Der Vasken’s Sermon on April 11, 2021

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Let anyone without sin cast the first stone.”

Last Sunday’s Easter message, if you recall, ended with the thought that when Jesus walked out of the Tomb, Hope walked out with Him and Hope entered our world. Hope is something we all need. Everyone needs Hope.

For example, the vaccines, many of us are getting, are giving us the feeling of Hope again—a feeling that was scarcely found just a few months ago. And so I want to pick up where we left off last week and speak some more about Hope because we have all, at one time or another, found ourselves in a place where Hope almost seemed lost.

I want to pick up the conversation about Hope by looking at the story that Sona read to us a few moments ago. Today’s Bible passage speaks of a woman accused of the crime of adultery. It was a crime that violated the moral standards of the day. This was a woman who was faced with a hopeless situation. She had a big problem. She was caught and accused of a crime that, in biblical days, spelled out certain death for her. She was forced out into public and humiliated by her accusers. She had no Hope. The crowd was going to stone her to death.

This passage is familiar to a lot of us. Jesus was in the temple courtyard teaching one day and while He is teaching, the Scribes and the Pharisees bring this woman to Him and they ask Him pretty pointed questions, and they were doing that to test Him and to see what He is going to say. They are trying to trap him to say something different from the Roman laws. To be accused of adultery in biblical days, there needed to be witnesses and what they did was essentially bring this woman out into the public to make this charge in front of witnesses. Jesus doesn’t take the bait. He doesn’t respond to their direct question. Rather, He bends down and starts writing in the dirt. In other words, He is somewhat dismissing them and what they are saying, but they keep questioning Him so He stands up and addresses them and says: “Let any one of you without sin throw the first stone.” After He tells them that, He bends back down and continues writing in the dirt.

The Scribes and the Pharisees, having heard what He said, begin leaving one by one. When Jesus stands back up, only the accused woman is standing in front of Him and He asks her, “Where did they go? Has anyone condemned you? She says, “No sir. They haven’t.” Jesus looks her in the eye and says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.” He is actually saying, “I’m not going to condemn you. It’s time to turn the page. Don’t sin anymore. Open up a new opportunity and a new chapter in your life.” For us, it means we don’t have to be condemned for our mistakes and wrongdoings. Through Christ, we have another way.

I have often wondered how that woman must have felt. One minute she is about to be stoned to death and the next, she is forgiven. She is sent on her way to a new life. My friends, for forty days we journeyed through the Lenten Season and ultimately, made it to The Cross and The Tomb of Christ.

Because we know there is no Easter without Good Friday, if you are carrying something that burdens you or has burdened your heart for a long time, take it to the empty Tomb and let it be buried there. Take it to the Resurrected Christ and let it go. Let Him take it away from you. Let Him relieve you of having to carry it so that you, too, can hear Him say, “Go on your way and live the life God created you to have.”

What walked out of the Tomb with Jesus Christ was the Hope and Love of God. Hope and Love resurrected with Him to give us all the second chance and a fresh start. So as you leave here today, think about those things that burden your heart and ask Him to remove them from your life and accept the Hope He offers to everyone who believes.

Amen.

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