We Must Answer Well: More Jesus and Sex
(Again, if you haven’t been along for the whole ride, to read in order, click: Answer Well)
Jesus and John, Serious about Sin?
So John the Baptist preaches repentance and forgiveness of sins.
People come to him and confess, and are baptized.
Jesus forgives sins.
People come to Jesus, or He goes to them, or they are brought to Him and He exposes the fact that they are sinners.
- He gently says to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
- He says truthfully to the woman at the well, “The man you are with is not your husband.”
- And He does not condemn the woman caught in adultery. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
So then, is Jesus serious about sin or not?
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.”
And the servant was healed that very moment.
Yes, Jesus is serious about sin. So serious that in the middle (pronounced mid-dle, for emphasis) of performing a miracle Jesus stops to warn people that the sin of unbelief leads to hell.
Jesus also spoke warnings and woes over large groups of people. Cities even.
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”
Jesus is very serious about sin. God sends John the Baptist to preach repentance. Jesus comes preaching repentance, forgiving and performing miracles. And yet, in spite of this gracious time of warning and miraculous signs, people—whole cities—keep on sinning.
Some may argue, “That was then, this is now. We’re talking about sexual behavior. Does God even care about that?”
Does God Care About Sexual Behavior?
Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”
And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
There’s a really long time between God making the earth and human beings and Jesus showing up on the scene. Yet Jesus answers the question about divorce by pointing all the way back to the beginning and saying that God’s design hasn’t changed. Two people, a male and a female, become one flesh. God joins them together. Who is man to undo what God has done, or to change His design?
The argument “That was then, this is now”… loses.
Jesus calls for us to view our sexuality in recognition of our Creator. Sexual union is meant to be a male and a female, and it is meant to go unbroken in marriage. That’s Jesus, God’s Son, on sexual behavior.
What Does Repentance Look Like?
What does repentance look like? For anyone? This next story happens to be about sexual sin, but it could be in regard to any sin. But for the purpose of continuing in this vein, we’ll ask:
Can someone who has broken God’s law concerning sex repent?
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”
Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”
And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Repentance is humble. Repentance seeks Jesus no matter the social embarrassment or awkwardness or shame to be endured by exposing one’s own sin. Repentance is contrite, is sorry, is broken over the sins committed.
Those who repent love much the One to whom they have turned.
This woman–who has been sexually active outside of marriage, who has broken God’s law and everyone knows it–comes on her own! She is not caught. She is not confronted. She admits her sin and exposes herself.
And Jesus, seeing her repentance and her faith, forgives her.
Act Like Jesus
We sometimes want people to repent without any having any faith.
Honestly now, how do we expect that to work?
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.
When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
And they went on to another village.
We cannot call down fire to consume. We are not the One who gets to condemn. A show of retribution by force is not one of our witnessing tools!
If we are to witness for Jesus, we should do it like Jesus.
- Individuals do not get beaten up with the record of their sins.
- Conversations about sin are truthful, gentle, invite people into relationship with God, and encourage them to “sin no more.”
We do not get to rail against individuals.
We do not get to call down condemnation on cities.
We may get to pronounce woes, but I wouldn’t call that something we look forward to. Rather something we would dread doing. Clearly, Jesus took no pleasure in his woes over the cities. His heart was broken for them. And it’s His heart attitude that we want to have.
We need God to give us hearts like John the Baptist and like Jesus.
(to read in order, click: Answer Well)