Thursday, November 06, 2008

How Jesus Treats Sinners

I've been thinking today, about how Jesus treats sinners. Jesus was known in His time for his loving treatment of public sinners. Rather than publicly rebuking them, He reached out in kindness and forgiveness.

Zaccheus was an unethical tax collector, in a time and place where all tax collectors were automatically assumed to be sinners, and Jesus willingly and in front of a crowd of people, told Zaccheus that He would eat that day in his house. Zaccheus was so astounded by this manifestation of unearned love, that he completely turned his life around and announced that he would pay back anything he had previously cheated or stolen from anyone else.

Jesus welcomed the woman who was a known sinner (some say a prostitute) into the house of the Pharisee, where he was having dinner. She was so affected by His complete and total love for her, no matter who she was or what her failings, that she broke down and wept, washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.

Rather than rebuking her, Jesus rebuked the dinner guests who were unable to see beyond her human frailty enough to welcome and love her. He told them, "Her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

The woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned, as was the law of the land at the time. Jesus told the crowd, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." The crowd left, beginning, the Bible tells us, with the oldest first. Then, he asked the woman, "Has anyone condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." Jesus told her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more."

Imagine what that must have felt like. She was caught in the act of adultery. She could have legally been stoned to death. Jesus, known for His "teaching with authority", only used that authority to publicly forgive the woman. When Jesus said, "Go," he didn't mean "Get out of here", but "You are free." He didn't condone her sin, but showed her what real Love was and set her free, charging her not to sin again.

This is how we should treat each other, for we are all sinners. Being angry and judgmental is counterproductive and is not showing Love as Jesus is Love.


Marilena said...

this is true. and we should also be mindful of our Lords words to Saint Faustina as well, the greater the sinner, the more right he has to God's mercy.

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Exactly. I think it's time we stop being like the Pharisees, sitting in judgment and start being like Our Lord, reaching out in Love.

AutumnRose said...

Awesome post! Thank you, I so agree, and also with your comment, marilena, especially as I am praying the Divine Mercy novena right now.
AR xx

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Thanks, AutumnRose! Sorry I haven't been to the garden in a while!

TACParent said...

Nice post. I always liked the bible verse, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." No one can say they are without sin.

Cygnus said...

TAC: But what is often overlooked is the fact that Jesus did say, "Go and sin no more." He never said sinning was okay.

I do, however, get the point of the post, that Jesus' mercy was more than enough for the sinners to overcome their sinful ways.

--Cyg, who is still very much a Pharisee

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

TAC: Yes, ur right.

Cyg: Yes, of course. But its been hitting me lately that the more public, notorious sinners (adultery and the like) seemed to be treated with the most obvious compassion by Christ. Not excusing the sin, but He seems to show the most Love to the very sinners that many human beings want the least to do with.

Sue said...

This is what Jesus' new covenant is all about- we all could be stoned to death, or our ancestors, relegating us to never having been born.

I pointed out to my teenage daughter before the birth of her son, that without Christ's death on the cross and the new covenant of His blood, she would have been bloodily bludgeoned to death in the streets and no man would have married her, a non-virgin!

The new covenant in Jesus is all about those errors in life which we take for granted, but would have been cause for painful, public humiliation and death in OT times.

Jesus is indeed the New Covenant. Our kids and many of our peers don't understand how different life would have been without Christ's Final Blood Sacrifice.

God bless!

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Thanks for that comment, Sue! That was very moving.

Smiley said...

One sees a duality in the way Jesus treats sinners. Those who were public sinners he forgave.
But then there were the private sinner (those who sinned interiorly) but on the outside were goody two shoes), Jesus wanted to forgive these also, but He wanted them to first acknowledge that they were indeed guilty of sin. He would rebuke these private sinners publically (called them a brood of vipers, whitened sepulchers etc), by doing this the goal was to get them to reflect on why He rebuked them and from there they would repent and convert.
How often we see this in our own lives as well when we examine our consciences before a confession.

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Excellent point, Smiley! I was thinking there was a duality of sorts, but I couldn't come up with what exactly it was.

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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