Summary: Our response to the tragedy that took place in the mass murders of 50 people in a nightclub in Orlando can help build God's Kingdom or build more hatred between the church and the LGBT Community. Our best solution is to see how Jesus might respond.
Special Note: I read this at our welcome time.
During our morning message, we will be talking about some mature themed topics today. There will be a time or two that we drift somewhere in the realm of PG-13. If you have children with you who are not yet teenagers, we would encourage you to let our very capable staff watch them during the sermon time. We will dismiss them right after we collect tithes and offering.
I sat in silence as the clip played on Youtube. A "pastor" of a "church" in the United States was shouting that the mass shootings that took place in an Orlando night club that took 49 lives is "good news." He said in his rant (that has since been removed by Youtube) that there are "49 less Sodomites and Pedophiles in the world now." He concluded that "The world is a better place because of it."
I don't know about you, but I was shocked by his words. And I wondered if this is the way Christ would react to this news? Do we tell the world, "They deserved it"? Do we go the other way and put up rainbow colored lights on our church signs in a show of solidarity and support? How do we as Christians respond to this tragedy.
It's important! What we say with our mouths and in our hearts can have a massive impact for or against the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying this sermon will be easy. I know that there are not many groups that are more antagonistic toward one another than the LGBT community and the church. Where this exploration ends may not be easy for us to digest. But we are called to react as Christians in the same way Christ would react. Today, we are going to explore what that might look like. And it starts with the heart.
In John 7, Jesus has been teaching at the temple in Jerusalem during one the of Jewish festivals – the Festival of Tabernacles. As he teaches at the temple there is division among the crowd about who Jesus really is. Some think he is demon possessed. Others think he is a good man, but even they wonder how this man from Galilee could be the Messiah. John even tells us that Jesus own brothers doubt him.
And the religious leaders? They think Jesus is a loose cannon that needs to be dealt with. So they are privately trying to figure out a way to kill Jesus. When they finally send out the temple guards to arrest Him, the temple guards come back empty handed. When questioned by the religious leaders, the guards say “No one has ever spoken with such authority as this man.”
So as chapter 8 opens up, I imagine the religious leaders are stewing about how they can get their hands on this man, Jesus.
John 8 opens up and the author tells us that Jesus leaves the city of Jerusalem and goes up to the mount of olives.
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
The mount of olives is Jesus private place – his place of refuge. And a reading of the other gospels lets us know that what Jesus often does on the Mount of Olives is pray. I would guess that Jesus had been probably praying the entire evening after his confrontation with the religious leaders and the crowds. In verse 2, Jesus is back again in the temple courts in Jerusalem.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
Hit the pause button - There are some things I want to stop and investigate at this point in the story. First, we need to explore something that those familiar with this passage often gloss over or miss. We need to realize that the Jewish leaders were legally right (at least partially) in what they said. The Old Testament law indeed treated adultery as a capital crime. We see this in the book of Leviticus.
“‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.
So this wasn’t some addendum or add on to the law that the religious leaders were prone to doing. This is a very real law. And after studying a little bit about ancient Jewish civil law, I discovered that even in Jesus day, the Jews had very strict conditions under which adultery was punishable by execution.