists within the human heart. In fact, even if we could somehow live our whole lives without committing a single sin with our bodies or in our minds, we would still stand guilty as sinners before the Lord!
  • Each of us is just as guilty as this adulterous woman, our problem is that we simply won’t admit to it. And, admitting that we are sinner is the first step toward finding forgiveness.

The Woman And Her Shame – This poor woman was grabbed up from the place where she was engaged in adultery. She is exposed physically. She is humiliated.

  • Beyond that, her true spiritual condition is exposed for all to see. Everyone knows what she is and what she has done. She is brought to public shame. I wonder if she saw just how shameful her sin was in the eyes of the Lord?
  • Sin is a shameful thing!
  • The sinner will always be brought to shame, if not before other people, surely before the Lord.
  • “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” 15:3.
  • “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops,”Luke 12:3.
  • “…and be sure your sin will find you out,” 32:23.

The Woman And Her Sentence – This woman was guilty, and the men who accused her were correct; she deserved to die. The Law of God said so:

  • Leviticus 20:10 “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death,”
  • Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel,”.
  • Adulterous women who were betrothed were stoned to death, married women were strangled, and if the woman was the daughter of a priest, she was to be burned to death.
  • Of course, there was a little problem with their accusation: Where was her partner?Both were supposed to die for this sin! The man may have been part of this scheme to attack Jesus. He may have been allowed to slip away. Regardless of where the man was, this woman was guilty and she deserved to die.
  • Again, there is a lesson here for us: nobody gets away with sin!
  • Sin demands a price, and that payment always come due
  • This woman is trapped! What can she do? She can’t deny her sin; she was caught in the very act of adultery.
  • To whom could she plead her case?
    • The Law condemned her.
    • The crowd condemned her.
    • The religious establishment condemned her.No one would speak for this woman, but while she didn’t know it yet, she had found One Who would stoop for her!
  • Oh the foolishness of these scribes and Pharisees! In their effort to humiliate this woman, and to discredit the Lord, they brought her to the best possible place. They brought her to the very man who could deal with her sins in grace and forgiveness. They brought her to the one man who could save her soul!
  • Let me just remind all the guilty sinners in this room, Jesus loves you, and He cares about you. He is the sinner’s Friend! In His day, Jesus was known to hang out with notorious sinners,Luke 7:34; Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7. Jesus isn’t concerned about His reputation, He is only concerned with your eternal soul!

THE SOLICITORS AND THEIR GUILE

Verse 6 Their Shameful Scheme – These religious legalists were attempting to pin Jesus on the horns of a dilemma.

  • If Jesus let the woman go without condemning her sin, He would be seen as being easy on sin. He could be labeled a compromiser, and could He have been arrested for violating the Law.
  • If, on the other hand, He endorsed the stoning on this woman, He could then be accused before Rome as an upstart and a seditionist, and He would have destroyed His reputation as being the “friend of publicans and sinners.”
  • They felt that no matter what Jesus said, He had no wiggle room.
  • We know this was a setup. It was an attempt to trap Jesus in an effort to get rid of Him. Either they could discredit Him with the people, with Rome, or in His relationship to the Law. This brings to mind a couple of questions. How did they accomplish this?
    • Did they witness a suggestive glance between two people and follow them to try and catch them in adultery?
    • Did they orchestrate the adultery simply as a means to destroy Jesus? If so, this would explain the lack of an accused male. The man could very well have been one of their number.
    • How were so many men able to witness such a lurid and obscene situation?
    • Where was their compassion for this sinful woman?
    • It’s sad that they would use this woman to achieve their own selfish ends with no regard for the condition of her soul. Its obvious that she needed help. They didn’t care. All they cared about was destroying Jesus and His ministry.
  • This just reminds us that religious legalists never change. They cared nothing about this woman, her sin, her soul, or her eternal destiny. They cared nothing about right and wrong. All they cared about was pressing their agenda, attacking their enemy, and promoting their brand of righteousness. Thing haven’t changed! All Pharisees are the same!

Their Shocking Setback– Their scheme might have succeeded had they tried it with someone else, but they were dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ, and He refused to play by their rules! When they attacked Jesus they came against a man Who knew what was in their hearts. Notice how He responded to their accusations.

  • Verse 6 How Jesus Reacted To Them – While they were talking to the Lord, asking Him His opinion about the woman, her adultery, and the demands of the Law, Jesus did something very strange. He knelt down and began to write on the ground. This is the only time we have a record of our Savior writing anything during His earthly life.
  • The question that has plagued the minds of Bible students for 2,000 years is this:What did Jesus write when He wrote with His finger on the ground? As I said, many people have put forth many possible answers to that question.
  • Today, I am going to give you a deep theological answer:I don’t know, and neither does anyone else!
  • While I can’t tell you with certainty what Jesus wrote, I can give you some things to think about. Let’s speculate for a moment.
    • Perhaps He was reliving the moment when His finger first touched the dirt.On that occasion, He formed a man from the dirt and breathed into Him the breath of life. Perhaps He was reflecting on how far the human race had fallen from that lofty beginning. A woman guilty of adultery. A crowd of men who claimed to love God, but who had no love for a sinner. It must have broken His heart. It still does!
    • Perhaps He wrote the Ten Commandments. After all, it was his finger that wrote them in stone when He gave them to Moses.
    • Perhaps He wrote the names of their girlfriends in the sand.
    • Perhaps He was simply ignoring them.
  • Whatever the Lord wrote on the ground that day, it arrested their attention. They were all convicted by His words, and they dropped their rocks, their demands for justice, and they left. By the way, He knows how to speak to our hearts as well, doesn’t He?

Verse 7-9 What Jesus Revealed About Them – When Jesus did speak, He said, “He that is without sin among, let him first cast a stone at her.” He stood back up and He said, “Stone her! But let the man without sin be the one to cast the first stone.” Jesus wasn’t requiring that these accusers be sinless. If that was the case then no human would ever be able to render judgment in any matter, even in a court of law.

  • Jesus spoke, then He stooped again.

THE SAVIOR AND HIS GRACE

If you will allow me, I want to backtrack for a moment. As I mentioned a moment ago, we will never know, this side of Heaven, just what Jesus wrote on the ground that day. And guess what? It doesn’t matter! What matters is this statement in verse 6, “But Jesus stooped down…”

When Jesus stooped that day:

  • He descended below the scribes and the Pharisees.
  • He descended below His disciples.
  • He descended below the crowds that had gathered in the Temple.
  • He even descended below the guilty woman standing before Him.
  • Her accusers had to look down to see her, now they had to look even lower to see Him!

Stooping was not a new thing for Jesus! He often stopped during His ministry.

  • He stooped to wash the feet of His disciples.
  • He stooped to touch a poor leper.
  • He stooped to embrace little children.
  • He stooped to catch Peter when He was sinking in the waves.
  • He stooped to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • He stooped to allow the Roman soldiers to beat Him with a cat o’ nine tails.
  • He stooped to carry His cross to Calvary.
  • He stooped here to write in the dirt.

His stooping is a picture of His grace. Let’s notice how the Lord extended grace to this sinful woman. When Jesus stooped here, He stooped for this woman. When He stood up, He stood up for her too!

Verse 9b-10  How Jesus Confronted Her – When the last rock had hit the Temple floor, Jesus stood up and faced this sinful woman. Standing there before her, He was the only One the world has ever known Who was qualified to take up those stones, and execute her for her sins. When she faced Jesus, she was facing the ultimate judge!

She came to a place where life came down to just Jesus and her. By the way, it always comes down to that! Eventually, somewhere, someday you are going to have to face Jesus. Eventually, somewhere, someday you are going to have to bow to Jesus!

I am sure that He has given you many opportunities in this life to come to Him. What have you done with those opportunities? You will either bow to Jesus Christ here, when you come facet o face with Him, or you will bow to Him when you face Him on judgment day. Which would you rather it be? In the end, it always comes down to just you and Jesus. And, what you do with Him will determine where and how you spend eternity, 1 John 5:12.

Verse 10-11  How Jesus Cleansed Her – The only One qualified to throw a stone refused to! Jesus dealt with her on the basis of mercy and grace. She deserved judgment, but He gave her forgiveness! Those religious men condemned her and said she was worthy of death. Jesus saw someone who was worthy of His love. He saw someone worth saving.

Jesus looked at that guilty woman and said, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”

His question is this, “Are there any witnesses against you? Has anyone passed sentence on you?”

Her answer is simple, “No man, Lord.”

His forgiveness is instant, “Neither do I condemn thee.”

When this woman looked to Jesus by faith and received the grace He offered to her, her salvation was instantaneous. That’s how it works for all of us! Rom. 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved!” It doesn’t get any easier than that! Even small children can comprehend that truth and make it real in their lives. What about you? Have you taken this step of faith?

Everyone who comes to Jesus by faith receives forgiveness for all their sins and absolute liberation from all condemnation, Rom. 8:1, 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Beloved, that is shouting ground!

How Jesus Completed Her – When Jesus cleansed her, He said, “Go and sin no more.” All of her life, this woman had been subject to Satan. She had been a prisoner of her own lusts and desires, Eph. 2:1-3. Jesus came to her and unlocked the shackles that bound her to her sin, and He set her free!

How her life must have changed! Think of her years later as she looks at her children and her husband. A family she would have never had if she hadn’t met Jesus. Think of the other families that were spared the pain of her adulteries.

Jesus specializes in taking wasted, ruined lives and saving them by His grace and restoring them to usefulness. Every person who comes to Jesus for salvation receives a new life, 2 Cor. 5:17.

In verse 10 Jesus called her “Woman”. He only used this term twice in the Gospel of John. Once in chapter 2 and again in chapter 19. Both times it was a title of honor applied to His mother Mary. It would be equivalent to the term “lady”. It was a term of honor given to a woman worthy of honor.

This woman was anything but a “lady”. Jesus has a way of seeing things that are not as though they were. In other words, He did not see this woman as she was, He saw her as she could become through Him! Jesus took a wicked, godless, carnal, sinful woman and turned her into a lady!

When Jesus looks at a life, He sees a person as they can become through faith in Him. Just so you know, your life doesn’t have to remain like it is right now. It can be better, it can be new, it can be pleasing to the Lord, but only if you will come to Jesus!

How was all this made possible? Why did the accusers drop their stones and leave the Temple? Why was the Lord able to forgive this sinful woman? Why is He able to offer people like us His grace and His salvation?

He is able to do all that and more because He stooped. Think about it!

  • He stooped to be born in a manger! Phil 2:5-8
  • He stooped to live in poverty! 2 Cor. 8:9
  • He stooped to work as a carpenter!
  • He stooped to eat with sinners!
  • He stooped to be hungry, tired and thirsty!
  • He stooped to sleep in a boat!
  • He stooped to sit on a well!
  • He stooped to spend time with tax collectors!
  • He stooped to touch lepers!
  • He stopped to be beaten!
  • He stooped to be spit upon!
  • He stooped to be ridiculed and mocked!
  • He stooped to be nailed to a cross!
  • He stooped to be crucified!
  • He stooped to bear our sins in His Own body!
  • He stooped to die!
  • He stooped to be buried!

Three days later, Hallelujah, He stood up!

When He did, everything changed!

When He stooped and stood up, sin, death, Hell, Satan, and the grave were all defeated!

Praise the Lord! Our God is the God Who stoops, and then stands again!

  •  When Jesus stopped and stood up in the Temple, a woman was set free from sin and certain death.
  • When Jesus stooped to die and stood up three days later, He delivered His people from their sins!
  • I say, Hallelujah!

 

THE CRY OF LONELINESS | Christian Book Review

Christian Book StoresThe fourth word that Jesus uttered was a word of anguish of loneliness addressed to the Father. It is found in Matthew 27:46 – “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’”

Max Lucado gives the following account in his book titled No Wonder They Call Him Savior.

“The summer of 1980 in Miami was nothing to smile about. The Florida heat scorched the city during the day and baked it at night. Riots, lootings, and racial tension threatened to snap the frayed emotions of the people. Everything soared: unemployment, inflation, the crime rate, and especially the thermometer. Somewhere in the midst of it all, a Miami Herald reporter captured a story that left the entire Gold Coast breathless.

It was the story of Judith Bucknell. Attractive, young, successful, and dead.

Judith Bucknell was homicide number 106 that year. She was killed on a steamy June 9th evening. Age: 38. Weight: 109 pounds. Stabbed seven times. Strangled.

She kept a diary. Had she not kept this diary perhaps the memory of her would have been buried with her body. But the diary exists; a painful epitaph to a lonely life. The correspondent made this comment about her writings: ‘In her diaries, Judy created a character and a voice. The character is herself, wistful, struggling, weary; the voice is yearning. Judith Bucknell has failed to connect; age 38, many lovers, much love offered, none returned.’

Her struggles weren’t unusual. She worried about getting old, getting fat, getting married, getting pregnant, and getting by. She lived in stylish Coconut Grove (Coconut Grove is where you live if you are lonely but act happy).

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Judy was the paragon of the confused human being. Half of her life was fantasy, half was nightmare. Successful as a secretary, but a loser at love. Her diary was replete with entries such as the following:

‘Where are the men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food. . . . I would like to have in my life, once before I pass through my life, the kind of sexual relationship which is part of a loving relationship.’

She never did.

Judy was not a prostitute. She was not on drugs or on welfare. She never went to jail. She was not a social outcast. She was respectable. She jogged. She hosted parties. She wore designer clothes and had an apartment that overlooked the bay. And she was very lonely.

‘I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up.
What about me! What about me!’

Though surrounded by people, she was on an island. Though she had many acquaintances, she had few friends. Though she had many lovers (fifty-nine in fifty-six months), she had little love.

‘Who is going to love Judy Bucknell?’ the diary continues. ‘I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.’

A clear message came from her aching words. Though her body died on June 9th from the wounds of a knife, her heart had died long before. . . from loneliness.

‘I’m alone,’ she wrote, ‘and I want to share something with somebody.’”

The anguish of loneliness.

It is experienced by the abandoned child. The person who is divorced. The person in the nursing home. Maybe you experience it in the empty home. The empty mailbox. The long days. The longer nights. A one-night stand. A forgotten birthday. No personal emails – just junk and business.

Maybe you have been spared this cruel cry. Oh, you have been homesick or upset a time or two. But despair? Far from it. Suicide? Of course not. Be thankful that it hasn’t knocked at your door … yet. Pray that it never will.

But for many, loneliness is a way of life. The sleepless nights. The lonely bed. The distrust. The fear of tomorrow. The unending hurt. When did it begin? In your childhood? At the divorce? At retirement? At the cemetery? When the kids left home?

Maybe you, like Judy Bucknell, have fooled everyone. No one knows that you are lonely. On the outside you are packaged perfectly. Your smile is quick. Your job is stable. Your clothes are sharp. Your calendar is full. Your talk impressive. But when you look in the mirror, you don’t fool yourself.

Or maybe you don’t try to hide it. Maybe you have always been outside the circle looking in, and everyone knows it. Your conversation is a bit awkward. Your companionship is seldom requested. Your clothes are dull. Your looks are common. Ziggy is your hero and Charlie Brown is your mentor.

Am I striking a chord? If I am, if you sighed in understanding, I have an important message for you. The most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in history came not from a homicide victim or a prisoner or a widow or a patient. It came from a cross on a hill, from Jesus.

“My God, my God!” he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Never have words carried so much hurt. Never has anyone been so lonely.

Leviticus 16 is a passage of the Law of Atonement. It describes God’s Law to the Israelites of how to make an offering and sacrifice for the sins of the people. Remember, this is before Jesus comes to be our final sacrifice. It is complicated and ugly. In vs. 21 and 22, after much blood has been shed of animals in sacrifice, a live goat is taken. The high priest lays his hands upon the live goat and confesses the sins of all the people of Israel and transfers them to the head of the live goat. It is then sent away into the wilderness alone with all the sin upon itself. It is alone. It cannot be among the people. It is forsaken. It is cursed by God. The people would be
relieved. God would be appeased.

The temporary sacrifices described in Leviticus 16 are only a shadow of what was to come in Jesus. Hebrews teaches us that these sacrifices could not remove sins. They were only a lesson of what was to come – a lesson of our great need for forgiveness that Jesus alone provides.

Hebrews 10:1-4 – “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Hebrews 7:26-28 – “He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.”

And because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this result.

Hebrews 10:19-25– “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one
another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Because of the blood of Jesus – we can come boldly into the presence of God … in relationship. We are not alone. And we are commanded to be together as the body and not neglect that – not to live life alone but together.

We will never have to experience the greatest loneliness – eternal separation from God. But Jesus did. On the cross, a moment came when he was overwhelmed by the loneliness, being forsaken by the Father with whom he had experienced eternal closeness. He was separated from him. But for you and I he willingly endured this. He took all of our sin upon himself and God had to forsake him. He was the true, the only, the final sacrifice for our sin. He seemed to be able to take so much. He took the betrayal without complaint. He endured the trials 3without defending himself. He took so much beating and physical torture before he even came to the cross and was silent. He carried his own instrument of cruel death without complaint. He was crucified and still expressed his concern and care for others. But then something happened that he could not be silent about.

I want to go back to how Max Lucado describes this moment. “And now on Skull’s hill, the sinbearer is again 4191512_largealone. Every lie ever told, every object ever coveted, every promise ever broken is on his shoulders. He is sin. God turns away. The despair is darker than the sky. It is more than Jesus can take. He withstood the beatings and remained strong at the mock trials. He watched in silence as those he loved ran away. He did not retaliate when the insults were hurled nor did he scream when the nails pierced his wrists. But when God turned his head, that was more than he could handle.

‘My God!’

The wail rises from parched lips. The holy heart is broken. The sinbearer screams as he wanders in the cosmic wasteland. Out of the silent sky come the words screamed by all who walk in the desert of loneliness.

‘Why? Why have you forsaken me?’

Why did Jesus do it? Oh, I know, I know. I have heard the official answers. ‘To gratify the law.’ ‘To fulfill prophecy.’ And these answers are right. They are. But there is something more here. Something very compassionate. Something yearning. Something personal. What is it?

I may be wrong, but I keep thinking of the diary. ‘I feel abandoned,’ she wrote. ‘Who is going to love Judith Bucknell?’ And I keep thinking of the parents of the dead child. Or the friend at the hospital bedside. Or the elderly in the nursing home. Or the orphans. Or the cancer ward. I keep thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry, ‘Why?’

And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I imagine him holding out his nail-pierced hands showing that he who also was once alone, understands.”

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Study 2 of The Book of Joshua|She’s Not The Girl She Used To Be

downloadRead Joshua 2:1-24

And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

There once was a rather rough, uncultured man who for some reason fell in love with a beautiful vase in a shop window. Eventually he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. There it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would not do. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed. When you put Christ on the mantel of your heart, your whole life is transformed.

  • It is this kind of transformation we witness here in the second chapter of the book of Joshua.
  • As the Israelites were about to enter Canaan and claim their promised land, the first city they would have to face was the great walled city of Jericho.
  • If they could take this city, they could easily split the country in two and then move from there to conquer the north and the south.
  • Before they go about the business of defeating Jericho, Joshua sends spies to the city to gage the mood of the people and to see whether or not they were ready for war.
  • When these spies entered Jericho, they went to the home of a harlot. Why? Well, the sight of men entering a harlot’s home would not attract too much attention. Now would it?
  • What they found when they entered the home of Rahab must have come as quiet a shock to these two men. They found a woman who had been changed by the power of God. They met Rahab, but found out that she wasn’t the girl she used to be!

For us, Rahab is a picture of the power of the Lord Jesus to transform any life that comes to Him by faith.

What we will see today is how the Lord takes sinners who will place their faith in Him and changes them by His power and grace

RAHAB THE CALL GIRL

Verse 1 describes Her Spiritual Condition – Rahab was a harlot. Her’s was a depraved and wicked life. She is a picture of every person who is lost in sin this morning. You see, you may not be a harlot, but if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then you are lost in sin and need to be born again! It is sad but true, all are sinners

It also describes Her Spiritual Condemnation – She lived in a city that was slated for destruction! God had already determined that Jericho would fall! I’m sure the people felt pretty confident and reasonably safe behind the walls of their city, but God had already passed sentence upon them and they were doomed to destruction! The people of Jericho may not have felt that they were in great danger, but they were doomed nonetheless!

So it is with the sinner this morning! The lost person may feel secure today and may not believe that he is in any danger. However, the Bible tells us that the lost are condemned already, John 3:18

Then we see God’s Spiritual Compassion – Notice verse 10. Rahab tells the spies that they heard of what happened in Egypt and of the kings thy have defeated along the way. Well, it had been 40 years since they left Egypt. God had spared the city for that amount of time, and still they had several more days before judgment came to them. Rahab had experienced the grace and patience of God in giving her time to come to faith in Him.

Friend, how many years has the Lord given you? How many times has He knocked on your heart’s door? How many times has He called you to faith? You that are saved, how many times did the Lord call before you responded in faith.

RAHAB THE CONVERTED GIRL

Verse 10-11 She Heard The Word – Rahab heard about the God of Israel. It was a message of judgment that she heard, but it introduced her to the true and living God. The message that came was to her a message of life!

The message is the same today. That message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time

Verse 9-11 She Heeded The Word – Not only did Rahab hear the message, but she heeded it as well. This message produced a response of faith in the heart of Rahab. The fact that she believed the message is proven by what she says about God. In verse 9, she calls Him “the LORD”, using His covenant Name Jehovah. In verse 11, she expresses her faith in Him as THE God of Heaven and of earth. I verse 12, she again expresses her faith in Him as she calls God to witness the pact she is about to make with the spies. Even Heb. 11, the great Hall of the Faithful, in verse 31 tells us of the faith of Rahab. She heard the message and she acted on it in belief.

RAHAB THE COMPLETED GIRL

By the way, He has no respect of persons, therefore, what He did for Rahab, He can do for you. He used her in a mighty fashion. He can use you as well!)

Verse 12-22 The Proof Of Her Completion 

In Verse 1-7 She Labored For The Lord – One of the surest proofs that Rahab was genuinely converted is the fact that she involved herself with the work of the Lord. She hid the spies and covered up for them. We cannot condone her lie. Even James uses her as an example of the believer who proves their salvation by the works of their life, James 2:25.

My friends, we can like it or not, but the truth of our profession is proven by the work of our life, James 2:18! You see, we can say anything we like, but what we really are is proven by what we do! The fruit of your life proves the root of your life – Matt. 7:20

She also Loved The Lost – Notice that Rahab is concerned about others in her family who are in danger as well.

The Payoff Of Her Completion – Because she placed her faith in the Lord God of Israel, she obtained some precious possessions. Notice how God took this former harlot and blessed her new life with the richest of His blessings. She Found A New Family – She went from being part of judged nation to being part of a holy nation! She Found A New Family – Rahab was taken from the house of shame and wound up in the hall of fame. This woman became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, she was David’s great-great grandmother and she was the mother-in-law of Ruth. Josh. 6:20-25 She Found A New Freedom – Because of her faith she was spared from the destruction that overtook her city. By the way, all those in her house were spared as well! When the walls of Jericho fell down flat, there was apparently one section that remained standing. It was the section that held the house of Rahab. It was a place that was marked by a scarlet rope that hung from her window, v. 18.

What a picture is given here. And, just as Rahab’s home was marked by a scarlet rope, v. 18 so our life is recognized by God because of the blood of Jesus that has been applied to our souls by faith. That rope told Israel that Rahab believed God and was to live. The blood of Jesus tells the Father that we have trusted His Son and that we, too, are to be spared! Folks, it is the blood that makes the difference! I Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5.)

It was the blood of a lamb that spared the firstborn in Egypt when the death angel passed through the land. It is the blood of Jesus that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell for each of us this morning!)

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