Mid-week pastor’s update 2-1-2023

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

February 1st, 2023

“‘Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?’

‘No one, sir,’ she said.” John 8:10b-11a

I don’t know if you have ever faced accusations, but for me, the very prospect is intimidating. I’m afraid of being accused legally for something, financially for something, I even dread the thought that I might cause a fender-bender and face the wrath of an inconvenienced business-person or tattooed aggressor.

But of course people face accusations of much more serious degree: crimes, fraud, infidelity, etc. False accusations are bad enough to defend oneself against, but how much more terrible the ones that are true!

One of the characteristics of God (which probably doesn’t get enough recognition) is that of silencing accusers. The story quoted above shows Jesus doing just that in John 8: Jesus, calmly and succinctly, neutralizes a situation that could have caused a(n admittedly guilty) woman her life.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” is Jesus’ metric for justice, stated in verse 7. And then he bends down to do the simple act of writing on the ground and waits for their response.

Sister White in the Spirit of Prophecy says that Jesus was writing the accusers’ secret sins on the ground, intimating “there are things I could accuse you of as well”. This well accounts for how and why the accusers were shamed into silence and gradually drifted away.

Then Jesus, left alone with the woman and asking the question quoted above, then says “neither do I condemn you” (note: the one who indeed had no sin and therefore could’ve rightly thrown the first stone! But he chooses not to) “…Now go and sin no more” (v. 11b)

What a beautiful thing for the woman to be given her life back, with a clean slate, yet a charge to live up to God’s ideal will for her life!

Similarly, the accusers of the apostles were shamed into silence, seeing the undeniable miracles being wrought in Jesus’ name. You can read about 1 such example in Acts ch. 5

And we, too, face accusers, and Jesus knows it. Telling us both: ““Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12, and “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18

All these religious accusations come from a source, the great “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10, KJV), none other than Satan, who’s name in Hebrew (“Ha-Satahn”) literally means “the accuser”.

We see God much more aggressively silencing Satan’s accusations in the book of Job (Satan, whom after accusing both God and Job in chapters 1 and 2a, quickly disappears from the narrative after that), and even more vehemently in Zechariah chapter 3, where Joshua the high priest stands accused before the throne of God, but God responds “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!… Is this not a branch snatched from the fire?” (Zech 3:2).

And the truth is, we are all accused. We are accused externally by voices (of which Satan is behind many), and, perhaps even more toxically, internally by our own self-criticisms and put-downs.

But today I want to invite you to make the same Jesus who silenced the woman’s accusers, the same God who rebuked Satan in defense of Israel’s high priest, to be the silencer & rebuker of your inward accusations.

One of the things about a capitalistic, competition-based society, is that it gives out messages that you are never, in-and-of yourself, enough to be valued. Unless you are giving 110% to something (or many things) all the time, you are not worthy to be in the room.

This is how faith life (and hopefully church life) is supposed to be different! You are not valued for what you do, what you can produce, what you can offer someone else: you are precious and treasured simply for being a child of God! And no amount of either overachievement on one end of the spectrum, or laziness on the other end, can change that! No amount of beauty or ugliness changes your unique identity and belonging in the kingdom of God. No amount of riches or poverty, no brilliance or idiocy changes God’s opinion of you.

To put it succinctly: you are enough! Just as you are. Be confident in that. Tell the outward accusers and your own inward voices that you have an advocate who defends for you in holy places! (1st John 2:1) And that you choose that to be your foundational identity, rather than their claims.

I pray that Jesus’ work on your behalf will be efficacious, both in heaven’s sanctuary, and also within your own heart, to say: “I am beloved by the king of the universe! Stand back, criticisms, you’re about to be blasted away!”

May that truth ground us, root us, and propel us forward in confidence.

Many greetings, and God’s blessings to you and your loved ones this week and beyond!


Pr. Mark Tatum

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