I am currently delving into a deeper understanding of the true meaning of the cross of Christ, how it relates to salvation and how it reveals God's heart.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Giving Gifts to the Needy

They told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?" They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of.
But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.
They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more." Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:4-12)

Accusing is counterfeit judging.
Accusing is condemning.
Accusing is the spirit of looking for faults in order to assign blame.
Whoever ends up with the blame, according to the reward/punishment system, must be punished.
Living according to the reward/punishment way is living under the law.
Living under the law is living according to the flesh, where everyone is valued according to how closely they conform to the ideal of the law – relative value for everyone and everything – commerce.
This commercial spirit dictates that we must figure out the relative value of each one according to the law of reward and punishment so that order and unity can be maintained through hierarchal authority.

Accusing/condemning then is the means by which we think to maintain law and order in society. It relies on fear of punishment as the primary means by which to everyone in line with the law. Because of this invested belief in law and punishment, we find it nearly impossible to accept that there could be any other way to hold society together, and we insist God must do so similarly.

This is our system of fear-based social order. We rely on fear as one of the main incentives to keep people from sinning, and when anyone does sin we believe it is a moral duty to find someone to blame for that debt who should receive punishment. Then we must cooperate with authorities designated by God to carry out due punishment. This is what is happening in this story – blame, shame and threat of severe punishment against the person whose sin has imbalanced the scales of justice.

The problem, of course, with this view of how life is to operate is that it neglects the value of the heart. Even more, it ignores or denies the entire meaning of value according to God's design. Our ideas of relative value for people and performance is entirely an artificial notion of value that disregards God's original design for us to live from our heart in freedom, love and trust. The counterfeit way is reward and punishment which is designed to crush the heart and dismember it so we cannot thrive as designed. Thus Satan effectively distorts God's intended reflection of glory from our heart by obsessing over things of lesser importance while ignoring the truly valuable things.

The Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness. You foolish ones, didn't he who made the outside make the inside also? But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and the love of God. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like hidden graves, and the men who walk over them don't know it." (Luke 11:39-44)

Why didn't God send His Son into the world to condemn the world? Because saving the world will never be accomplished by participating in the very thing destroying our hearts. This idea of attempting to overcome evil with evil is doomed to miserable failure, and God will never participate in trying to do what will never work.

Evil can only be overcome with good; darkness can only be eliminated using light.
There are no other possible ways.

What we need to repent of is not just sins we have committed, but far more importantly THE SIN which is our entire way of thinking we have been immersed in all our lives. This primary sin is the twisted thinking infecting all of us after our first parents ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil inducing in all of us a serious case of double-mindedness ever since.

Jesus came to defeat and conquer this double-minded sickness by reintroducing into the human genome the original design of single-mindedness, the saving principle of agape love. Nothing else can ever come close to resolving the problem of evil because anything other than pure love is evil.

The heart was made for love and is damaged and malfunctions when it fails to receive and pass on love effectively. Did you notice the phrase in that last passage that speaks volumes about this issue? But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you.

Who are the needy Jesus is talking about here? Is it people who don't have enough money to support themselves? Is that what He is telling the Pharisees? I don't think so. Rather, Jesus is putting His finger on the core issue of sin, ignoring of the heart to prefer keeping up appearances and imagining that this will somehow impress God with how pious and holy we are so He will bless us. So we measure our relative value by comparing ourselves with people we imagine are worse than us so we can feel good about our relative righteousness and convince ourselves that God plays this game along with us.

No, the needy that Jesus was referring to are represented by the woman in this story who these Pharisees considered a terrible sinner deserving to be punished. They believed it was their God-appointed duty as the religious authorities to assign blame and execute justice lest God be displeased with them for not carrying out their duties and would then punish them in turn. In other words, this line of religious reasoning leads us to imagine that if we don't point out other people's faults and do our part to maintain law and order in the church, in society, the family or wherever we have responsibility, then God will punish us for not carrying out our duty.

This way of living with others is primarily based on fear – fear aroused by the belief that God will ultimately punish anyone who doesn't do their part in enforcing justice, albeit our kind of justice that is rooted in the thinking of debts and credits, reward and punishments, earning and deserving. Yet all the while our hearts are shriveling up and starving for lack of love, grace and freedom. Yet from our perspective those are secondary issues that may be enjoyed only after justice has been satisfied.

So what constitutes being needy according to Jesus? Well, to start with He indicates that the need is within, not a need in the external arena. This should alert us that what He has in mind is the condition of our heart rather than some external value assigned to us relative on how well we keep the rules. What I also see here is that if I am starved internally – needy myself – then it will be impossible for me to give to others who are needy internally. That makes sense even if it is intellectual. I can't give what I have not received. Yet the catch is that if I am unwilling to give I also block myself from receiving.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don't forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Is this a threat or is it a principle? I believe it is like expecting a garden hose to deliver water while it is not receiving water from a source at the other end. I can demand all I want that the hose deliver water to me, but the best I will be able to get from it is any residual water left in the hose from the last time it was used. If I expect to get more than that, then hose is going to have to be connected to a good source of water itself before it will be able to give water out the other end.

Yet the converse of this is equally true as well. If the hose has a nozzle on the end, it may be hooked up to a good source of supply all it wants, yet until the nozzle is opened to release water out the other end it will be impossible for that hose to receive any more water than what is inside it already.

So really there are two ways in which we can malfunction according to this illustration. We can try to give and give until we collapse in emotional and spiritual exhaustion and then blame God that it simply does not work. Yet the problem may be that we are trying to give something we are failing to receive because we are not remaining connected to the unlimited supply of grace and love available to us at the heart level. Or we may be living in a glut of blessings from God but are so blinded by unbelief in His goodness that we fail to realize how rich we already are and consequently live in judgment over others because they don't measure up to where we imagine we are on the scale of moral worth. Thus we plug the outlet blocking us from receiving more from God. Over time the water already in the hose then stagnates and can become putrid and toxic.

So, how does Jesus defeat accusers? Does He accuse them, pointing out their faults by writing them on the pavement to humiliate and intimidate them until they slink away in shame? This would be overcoming evil with evil, but that never works in the long run, for Jesus knew that condemnation never achieves the kind of righteousness we need that restores us. Jesus loved these Pharisees just as much as He loved this woman, and He was not infected with the commercial way of viewing people like we are. By keeping Himself in constant communion with heaven, He saw every person He came in contact with as God's well-beloved child. That includes you and me by the way.

No, Jesus did not defeat accusers by counter-accusations. Rather He brought light to where darkness was and the light itself induced God's kind of judgment which is very different from our notions about justice. The light of love caused these men to choose whether to let love soften and change them or leave in fear of exposure by that love. They chose to leave because they loved darkness more than light and they feared their deeds would be exposed if they remained in the light just as Jesus said would happen in judgment. This is always how God defeats accusers – simply by loving without reservation and allowing each one to choose how they will relate to the love ever coming from His heart.

But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you.

What gift comes from within the heart of God?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

This by the way, comes just before Jesus explains how true judgment occurs just a couple verses later.

What was sent to us within the Son who came to become one with us?

For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. (John 1:17-18)

Do you see it? The gift from within God, the gift sent from the very bosom of the Father, was the embodiment of pure, unconditional love, acceptance, grace and the truth that God loves everyone without exception or reservation. That gift never has the slightest condemnation, for our sin problem is not that God is upset with us as we have so long imagined, but that we are afraid of Him and as a result are starved of love on the inside. The gift provided to each of us who are needy comes from the bosom of the Father in the person of Jesus who is love. This love in Jesus is tightly connected to the Father's heart and pours love relentlessly into the heart of anyone willing to open up their heart to receive it.

Do you feel needy of heart right now? Do you feel any need at all, or has fear so damaged the soul that we find it difficult to admit that you are starving for love?

Just a few chapters later we find another story possibly involving this same woman according to some. Clearly she experienced a dramatic transformation of heart from the love shown her by Jesus, and her passion to find some way of returning some of that love compelled her to do something she knew would make her vulnerable in front of those who could not see what was inside her. When Jesus not only freely accepted her public expression of affection but also defended her against those who tried to shame her, laying a guilt trip on Jesus at the same time, He shared a principle with them that is vitally important to appreciate when it comes to living from our heart.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Those who sat at the table with him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." (Luke 7:47-50)

It is the law of proportion, a principle counterfeited in our false system through relative rewards or punishments figured on the degree of merit or offense. The law of proportion can also be seen in the analogy of the garden hose, for to the degree I open myself up to receive love, I am able to pass love along, and that is how much love I will experience myself.

For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)

He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear. For whoever has, to him will more be given, and he who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away from him." (Mark 4:24-25)


Don't judge, and you won't be judged. Don't condemn, and you won't be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:37-38)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Who Leads Who?

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the midst, they told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?" (John 8:3-5)

Before we rush to judgment, we must realize that these scribes and Pharisees were men who had committed their entire lives to seek to please God and live a life of perfect harmony with God's commandments. They believed that sinners were offensive and could not be tolerated by a holy God. They also longed to witness the power of God unleashed in their world. Their life passion was to bring as many as possible into conformance to the laws of Yahweh so as to secure His favor for their nation. And really, how much difference is there between their desires and what we see today among those who long to see the kingdom of God established in our world just as they did?

It can be easy for us to make negative assumptions about scribes and Pharisees, partly because of all the bad press they got from Jesus, yet truly they had very similar goals as many religious people have today. They earnestly wanted to see God's kingdom set up on earth and to have God's authority recognized and submitted to by God's chosen people around them so that evil could be curbed and so that the world would be a safer place for good people to thrive and flourish.

What were the underlying motives of these men who arraigned this sinner woman before Christ, demanding that He pass sentence on her? We often fail to look past our disgust at their insensitivity and callous disregard for her feelings or plight, yet in doing so we may well be found to be passing judgment on the scribes and Pharisees just as they were passing judgment on this woman.

Were not these men zealous for the sacredness of God's law? Were not they concerned that the ways in which Jesus appeared to be relating to the laws given them by Moses were a dangerous threat undermining respect and fear due to God? We tend to imagine sinister motives in the minds of these men without noting their real concerns. They were simply carrying out the same mission that many of God's leaders and prophets had done for thousands of years, seeking to defend truth against the inroads of lax morals and compromise that undermined the fear of the Lord they believed necessary in order to be honored by God as His chosen people on earth.

From our perspective two thousand years later, we have difficulty appreciating their side of this story, lost sight of in part by the way these stories are written about them. While it is true they had selfish motives and misunderstood the love of God in their fervor to uphold the laws of Moses, what we read are stories written from a perspective strikingly different than how most everyone perceived things at the time. Even the disciples who wrote these gospels had not yet seen the truth about God's character when these events took place. It was not until much later that the light brought to our world by Jesus gave them a startling new view of what was really going on, and that is when they shared these stories with us through their writings. But at the time these things took place it is very likely the minds of the disciples were just as confused about the mission of Jesus as were many others, because the questions and doubts constantly circulated by the religious teachers of the law raised serious concerns that what Jesus stood for could not possibly be reconciled with the truth as taught by Moses and the prophets.

What we see in the lives of Jesus' disciples as they watched Him interact with God's 'chosen people' on earth was the same tension that many of us feel when we attempt to see how God relates to law. The arguments have not abated since then but have changed in focus. Yet we retain similar confusion as to the methods God chooses to overcome evil just as did people in the days when Jesus walked this earth. There is no shortage of questions, doubts and confusion today over how to explain stories such as this, because it still seems clear to us that in order for God to overcome evil in this world, something more substantial than simply dismissing crimes is needed. Without infliction of serious consequences and punishment there will not be enough fear generated to prevent people from continuing to sin.

A fresh heresy Satan brought in to counter the truth as revealed in Jesus is that God had to punish Jesus for our sins so He could forgive those who come to Him in repentance and claim the blood of Jesus to cover their sins. This subtle lie is deeply embedded in general theology, yet it neutralizes the real power of the cross because it fails to challenge our beliefs about how God relates to sin. Because we cling to similar notions about how sin must be overcome as did these pious religious experts of old, we too become entangled in confusion because the very remedy provided by God to cure us from sin is misrepresented as being something entirely different from the truth. In this view, salvation fails to address the deeper issue of how we perceive the true nature of the problem with sin. Because of this, in diagnosing problem of sin incorrectly we fail to recognize the only effective solution, even if it is right in front of us. In fact, misdiagnosing sin and God's solution can lead us to imagine that the effective cure for sin brought to us by Jesus may appear to be part of the problem to be solved so long as we refuse to appreciate the true nature of sin and the function of law.

The true religion of Jesus can be just as much a threat today as it was to the religious leaders in Jesus' time. We may think we are different from the religious zealots of His day because we think we don't have the same prejudice they had. Yet the deceptiveness of religion seduces us into a sense of false security, for any time we imagine that God must be appeased to have His mind changed in the least relating to His disposition towards us, we have misdiagnosed the core problem of sin. Salvation is not about changing God's mind but all about changing ours.

One of the most subtle falsehoods inherent in every world religion is the belief that some way must be found to influence and alter God's disposition towards us. Many insist that one must repent and ask for forgiveness before God will accept and save us. Yet repentance simply means to change the way we think about something or someone. When we imagine that sin causes God to gets angry at people who break His commands and is compelled to punish them, we will consequently assume we then have to find some way to change His disposition towards us in order to get on His good side so we can have life instead of receiving our due punishment of death by execution (or worse yet punishment in non-death by being tortured endlessly in fiery flames of hell for eternity).

The scribes and Pharisees who brought this woman caught in the very act of sinning before Jesus were pressuring Him to conform to their views of how God keeps order by enforcing His laws. Like most of us today, they believed that unless laws are enforced there is little incentive for sinners to avoid sinning and chaos will ensue. Thus in their minds, the teachings and practices of Jesus in relation to sin and sinners created a very dangerous attitude toward law and order that if allowed to infect the minds of people would have a sure result of destroying social order and effective authority based largely on fear of punishment. Without sufficient fear of punishment, they believed it would be impossible for God or anyone else to prevent the chaos of rampant evil from overrunning society. Thus by insisting that Jesus make a clear choice to enforce law in a simple case from the law of Moses, they could clarify publicly where He stood in relation to God and law-enforcement.

Before we write off the scribes and Pharisees as merely hypocrites, we need to consider how their thinking is very similar to our own perceptions. While they may have been extreme examples of self-righteous bigotry and rigid legalists, in condemning them we may be discovered to be doing the very same thing as they were doing.

Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4)

Notice something very interesting that suddenly shows up if we reword this last sentence just a bit.

The goodness of righteous people can lead God to change His mind (repent) concerning them.

Is this not the subtle presumption of most religions? To put it very bluntly, what many assume is that we are supposed to acquire enough goodness in ourselves that we can lead God to repentance, to get Him to change His mind about us so we can avert His threats of punishment. Simultaneously we resist suggestions that what is really needed is a change in our mind about God and the way He sees us. Yet because of our fear of judgment and punishment, we imagine that while God does have a disposition of kindness towards sinners, at some point He will change and execute 'justice.' Therefore we must find some way to placate His agitation before then to make Him safe for us to live in His presence.

Do you see the problem in all this? The focus is more on changing God's mind than changing our thinking about Him. Every false religion including most of Christianity, focuses on how to effectively change God's disposition towards us so we can become acceptable to Him. Only the religion of Christ clarifies that the problem of sin is entirely a result of false perceptions we have about God that make us afraid of Him and thus filled with resistance to the life-giving love He longs for us to enjoy.

So long as we worship a god who demands perfect obedience before he is willing to accept and love us, we worship a false god – pure and simple. Yet the very fact that such a statement can elicit a strong reaction inside some of us, a protest that somehow obedience must be present in order to be accepted by God, only belies the fact that a key element is missing in our understanding of the gospel. This story confronts this very thinking in a dramatic way, for there is hardly a more explicit example of the contrast between love and law that can be found anywhere.

It is easy to imagine that we need to change God's mind about us by carrying out the demands of His laws, be it the laws through Moses or other moral laws we attribute directly to God. Based on our premise that God's laws must be enforced or they are powerless, we assume that God's disposition towards us is darkened by our transgressions of His laws. Furthermore, we often assume we must help God get other people to stop sinning as well so we can earn His favor to be restored to our country, our church or whatever group we believe God supports. This is readily seen in the popularity of much of what we see going on around us today in politics and religion. Yet it is all predicated on unchallenged assumptions about how God relates to law-enforcement and sin.

We must come to see more clearly the fundamental flaw in this thinking. John writes that God is love and that God is light with no darkness at all in Him (1 John 4:8,16; 1:5). Here we find the key shift that needs to take place in our perspective – that the problem of sin has nothing to do with changing God's attitude towards us in any way. Rather, the entire problem of sin is rooted in the way we perceive how God feels about and relates to us. Believing lies about how God feels about us lies at the very root of all sin, for sin is distrust of God from lies believed resulting in malfunction in the life. This is precisely what Paul is exposing throughout this entire passage spanning several chapters at the beginning of Romans. Paul is saying that whether we malfunction as open rebels and sensational sinners, or whether we choose the route of piety and striving to maintain a holy, upright life to change God and be accepted by Him, we are all caught in the very same trap and both classes are in danger of missing salvation entirely, even while we feel secure we are on the inside with God and have our ticket to heaven.

In this story from the life of Jesus we find these two categories clearly represented. The woman caught in adultery can easily be identified in the list of open, lurid sins in the last half of Romans chapter 1. In contrast, the men who zealously arraigned her before Jesus to be judged according to the law represent the kind of pious people Paul addressed at the beginning of chapter 2. Yet Paul explicitly says that such religious piety is in fact no different in its core cause than the open sinners they feel compelled to expose and condemn, for in actuality we are all malfunctioning for the same reason, and until we come to acknowledge that we remain blind to our true desperate condition of lostness.

do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Imagining that God is upset with sinners while favorable toward good people is a symptom of mistaken beliefs about how God thinks. This is because we base our logic on false presumptions about what constitutes justice and the very nature of sin itself. So long as we insist that sin is primarily about rule-breaking and that justice demands punishment of sin before God's law can be satisfied, we remain immersed in the mindset inherited from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and cannot see the truth as it is in Jesus who represents the Tree of Life. And so long as we maintain this distorted view of how God relates to sin and sinners we will imagine that His mind must be swayed in some way to be led from anger to favor and will insist that justice involves imposed punishments and rewards.

This is what underlies our faulty thinking that someone else's righteousness can lead God to repentance instead of the other way around. Misapprehensions about sin and about God cause us to live in fear rather than in His love. But fear has to do with punishment and prevents true love from being perfected in our heart because we are clinging to lies that inhibit us from resting in the pure love of the Godhead.

We must come to see the fallacy of imagining we have to lead God to repent of His wrath towards us because of our sins and be converted to repent of our own twisted thinking that makes us continue in this line of dangerous illogic. No amount of perfect law-keeping on anyone's part – including the perfect righteousness of Jesus as our substitute – can have any affect on changing God's mind towards us, for that completely misses the original problem of sin involving distrust of God's heart. God is never the one who needs to repent but rather sinners – bad sinners and good ones alike – need to repent of all the suspicions, slander and lies circulating about Him and most often promoted by religion.

Will we be willing to repent of trying every way possible to get God to repent? It will do no good, but rather is a dangerous distraction, to try to lead God into changing His mind about us by impressing Him with our righteous law-keeping. That is not the truth about salvation for it misses the real point of the original problem, and worse yet it prevents us from seeing our own desperate condition, fooling us into imagining that we are more secure than we really are in heaven's eyes.

What is most needed is a massive shift in our foundational perceptions about the real nature of our problem with sin and how God views us. God is not antagonistic toward sinners because God is nothing other than pure love. This does not mean He never gets angry or hurt, but it does mean He never takes offense, something most people have difficulty accepting. Because God never takes offense there is never anything for which He needs to change His thinking, for God cannot be changed by anything we do, say or feel that could ever in the slightest way lessen His passionate desire for us to be reunited into the deepest intimacy of love with His heart.

This is a vital perspective we need to rediscover in this story, for unless we begin to catch a glimpse of the true methods of God and His heart of passionate love for abusers as well as for victims, we continue to be blind to the true nature of our problem and will rely on vain methods to be reconciled with God.

We must see in this story that Jesus was just as passionate to win the heart and mind of each scribe and Pharisee involved in this episode as He was to save the life and soul of this woman entrapped by these evil men intent on killing her to vent their animosity toward Jesus through law-enforcement. We may find it difficult to feel sympathy for legalistic, hateful bigots, yet God sees the damage that sin has caused in every one of His children. Yet even so, in no way is His heart altered in His desire to heal them just as much as He desires to rescue the victims of their exploitation and dark views of justice.

What we find in this story is a confrontation between the power of the kindness of God in contrast to the false notion of commerce-based religion where God must be paid off in order to get Him to change His thinking. Anything involving earning and deserving anything from God involves commerce morality and originates from the kingdom of darkness. Heaven does not operate on the principles of commerce with debts and credits and keeping score. Heaven is all about life and relationships and restoring everyone possible back into pristine relationships of mutual love and joy. And while not everyone will be willing to embrace that way of life, it is the only way that that can restore true harmony and peace to the universe as it once enjoyed before the beginning of the rebellion.

So what is the core cause of sin that must be addressed for sinners of both types in order to be restored into harmony with the mind and heart of God? The core issues are found both in Romans 1 and 2.

For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. For in it is revealed God's righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith."
(Romans 1:16-17)

Paul is keen to point out that the true good news has inherent power within it to salvage us, and that good news is about God's righteousness that can be fully trusted. That is the short version. Jesus came to explicitly reveal this amazingly good news about God, and when we truly embrace Jesus' version of God it seems almost too good to be true.

What follows this verse is part of the core cause that obscures the good news that God is nothing but good. As we continue to cling to lies we hold about God, we eventually force God to respect our choice to repel His love and we reject His protection over our lives. If we destroy all our capacity to respond to love through repeated rejections of His overtures to draw out our affections, we can lose all capacity to appreciate His affection for us until we finally damage our heart so thoroughly it becomes irrevocably hardened and makes it impossible to change/repent. Throughout this process God is has to sadly withdraw His protection from us resulting in increasingly ill-effects from our wrong choices because we are released to deeper and deeper levels of darkness and dysfunction. Whether this result of sinful living comes out as open rebellion and gross immorality, or whether it expresses itself as pious self-righteousness in vain attempts to impress God, either way the root cause is the same – exchanging the truth about God for lies that harden unbelief and distort our ways of perceiving Him.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.
(Romans 1:18-23)

Whether we experience the symptoms of the disease of sin in the forms described later in chapter 1 or as described in chapter 2, the root cause is the same: the real truth about God is suppressed by false notions about His righteousness. In promoting false ideas about what true righteous is, we dishonor God's reputation and rob Him of His glory. Believing dark views of God also results in lack of appreciation and gratitude to Him as we become fools by making God out to be like us or worse.

Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God; (Romans 2:3-5)

We find here the core of the problem that was addressed previously, the specific things we reject about God in exchange for the lies in religion that mingles good and evil in our ideas of how God feels towards us. So long as we discredit or cast doubt in the slightest on the true riches of God's goodness, self-restraint and patience, we mingle darkness with light and create fear in place of love.

The woman caught in adultery was living a life full of fear and shame, not knowing the truth about God's real disposition of pure love towards her. Because the truth of God had been exchanged for lies that produced fear of punishment along with feelings of shame and worthlessness, she was easily exploited by religious men who themselves had also exchanged the truth of God for lies, whether or not they were the very same lies as were hers. Both sides lived in fear, believing that God needed to have His mind changed in some way before things could get better in their lives.

These pious men who felt compelled to enforce the laws given through Moses designed to keep law and order in society were caught in the very same mindset as the woman they were condemning, for in despising the riches of the goodness, forbearance and patience of Jesus with sinners, He was being ungodly and needed to be exposed as a fraud as they believed Him to be. Because He did not share their stern views of God as one who must condemn sinners and reward good people, they viewed Jesus as a huge threat to the established system of law and order. Jesus' teachings and methods threatened to undermine the very authority of the God they believed had to have firm control. Because they exchanged the truth of God for lies about Him, they failed to appreciate the truth that Jesus was bringing to them and they hated Him for refusing to endorse their teachings and enforce their laws.

Whether we feel disdain towards someone guilty of adultery or towards religious prigs eager to harshly punish a victim of sin, our own penchant to judge anyone in this story exposes the fact that we too to some extent have exchanged truth about God for lies that may seem on the surface to be obviously true. Yet these very lies that cause us to imagine we need to lead God to change His mind about us blind us to realizing that it is our thinking alone that needs a radical change in how we perceive God rather than His mind that needs to be changed about us.

But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Determined religious defenders of law here demand that God in human flesh take a stern accounting of a woman's trespass against a law they believed God gave originally. Yet they utterly failed to see that they were equally guilty from heaven's perspective of distorting the truth about God's character and disposition towards sinners. By demanding punishment for sin they imagined they were only doing what they believed God expects. Yet in reality they had exchanged the truth of God's love for the lie that justice demands punishment for every sin. Jesus longed to open their minds and win their hearts just as much as He sought to protect the woman caught in sin and also restore her to true love. If these men had accepted the kindness Jesus offered in the way He dealt with their sins, they could have repented and received life directly from the Source just as the woman found deliverance.

Only the truth about the goodness of God has power to change lives and transform a character to prepare one to thrive in the presence of God's intense purity and love. We must renounce every lie we have inherited or embraced that displaces the truth about God in our heart until we are fully restored to the freedom and fulness of joy for which we were created. The more clearly we see the true goodness of God, the more stunning it appears until it can almost be scandalous to our normal way of thinking. Yet the revelation of truth as it is in Jesus is the real gospel that has the power to save in such a way that we may be fully rescued from the slavery of darkness and fear in which we have lived all our lives.


But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Who is Without Sin

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn't open his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn't open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the disobedience of my people to whom the stroke was due? They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:5-9)

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the midst, they told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?" They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of.
But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger as though he did not hear. But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more." (John 8:3-11)

What did Jesus write on the dust of the temple floor? Was it the sins of each man there causing them to feel condemned and afraid of being exposed as so many people like to imagine?

[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, [love] keeps no record of wrongs.
(1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17 NRSV)

How does God deal with sin? That is really one of the core issues at stake in not only this chapter, but in the entire war between good and evil. What is the effective way of dealing with sin and rebellion? Our beliefs about this affect how we view God and how we relate to those we believe are wrong.

Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. (Romans 2:1-2)

Were not these religious leaders intent on judging this woman as a sinner deserving of punishment? But what kind of judgment were they using? Was it not the spirit of accusation and condemnation? Jesus came that all the world might be saved through Him, not to condemn. Their chief desire was like that of the devil, to accuse, shame, humiliate, to steal, kill and destroy as Jesus put it. This was the sin that made them just as guilty as the woman they wanted Jesus to condemn.

Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God; (Romans 2:4-5)

Judging and condemning people has never induced real righteousness in anyone. It is however, quite effective in producing such fruit as depression, despair, desperation, addictions and recidivism. I believe this is why God refused to allow Lucifer to integrate his proposed ideas of reform into God's government, for any element of fear, force or compulsion destroys capacity to respond to or thrive in agape love. God's kingdom is free of all condemning, accusation, pride and shame.

The issue of how to effectively achieve and maintain an orderly society free of harm lies at the very root of the contest over allegiance as to whose methods we will embrace and with which system we will identify. Jesus confronted head-on Satan's false system of obedience through intimidation relying on reward and punishment. In essence, the Tree of Life had returned to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to reconnect with God's children lost in lies that infected our thinking from exposure to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Love came to not only confront, but to expose and displace the methods, disposition and lies about how reality is designed for God's original purpose.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)

God methods and approach never rely on condemning or guilting people into compliance to His will, for that only damages the delicate fabric of the heart. God's design as revealed in Jesus relies only on methods of kindness, goodness and love. While it is true that He often needs to give warnings of what will happen if we continue in evil, God is never the direct source of the ill effects of evil that come into our lives. God never resorts to using Satan's methods of compulsion or fear, because love alone will be to overcome all evil through attraction of goodness and mercy alone.

I took them by his arms; but they didn't know that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with ties of love; and I was to them like those who lift up the yoke on their necks; and I bent down to him and I fed him. (Hosea 11:3-4)

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all [people] to myself. (John 12:32)

This Jesus who wrote in the dust with His finger things so effective that powerful men slunk away for fear of being exposed, was the very same one who centuries earlier used His finger to write on tablets of stone the very law these mere humans now demanded He enforce without mercy against a fellow sinner. And that original law was shorthand for the love designed for the universe to function properly.

He gave to Moses, when he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets, written with God's finger. (Exodus 31:18)

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: (Jeremiah 31:33)

Notice that Jesus actually invited these men to carry out their plan to execute this woman on the spot, so long as they complied with His precondition. Was this something He just made up as a way to prevent Himself from getting ensnared in their jealous plan to discredit Him? Or was it an amplification of a principle that can be found even in Old Testament Scripture but was not yet clear?

I believe it is safe to assume that what these self-righteous men had in mind was not merely law-enforcement for the improvement of society, it was the spirit of vengeance. It would be well then to examine carefully the true meaning of vengeance to discover the difference between how God takes vengeance in contrast to what we usually have in mind when we seek revenge.

Some might assume there is a significant difference between revenge and vengeance, so consider the dictionary definition for these two words that I find reasonably accurate in this case.

Revenge: (1) to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, especially in a resentful or vindictive spirit: (2) to take vengeance for; inflict punishment for; avenge.

Vengeance: infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by another who has been harmed by that person; violent revenge.

These are directly in harmony with the spirit of commerce which is all about earning rewards or deserving punishments. Both of these definitions describe the attitude and intentions of these men who brought this woman to corner Jesus. If He agreed with their harsh view of justice He would be contradicting His own teachings. Yet if He refused to go along with their plan to condemn her, they believed He would discredit Himself by 'breaking the law' and its plain demand for capital punishment.

They demanded from Jesus a judgment against a woman caught red-handed committing adultery. To honor the law of Moses (and given from God from their perspective) meant Jesus would have to execute the clear mandate of that law by exacting punishment by stoning for this woman. Anything short of this, they believed, would make it unavoidably clear that He was not a true teacher from God as He claimed to be and thus undermine His growing influence among the masses.

Yet Jesus, rather than entering into a debate over the nuances of the laws of Moses, gave them an answer that appeared to agree with their intent to carry out the law's demand. This must have struck terror to the heart of this woman cowering on the pavement as she heard these words of Jesus. She may have been hoping Jesus might find challenge the way in which her case had been misrepresented to Him, but instead she heard Him seem to agree with her accusers. This likely would have led her to feel abandoned and helpless. At that point she may have given up all hope and simply braced herself for the first sharp pains of rocks striking her body until she would finally lose her life to the callous fury of vicious religious bigots using her as a pawn in their rabid desire to attack Jesus.

It is important to know that from the perspective of the watching crowd, these religious men were the closest to being righteous, pious and sinless as anyone could possibly come. It was the stated goal of these men to achieve perfection, and they spared no pains or expense to strive for sinless perfection every day. In fact it was a popular belief that if they could just get enough people to live sinlessly for one day, then God would reward them by sending the promised Messiah to deliver them from their oppressors and make their nation great again like it was in the glory days of Solomon. This was the national obsession of the Jews and especially of the religious elite. Now it appeared that Jesus was offering an even less strenuous goal by consenting that only one sinless person was needed from these professionally righteous men for this woman's execution to be carried out without hesitation.

The Mosaic law required that the witnesses who brought about the conviction of a person were to be the first to cast the stones of punishment to execute them. That implied that if the primary witnesses were unwilling to carry out that grisly task, the execution could not take place at all.

Yet we must be cautious in trying to analyze the legal angles of this story as it is all too easy to be drawn into arguing the technical aspects this case or the guilt of the men involved. In doing so we also may be sucked into the very trap these men had set for Jesus. He refused to argue points of law with men who were experts of the law but rather used this opportunity to lead everyone to look beyond the law to a much higher perspective, where relationships are more important that legal infractions. Until we appreciate this change of focus we might muck around in vain attempts to figure out what Jesus was saying and still remain trapped in thinking that striving to keep the law is equal to service from love.

How do we imagine Jesus defined sin when He invited any sinless man to cast the first stone? And were His words on the pavement an accounting of their sins as a deterrent to prevent their carrying out the execution while yet giving them permission to execute their plans? Was Jesus thinking sinlessness as merely keeping the written laws of God, or was there something far deeper that could not be avoided by men whose conscience condemned them as they left one by one?

This brings up another troublesome point. If we take this story at face value it could be construed by some that no one has a right to point out anyone else's sins until they themselves are completely sinless. This seems attractive to those who resent anyone approaching them about their life of sin, but is this what Jesus was saying here? Was He suggesting that when we finally get our act together enough to declare we are without fault, we are then free to execute vengeance on others? Much more to the point, is this what we think about God – that because God is without sin, then He is qualified and eager to unleash harsh punishment on all who refuse to repent and turn away from their sins?

What is important here is that in fact there was a man right there who was without sin. Jesus was the first and only human being to ever live on this earth without sin, so according to the instructions of Jesus Himself, He should be the first to lead out in stoning this woman. We know the outcome of this story and we know Jesus was not like that but was in fact just the opposite. So in suggesting that a perfect person can execute condemnation, we are saying that God will execute sinners in the end while Jesus was unwilling to do so in this situation, thus making a distinction between Father and Son.

If Jesus was the explicit revelation of God and the only reliable witness for declaring the truth about God to all created beings, then it is impossible to cling to the discrepancies in popular beliefs that make God out to be an enforcer of punishments while Jesus is all about forgiveness, kindness and humility. The grace and truth that came through Christ is grace and truth that comes through Him from the Father, not in opposition to or neutralizing the Father's 'justice' (that looks suspiciously more like our version of justice). Either Jesus represents the Father or He doesn't; it cannot be both ways.

In this story we see that the only man present without sin was acting like God, the true God rather than the stern, harsh god that religious men had made Him out to be. This truth about God that Jesus revealed in this arbitrary scene of judgment was the God full of compassion, grace and love that contradicted everything the religious leaders claimed about Him in their reading of the law.

How was it that the Son of God aroused such conviction in the hearts of callous men claiming to represent God, yet without writing out their sins as we often imagine He did? I believe it is because the light of truth does not dwell on the darkness of sin in order to expose it, for that light is inherently divisive by nature. What I mean is that it is not necessary for us to figure out who is right or wrong or who has the best arguments or the greatest weight of evidence proving their case so as to know what is good. What is most important far transcends rule-keeping and is so potent that it needs no proving to be effective. The light of love flowing from the heart of God produces an atmosphere of true judgment based on the definition given by Jesus, and it was this true judgment that neutralized the spiteful form of judgment these men thought to bring on this woman as well as to Jesus.

This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. (John 3:19-20)

These accusers slunk away, not because the woman was not guilty as charged, but also not because Jesus was accusing them in His writings on the pavement. Rather, the light of love that ever flows through Jesus from the true God of heaven became so uncomfortable that they could no longer stand to remain in His presence without either repenting and being won over by His love, or running back into darkness because they preferred dark legal living rather than resting in the light God's love for them.

All we like sheep have gone astray; everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:6,9)


In this arranged judgment scene, Jesus chose the nonviolent option. But in doing so He drew the fury of these religious zealots to Himself which will be seen in the rest of this chapter. That is why this story is really a microcosm of the entire plan of salvation as seen in Isaiah 53, for by diverting the consequences of our sins onto Himself, He substituted Himself to be the fall guy to accept all that would have fallen on us. But that is for another study.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

No Condemnation

Who has believed our message? and to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we didn't respect him. Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn't open his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn't open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:1-7)

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the midst, they told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?" They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of.
But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger as though he did not hear. But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more." (John 8:3-11)

What did Jesus write on the dust of the temple floor? Was it the sins of each man there causing them to feel condemned and afraid of being exposed as so many people like to imagine?

[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, [love] keeps no record of wrongs.
(1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17 NRSV)

You judge according to the flesh. I judge no one. (John 8:15)

Would it be like Jesus to condemn anyone as a means of compelling them to conform to His wishes?

Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. (Romans 2:1-2)

Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God; (Romans 2:4-5)

Judging and condemning people has never induced righteousness in anyone. God does not rely on condemning or guilt-tripping us but relies on methods of kindness, goodness and love. While it is true that He often has to give us warnings of what will happen if we continue in evil, He is never the source of the effects of evil that come into our lives. God will not resort to using Satan's methods of compulsion but will overcome evil through the attraction of His goodness alone.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)

So what might Jesus have written in the dust on that fateful day by which He rescued a humiliated, terrified woman from certain death from stoning?

Yahweh, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be disappointed. Those who depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Yahweh, the spring of living waters. (Jeremiah 17:13)

Remember that these men who had arranged for this woman to be caught in this situation in the first place, were not only experts in the law of Moses, they were likely complicit in her sin themselves by the way they had arranged the whole situation from the start. Yet we often forget that Jesus longed to win their hearts with His love just as much as He wanted to save this woman's life.

We have a hard time embracing the perspective of Jesus in such situations because it is so easy for us to feel animosity toward people we view as deserving to be exposed for their hypocrisy. Yet in believing Jesus should condemn these men for setting up this woman as bait to discredit and denounce Him, we actually reveal that we are also infected with a similar spirit of condemnation as they had that causes us to despise them. That is the nature of all temptation, for every temptation is an enticement to reflect the very spirit being displayed towards us by others that triggers in us resentment or desire to retaliate.

Let's look at a few other details in this story that have fascinating implications.

Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger...

First of all, instead of 'standing up to these hypocrites' and calling them out for their blatant disregard of the very laws they pretended to honor, Jesus chose to humble Himself by stooping down before them. At first they may have imagined He might be looking for a way to escape the trap they set for Him. His silence may have appeared to indicate they had finally found a way to stump Him and they didn't want to lose it. Thinking He was simply doodling on the ground to waste time to avoid their carefully crafted scheme to discredit Him, they moved in closer to press their question even more incessantly, sensing they were about to score a decisive victory to destroy His influence with the people. Growing bolder they demanded He answer them immediately and quit avoiding their challenge. But Jesus was acting as if He were paying no attention to them while quietly but intently tracing words in the pavement dust.

They also who seek after my life lay snares. Those who seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and meditate deceits all day long. But I, as a deaf man, don't hear. I am as a mute man who doesn't open his mouth. Yes, I am as a man who doesn't hear, in whose mouth are no reproofs. (Psalms 38:12-14)

Who was this Jesus writing on the ground with His finger? Was He not the very same one who centuries earlier used His finger to write His Law for the entire planet on tablets of stone, one of the very laws these mere humans now demanded He enforce without mercy against a fellow sinner?

He gave to Moses, when he finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets, written with God's finger. (Exodus 31:18)

One more thing to consider in this interesting phrase that John used to describe what Jesus did is where Jesus was writing. What was the medium on which He wrote words so powerful it caused every accuser to slink away in fear and guilt, defeated in their purpose to shame Jesus and kill a woman and possibly also Jesus with their schemes?

Jesus was writing in dust laying on the stone pavement of the temple floor. What is significant about dirt or dust in Scripture?

Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)

If Jesus was writing with His finger, the same finger used to write His original words of the Law on tablets of stone He gave to Moses to start with; and if Jesus had originally breathed His own breath of life into the dust He shaped into the form of the first human making it come alive and thrive in the love of the Creator, then what might it mean for Jesus to again use His same finger to write what was on His mind in dust, only this time with living humans all around Him vying to control what people should believe about their Creator?

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: (Jeremiah 31:33)

Jesus loves every person equally and passionately. He is not partial in the slightest to anyone, no matter how much animosity they may feel towards Him, for every person is His child and He longs to reconcile all to Himself and His Father. The only thing preventing His will from being fulfilled is our choice of how we will react to His overtures to win our trust and admiration for God's heart.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)