Preparing for Holy Week

Noreen Guyer

Early in the morning He (Jesus) came again to the temple.  All the people cane to Him, and He sat down and taught them.  The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him.  Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And once more He bent down and wrote on the the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him.  Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

John 8:2-11

There is a whole lot that can be unpacked from this story, but the part on which I have been pondering lately is Jesus’ words to the woman: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”  

This story took place during what we call Holy Week, the week bookended by Palm Sunday and Easter, and prior to the crucifixion on Good Friday.  While the Pharisees planned to trick and humiliate Jesus, He chose to offer to the woman a costly demonstration of His love that shamed the Pharisees.  William Temple writes regarding these words of Jesus to the woman, “It is not a formal acquittal; it is a refusal to judge.  He who so refuses is the only One who ever was without sin; He alone was entitled to condemn; and He did not condemn. But neither did He condone.”  This makes me ponder the thought that I am not condemned to an eternity without God because of Good Friday; Jesus gave Himself over to torture and shed His blood on the cross for my sake.  With His death and shed blood on the cross I am no longer condemned to be apart for eternity from the Kingdom of God, but … I must go and sin no more.

Heaven, hell, sin, these words are no longer in vogue in our culture today.  Yet, John tells us this:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.  So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the Truth.  But if we are living in the Light, as God is in the Light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the Truth.  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts.

1 John 1:5-10

I am eternally grateful that the Truth of these words were revealed to me many years ago and I was able to see that I was not longer condemned to an eternity without God!  Good Friday was indeed good for me and it is for you too!  

Now, Easter is coming!  With Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He brought a new life in Him!

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2Corinthians 5:17

Yet, as a new person, while I am no longer condemned to eternity without Him, I do have a new responsibility to go and sin no more; to walk out my daily life empowered by His Spirit.  

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful natures desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.  When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.  Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control.  There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Galatians 5:16-26

So, as I enter Holy Week, I will use this special time to reflect on:

  • The good of Good Friday; I am no longer condemned!
  • The joy of Easter and my responsibility to sin no more and live by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s words.  How am I measuring up?

How about you?