REFLECTING THE CHARACTER
1. This morning, we will continue in our series on Reflecting The Character Of Christ. So far in this series, we have seen that we are to be kind and empathetic just as Jesus is kind and empathetic. We will begin this morning by examining point number three.
III. THIRD, AS CHRISTIANS, WE SHOULD SHOW GRACE TOWARDS OTHERS JUST AS JESUS SHOWS GRACE TOWARDS US.
1. Read (John 8:1-11).
2. In this story, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were trying to trick Jesus into making the final judgment call on the state of an adulterous woman.
a. If Jesus told the religious leaders that the woman should not be stoned, they would accuse Him of violating Moses’ law (which in Lev. 20:10; Dt. 22:22 required death for adultery).
b. On the other hand, if Jesus urged them to execute her, they would report Him to the Romans, who did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions (Jn. 18:31).
c. On the surface, it seems that Jesus was in a pickle. But of course, Jesus knew the right answer. He told the people, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And then as we know, each person, one by one, went away.
3. Although everyone had left, Jesus was still faced with the problem of confronting the adulterous woman.
4. If you were the one who had to talk with the woman, what would you say?
a. Lady, you are living in sin.
b. How dare you cheat on your husband, you are a low life, scum of the earth.
c. Your going to Hell and you deserve it.
5. Would you have scolded and lectured her?
6. Let’s look at how Jesus handled it. (Read v. 10-11).
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
7. Although this woman stood for the opposite of everything Jesus taught, even though she was living in a terrible and degrading sin, Jesus openly expressed tenderness & compassion and forgiveness to her. The Son of God didn’t scold her, instead, he lovingly told her to leave her life of sin. He gave her a second chance. He showed her grace.
8. Do you show grace to others when they make a mistake or sin against you?
9. Or, do you judge them harshly and angrily scold them for their actions?
10. Who are we that we can harshly judge or scold another person for their sins or mistakes. Are we without sin ourselves? Are we righteous enough to throw the first stone?
(James 4:12) “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?
(Matt. 7:1-3) Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye.”
11. When someone sins against us, the Bible teaches in (Matt. 18), that we are to go to that person and talk to them about it. But when we do, we need to be loving and gentle.
(Gal. 6:1) “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
(2 Tim. 2:24-25) “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct...”
12. Of course, our natural tendency is to judge people and look down upon people who commit sin and make mistakes. However, we are to be like Jesus who shows grace toward the sinners.
Leonardo da Vinci painted the fresco "The Last Supper" in a church in Milan. A very interesting story is associated with this painting.
At the time that Leonardo da Vinci painted "The Last Supper," he had an enemy who was a fellow painter. Da Vinci had had a bitter argument with this man and despised him. When Da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot at the table with Jesus, he used the face of his enemy so that it would be present for ages as the man who betrayed Jesus. He took delight while painting this picture in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas.
As he worked on the faces of the other disciples, he often tried to paint the face of Jesus, but couldn't make any progress. Da Vinci felt frustrated and confused. In time he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. Only after making peace with his fellow painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.
No matter what people have done to us, we should be willing to forgive them and show them grace, so that we can continue to create our masterpiece of life.
IV. FOURTH, AS CHRISTIANS, WE ARE TO BE FORGIVING JUST AS JESUS IS FORGIVING.
1. Before Jesus died on the cross, we read in (Mt. 27:26, 31) that Jesus was FLOGGED OR SCOURED & THEN CRUCIFIED.
2. I want to take you back to the streets of Jerusalem and describe the pain and agony that Jesus endured and how He treated His executioners.
3. First of all, the Bible says that Jesus was “flogged or scourged.”
4. To prepare a man for scourging the victim was stripped of his clothing. His hands were tied to an upright post above his head. The back, buttocks, and legs were laid bare for beating. This procedure exposed the greatest area possible to inflict as much pain as possible.
5. The instrument used in scourging was a short whip called a flagrum. It consisted of a handle, to which several cords or leather thongs were affixed, which were weighted with jagged pieces of bone or metal, to make the blow more painful and effective.
6. C. Truman Davis, a medical doctor, describes the process of scourging on the body of Jesus:
The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand...The heavy whip is brought down again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spuring arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by the many blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped. The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood.
7. After Jesus was scourged, Matthew 27:27-31 tells us that the soldiers put a crown of thorns on His head (the scalp is one of the most vascular areas of the body which would cause a lot of bleeding) and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews.
8. After that, from the place of scourging, Jesus started out on the 650 yard journey “bearing his own cross” enroute to Calvary. The part of the cross that was carried was the patibulum, the horizontal part which weighed between 75 to 115 pounds. Along the way, we read that Simon of Cyrene, a North African carried the cross of Jesus to Calvary.
9. When Jesus finally arrived at Calvary, He was crucified.
10. C. Truman Davis describes the crucifixion of Jesus:
The crucifixion begins. Jesus is offered wine mixed with Myrrh, a mild pain relief mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is order to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the reading ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ is nailed in place. The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. Jesus is now crucified.
As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain--the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point, another phenomenon occurs. As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rendering cramps, searing pain as tissue is torn from His back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills serum and begins to compress the heart.
It is now almost over--the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level--the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues--the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues...His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow his body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, ‘Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.
11. Isn’t your heart touched and moved to hear how Jesus died for you and me?
12. From this detailed account of Jesus’ death, I want you to see that even though Jesus experienced intense pain and agony, in (Luke 23:34), while on the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive those people who were putting Him to death.
13. Although Jesus was experiencing an incredible amount of pain and anguish on the cross, He did not ask His Father to strike them dead but to forgive them. He manifested no hatred, no ill-will, no animosity, no vengeance. Instead, He forgave them.
14. Brethren, as Christians, we are to forgive others just as Jesus forgives us.
(Mark 11:25) "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
(Ephesians 4:31-32) “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
15. Right now in your life, are you harboring bitterness and anger against someone who did you wrong? Do you wake up in the morning with hatred in your heart toward someone else. If you do, this morning is the perfect time to let go of your bitterness & anger and forgive the person or persons who treated you badly.
16. But you may want to say, “But Keith, they don’t deserve to be forgiven.” But I say, “Did the people who put Jesus to death deserve to be forgiven? No. “Do we deserve to be forgiven by God when we sin against Him? No. But yet God still forgives us.
17. Forgiveness means that you pardon the people of their offenses.
a. You give up all feelings of getting even.
b. You let go of all the hurt that they have caused.
c. You keep no record of wrongs.
18. Forgiveness means it is over; it is complete; it is finished. Forgiveness is a choice. Don't allow one or two people ruin your life.
Several months ago, I read a story that literally broke my heart. The story was about an 18 year old girl from Texas, who was sexual abused by both of her parents. Her parents, both lawyers and very successful politicians, had been molesting her since she was 4 years old.
And for 14 years, this girl did not tell anyone what her parents were doing, because they had threatened to kill her if she told. However, one day, this 18 year old girl became a Christian, and she finally realized that her parents were treating her badly. So one night, she fought back and asked her parents to stop their sexual advances. But instead of them stopping, her parents became violent, and they became so violent that the girl’s dad took her arm and twisted it behind her back, which caused permanent damage to the girl’s spine. After it was over, they took her to the hospital and claimed that she fell down the stairs.
To make a long story short, while the girl was in the hospital, she found a suicide note in her mother's purse. As she read the note, she realized that the suicide note was not her mothers, however, it was supposed to be from her. See, her parents had plotted the death of their only child because they feared that she would tell the authorities about her parent's abuse. Well, after she read the letter, she realized that she must run away and find help. So she did, and she ended up at the Minerth-Meir Clinic.
While at the clinic, she had suicidal tendencies, depression and anxiety. She was in an emotional wreck because she had 18 years worth of past hurts that she had to deal with. She was so angry with her parents that she wanted to kill them. She continued harboring this fiery anger towards her parents for over a year. The only chance she had to survive and get on with her life was to “some how forgive her parents.”
She resisted for months, however, one day she forgave them, although they did not deserve it. In her own heart, she forgave them, and from that moment on, she began to heal emotionally.
We must do the same. On a side note -- although she forgave her parents, she has nothing to do with them. She has a new family, and great career. Her parents were never convicted of any wrong doing.
19. Brethren, if she can forgive her parents of their evil deeds, then we can forgive those who have hurt us as well.
20. When you forgive someone, the burden of anger, rage, and bitterness begin to diminish. You have set your mind free, and you can begin to experience true peace.
21. When you forgive someone, you may from time to time have a hard time forgetting what had happened. Your mind may still remind you of the hurtful event.
22. Forgiving does not mean that you will forget. But in time, the hurtful event will go away.
Have you ever seen someone ring one of those huge bells that are usually in a church tower. See the Bell is rung by pulling on a rope. Once you pull the rope, the bell begins to “Ding, Dong.” However, once a person stops pulling on the rope, the bell begins to slow down until there is a final dong and it stops.
23. When we choose to forgive someone, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we must not be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. But eventually, the angry feelings begin to come less often until it finally stops.
1. In closing our series, we have seen that our lives need to reflect the character of Christ.
2. What type of character does Jesus have?
a. He is kind-hearted.
b. He is Empathetic.
c. He shows grace.
d. He is forgiving.
3. Is this the type of character you portray?
4. If so, people can see Christ living in you.
5. If not, you can change. Starting today, pray and ask God to help you to be more like Christ.
6. The heart that is kind, empathetic, shows grace and is forgiving is the kind of heart and character that most resembles Jesus.
7. If you would like to give your life to Jesus, please come now as we stand and sing.