As I considered how to conclude the message, the Lord led me to two familiar accounts in the gospel of John. The first is found in John 4 where Jesus met the Samaritan at the well; and the second, in John 8, where He was forced to deal with a woman caught in adultery.
John 4:1-42 The Samaritan woman at the well has had five husbands and at the point of meeting Jesus, was in a relationship with another man. We are not told whether the five ex-husbands were dead or alive, although we understand there is shame in this woman, which explained the visit to the well at the odd time of the sixth hour. After meeting Jesus, she suddenly becomes the village evangelist!
John 8:2-11 With the woman caught in adultery, Jesus never disputed the adulterous act at all. He knew that she was guilty and thus allowed anyone without sin to cast the first stone. As her accusers left, the woman was found alone with the only One who was sinless, who could execute the judgment of death due to her. Instead of the weight of stones, she felt the weight of His love and grace as He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
What Would Jesus Do? Whenever divorce is taught or discussed, the ones who have divorced or remarried obviously have the most questions. And it is so easy to be drawn into such a discourse and be forced to provide some answers. I wish John could have been clearer so there would be no debate as to how to handle such cases. And yet, I believe Scripture is deliberately silent so that we won’t have a one-size-fits-all biblical precedent for this at all. Once again, what we have are principles:
Principle #1: Dealing with Our Thirst Instead of addressing her broken relationships, Jesus addressed her thirst, one that can only be satisfied in and through a relationship with the One who is the fountain of life. Similarly, our thirst for love, for acceptance and for affirmation cannot be found in relationships, only in Jesus. Jesus must be the centre of all marriages. If not, we too will go from “well” to “well”, never satisfied to drink from our own cisterns (Proverbs 5:15-20).
Principle #2: Dealing with Presumption After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman excitedly declared Jesus as the Christ to all. That sounds really good but could she still be living in a wrong relationship with the man? After all, Jesus did not condemn her at all. Similarly, we can mistakenly presume that just because we are in church, or serving in some capacity, makes everything ok, that we don’t need to deal with our sin. Not at all!
Principle #3: Dealing with Sin How we all love the words of Jesus when He said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you.” But let us not miss the second phrase, “Go and sin no more.” We might even presume that the first cancels the second; that no condemnation gives us permission to go on sinning. No! “Go and sin no more.” Experiencing Jesus’ love and grace must lead us to repentance (Rom 2:4), to turn from what is wrong to what is right, that leads to salvation (2 Cor 7:10).
My friends, Jesus is the only One who can satisfy. Before we met Jesus, we didn’t know any better and we all made mistakes, resulting in undesirable and broken relationships. But after meeting Jesus, we have no more excuse. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we now live for Him and desire to live as He commands, as enabled by the Holy Spirit. To this end, we must be prepared to deal with any area of our lives that is not pleasing to Him. May we set ourselves and our relationships right so that these may bring honour and glory to Him!
This is just an excerpt of the sermon “The Divorce Dilemma” preached at Covenant Vision Christian Church on 8 Sept 2013. Hear the full message at Covenant Vision Media Centre or download the podcast from Covenant Vision Christian Church Audio Podcast. It should be uploaded by 13 Sept.