In Jesus’ Postures
Pastor Charlie Wang
May 5, 2019
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."
In May 1980, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and Lord. Years later God brought me to the United States for theological education. I was called and ordained in Lutheran tradition over 23 years. Time flies. Now I am in the transition of life cycles, and so is our church. We’re going to welcome and support our dear brother Greg Swift to be the pastor of this church.
I prayed for a long time regarding what I should say to Greg and this community today. I want to share with you folks the most important postures I have learned from Jesus in the last couple of decades as a Christian and as a pastor. Honestly we have been trained and paid to interpret and to preach the good news from the Bible. We know well what is exegetic and hermeneutic. We are good at words. There is a popular edition of the Bible, called the red print, printing what Jesus said in red and other content in black. However, the longer I serve the Lord, the more firmly I believe that our imitation of what Jesus does will surly shape and reshape our life. What Jesus said is important but subject to interpretations in cultural settings. However what Jesus does is hardly to be twisted by any human language. As long as we imitate Jesus, we are in much better position to proclaim Jesus with our deeds. I dream someday, we would publish a golden print Bible, meaning it will print Jesus’ words in red and his deeds in golden color.
Here I want to share with you three low postures of Jesus that will transform our lives as well as the world. Deeds speak louder than words. Hopefully, Greg, you don’t tell your six children, “Don’t do what I do, but do what I say to you.” Do you know that your kids, even like little Jose, are very smart to see gap between what you say and what you do? If we are not able to live out what we believe, how can we convince others to practice their faith? The true good news is that there is no gap between what Jesus said and what Jesus did. We are much safer to do what Jesus does and become a more powerful witness with our deeds.
“If every one of Jesus’ deeds were written down, even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Let us imitate Jesus from the basic, his three low postures. We will find we are much better empowered and humbled to live and to serve.
The essence of Christianity is forgiveness, grace, humility and love. These virtues are from God alone. People are dying for these traits. If we are the visible expression of Christ, people are willing to listen and to follow. We modern people have all the data from the Bible. The real challenge is whether our life can be the embodiment of the good news as Jesus. Today, let us work on three Jesus’ stories when he was in the lowest postures to show people near him what the good news is all about.
One day, John 8:3-5 “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’" Jesus was cornered into this situation. He saw two groups in front of him who desperately needed the good news from God. The first group was the Pharisees and the scribes with stones in their hands. They were self-righteous and condemning. Some of them were blood thirsty to execute a most vulnerable woman, some loved to see a dead woman in torn clothes and others wanted to be a part of a powerful mob. Obviously, they were not ready to listen to the good news from Jesus at that moment. The second one was this woman. She was intimidated, unprotected and open to abuse. Her life was hanging on the line. Let us see how Jesus brought the good news to them in word and deed. He didn’t say a thing but stooped down to the ground. Now Jesus became the lowest among this multitude. He wrote letters on the sandy ground with his fingers. The eyes and ears of all people present focused on him, waiting for his response. But Jesus stayed silent for more moments. This silence was scary for the challengers. They had to keep on questioning him. Verse 7 “Jesus straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’."
Actually, what these self-righteous people needed was the honest awareness of their own sins and sinful nature. The good news 101 is human confession of their own sins and repentance. Jesus didn’t say more words. He was praying for them and waiting for the work of the Holy Spirit. Those people had the condemned woman in front and stones in hand. But the trigger for the shots of stones was the sinless conscience. Only could the man without sin be entitled to open the squad fire first. In the presence of this Holy Jesus, “All human righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.” (Isaiah 64:6) They knew for sure that they were sinners, even worse sinners than this woman. Their guilty conscience kept their hands from casting the stone at this woman. Without criticizing and accusing, Jesus made those people aware of who they were.
It is hard to believe that Jesus’ non-judgmental and non-accusing attitude carried such a power to conquer souls. Verse 9 “When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.” Here Jesus tells us that condescending attitude and harsh words don’t work well to get people aware of their sinful nature. But a short and firm statement of truth or a question works better for sinners.
Now Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. This woman now had to face the savior and Lord herself. Jesus asked her in Verse 10, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She witnessed the power of awareness of sins and repentance. She answered, "No one, sir."
Verse 11 Jesus’ verdict came to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again." This is true forgiveness and pure grace. In a humble low posture, Jesus stayed with her to the last. He sincerely identified with this sinner as he identified with all sinners all over the world on the cross yesterday, today and forever. He didn’t condemn anyone but humbly sought all out without a harsh word. When sinners are aware of themselves in sin, he just assures them with acquittal and encourages them not to sin again. This pure grace touches countless human hearts ever since and attracts people to follow him.
Years ago, our MidWeek study group ran into this passage. Hope Lopez, our former member, suddenly stood up with tears flashing in her eyes. She said, “If I were there, I would follow Jesus for life.” This world is hungry for grace from God through Jesus’ words and deeds. Grace is what we don’t deserve, we can’t earn and we can never pay it back. In this low, low posture, Jesus imparts divine grace to the condemning men’s group, to the condemned woman, to Hope Lopez and to all of us. I am sure that we all see Jesus’ way to bring the good news to all. This world is dying for grace. The powerful and shocking good news we can bring to people is to treat them with grace as Jesus did to this woman. The question is do we do as Jesus did through his humble and gracious deeds? Keep this low posture in mind for life and be gracious to everyone, especially to the oppressed, the poor and the brokenhearted. Brother, Greg, in you ministries, stay in Jesus low posture to identify and to seek out the lowly in wealth, education, and even morality.
Let us see the second low posture of Jesus. At the most solemn moment of the last supper, Jesus broke the bread and consecrated the wine as his body and blood to remind his followers of his sacrifice and humility. Unfortunately, right after the first Holy Communion, a power struggle broke out like hell among the twelve who had already followed Jesus for three years. Luke 22:24 “A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” Three years with Jesus was not enough for the disciples to grow out of their ego-centeredness and to learn humility. What would you say and do if you were in Jesus’ position? Perhaps, we would be very upset and ready to chastise the disciples. No, Jesus didn’t do that. On the contrary in John 13:4-5 “He got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.”
We know at Jesus’ time, the servants who washed the feet of the guests were in the lowest rank of slaves. Jesus, the Son of God descended from glorious heaven into this filthy world among sinners to show God’s love. Now again he lowered himself down as a lowest servant with one knee touching the ground to wash the feet of his disciples. His wet hands rubbed their dirty and smelly feet, and dried them with a towel. When the teaching in words no longer worked for the twelve, the only way to register the good news with them was his role model in humble deeds. I believe that this was the strongest holy spank on the faces of the twelve. They all took back their dirty feet and mumbled, “Oh, no, no, no…, Lord.” But Jesus did wash their feet. In any moments of their lifetime, they would be shamed to death when they wanted to contend for more power or dominance again.
This world is an arena of power struggle. Toddlers fight for attention, school kids fight for attraction, couples fight for domination, colleagues fight for promotion and politicians fight for election. But Jesus brings the good news of submission in his low posture. His disciples demonstrated the bad news of human pride and arrogance, but Jesus confronted them with the good news of humility and servanthood in action. When the good news in words doesn’t work for proud people, your role model of humility is the precious good news on time for them. Therefore, Greg don’t be discouraged when we are frustrated by proud and power-hungry people. The Holy Spirit has the way to work in their hearts with the good news embodied in our humility. For Jesus told all his follows in John 13:14-15 “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” Jesus calls all of us to be the mutual role models of the good news for the believers and the non believers as well.
The third low posture of Jesus we want to work on is found in Mark 1. That day Jesus called his first four disciples along the lakeshore of the Galilee Lake. They went to Peter’s home. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and she got up to serve the meal for Peter’s teacher and other fellow disciples. The news of healing went out to the whole town. Villagers didn’t have HMO or PPO. They brought their sick folks to the front door of Peter’s home, expecting the touch of Jesus for healing. Jesus did restore many of them. But the influx of the sick on stretchers was too big to handle. Jesus had to rest for the night. Peter promised his fellow villagers that the free clinic of his teacher would be open the next morning. People were asked to go home in good hope that tomorrow this Jesus would heal them. The disciples were in high spirit that the power of the healing touch won for them instant fame and attention. Everyone expected to see more miracles next morning.
On this second day of their discipleship, Jesus had another good news of spiritual obedience for them. Through his role model, the disciples might find that the first priority of Christian life is to seek God’s will. Mark 1:35-37 “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’” To the surprise of Peter and the other brothers, they couldn’t find Jesus in the guestroom or in the dining hall. The healing master was missing and the promise to heal the sick was about to break. They looked around and would almost call 911 for a missing man. They still couldn’t find him. Finally, they walked miles to the vicinity of the town and saw a kneeling man in the dim light of dawn. This was only the second day for them to be Jesus’ disciples. Peter even complained, “How, how can you Master hide yourself here praying while a big crowd of sick people waiting at my front door and we all are looking for you?” Yes, this is a big problem for Christians. We all are task-oriented and desire to achieve more. When we, especially men, have something to do, we always do things first instead of reading the users’ manual first, or seeking God’s guidance first. When a phone call comes to ask me to do something before my morning devotion time, my intimate time with God would be ruined this day. But Jesus firmly impacted on his disciples with his life style of prayer. Through his action, he tells us that our responsibilities and tasks are important, but not as important as the fresh daily guidance of God. Seek God first everyday, and all these things will be added onto you. Hopefully, all of us can imprint the posture of Jesus’ prayer in our souls. What Jesus did is the true good news for all if we can follow him. As Pastor Charles Stanley said, “We are taller and stronger than ever when we are on our knees.”
Here is my unforgettable experience. After I got a stroke, I was lying in bed at Garfield hospital. I cried to God, “Lord, are you going to give me back the privilege to pray to you on my knee?” I share this with a strong Christian therapist. He said to me, “you will.” The first time he helped me to kneeling posture, I cried out saying “thank you lord I can come back to you.” I treasure more than ever this privilege to kneel in front of God.
Jesus’ good news is fully expressed in words and deeds in his low postures. When we want to bring the good news to people, we treat them with grace as Jesus did in a stooping posture. When we want to bring the good news of humility and servanthood to people, we first lower down ourselves as the foot washers. When we want people to seek God’s will, we first bow down on our knees in the morning dawn. Seeing is believing. May the power of the good news first change us and we grow to be the embodiment of the good news before people. The good news of words and deeds as Jesus did will be the only impact we can leave on fellow Christians and non-believers as well.