Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, October 11, 2013

28 Stories - Study 5: A Changed Woman


Fundamental: The Experience of Salvation


Bible Story
Jesus made His way through the pre-dawn streets of Jerusalem. Having spent the night praying on the Mount of Olives, He was rejuvenated and ready for the day. He anticipated his early morning teaching session, hoping He would draw a significant crowd before sunrise.
The streets hummed with the low murmur of a city waking up. Candles, visible through the windows of many of the homes, revealed busy families.
Jesus arrived at Solomon’s Temple and sat in a visible place half way up the staircase. Two large white-marble columns towered behind Him. He looked at the Mount of Olives in the distance. It was the perfect location for today’s lesson.
People began to gather, greeting Jesus, “Shalom, Rabbi.”
“Good morning!” Jesus repeated many times as the people, ranging from the homeless to the pious, arrived and found places on the landing below.
Jesus lifted his eyes to the crowd. He paused for a moment, ensuring that all were listening, “Where does light come from?” He asked slowly, “And what does it reveal?”
The people loved a good question. They mulled it over. A Pharisee in the back hazarded an answer, “Light is God’s gift to us, revealing His perfect will.”
Jesus smiled and opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a raucous group emerging from the darkness. Rather than passing by, the unruly bunch headed toward the temple stairs, forcefully dragging a woman. She fought, screaming. The men, firmly grasping her wrists, brought her between the crowd and Jesus. It was clear to all; she was naked.
“This woman,” one of the men spat, “was caught, just now, with another woman’s husband—in the very act of adultery!” Jesus stood to face the men. “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
Jesus waved the men’s grasping hands away from the woman. Her arms were released and she quickly covered herself. He leaned over and scrawled something in the dust on the step nearest the man who had made the accusation. The man adjusted his gaze, lining his head up with the ambient morning light so he could make out the words. His head snapped up, more jerkily than he intended. Jesus made eye contact with him. “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
The man, so aggressive just moments before, submissively eyed Jesus with wonder and fear. He glanced again at the dusty scrawl, turned and exited through the crowd.
Jesus looked at the remaining group and then began furiously scribbling in the dust. Word after word, man after man, the unspoken rebuke continued until the woman stood alone between Jesus and the crowd, her gaze still firmly fixed on the ground at her feet.
After all of the men had fled from their secrets, Jesus lifted the woman’s chin so their eyes met, “Where are your accusers?” She peered at the space where the rude and rough men had stood just moments before. She looked confused. Jesus continued, “Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” She said with visible relief.
Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
The remorse, rage and fear that coursed through her escaped with one ragged breath. Her energy gone, the woman slumped to the ground. Clinging to Jesus’ feet, she began to cry. Jesus removed his overcoat and rested it on the woman. He sat on the step just above her.
The early morning crowd looked on with mixed emotions. Many of them couldn’t help thinking to themselves, Oh that I might be thrown at His feet and watch my accusers and my sin vanquished so effectively!
Just then the sun rose from behind the Mount of Olives and poured it’s penetrating light into the colonnade of Solomon’s temple. The sun illuminated Jesus’ face. Behind Jesus, the white marble steps, walls and columns shone with such ferocity that the people shaded their eyes.
Jesus had been waiting for this very moment. With the sun blazing into the eyes of his listeners, Jesus spoke to their hearts, “I am the light of the world.” Reaching down He lifted the face of the young woman, still clinging to his feet, “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


My Reflection
Imagine you were the woman in this story: caught, accused, forgiven, covered and called—how would you have felt at each stage?


My Story
Have you ever been forgiven for something that you knew deserved much more punishment? How did you respond?

Have you ever forgiven someone for something they deserved to be punished for? How did it feel to offer forgiveness?


My Assurance
There are many promises for those who have been saved by Jesus. Jot down the key thoughts in each passage below and write a one sentence “thank you” to God under each.

Titus 3:3-7 ~ Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Romans 5:6-10 ~ You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

John 3:16 ~ For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 8:14-16 ~ For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.


My Commitment
Every healthy relationship has two active participants. Jesus’ gift of salvation causes us to respond actively. Read the verses below and then write down the commitment each calls you to make. How might these commitments change your life?

Mark 9:23, 24 ~ “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

1 Peter 2:21, 22 ~ For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ~ God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.


My Outlook
Kingdom dwellers in God’s Kingdom see this world — it’s people and problems — differently. How do ‘Saved’ people change? What impact should those who have been ‘Saved’ be having on this ‘Lost’ world?

Colossians 1:13 ~ For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

John 3:4-7 ~ “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’

Ephesians 2:8-10 ~ God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Romans 12:2 ~ Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


My Response
The following statement is the 10th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?


The Experience of Salvation
In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.

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Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on John 8.

Further Reading
Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 8:7-12; Romans 3:21-6; Romans 8:1-4; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Galatians 1:4; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Romans 10:17