BIBLE DIGEST - Number 62                                                                           August 1996

Allon Maxwell

What we say here applies not only to Christian Prosecutors, ...... but also to Christian Magistrates ...... and to Christian Police Officers ...... and to Christian gaolers ...... and to Christian Executioners! 

Bible Digest gives due respect to those Authorities whose role it is to make and enforce the laws which govern our community. So far as we know how, we obey those Authorities and keep those laws. 

Nor do we attempt by force or politics or civil activism, to impose our conscience on others who are comfortable with the involvement of Christians in the "Law Enforcement Industry". 

But we do assert that those who claim to love Jesus and obey Jesus, ought to be PEACEMAKERS who live by the PERSONAL non violent standards which are to be measured by nothing less than ALL the teaching of JESUS, in the Sermon On The Mount and other places in the Gospels. That teaching, taken to its logical conclusion, effectively disqualifies Disciples of Jesus from any involvement in any of those areas of employment. 

Christian Prosecutors ...... and Police ...... and Magistrates ....... and Gaolers ...... and Executioners, would do well to ask themselves some hard questions about their understanding of the story of "The Woman Taken In Adultery". (John 8:1-11)

The story is well known.

There is no doubt about the guilt of this "prisoner"! She was caught in the act. 

The penalty under Jewish law was DEATH BY STONING. (And that Law was set in place God Himself!)

When asked what should be done with her, Jesus did not question at all what the law said. But He did ask a VERY awkward question about who was free to carry out the Death Penalty. He said:

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

As it stood, there was only ONE in that crowd who was without sin! AND HE SAID:

"Neither do I condemn you .....".

In speaking as he did, Jesus removed from ALL OTHERS WHO OBEY HIM, the right to carry out the Death Penalty (or any other penalty for that matter) ...... and He declined to carry it out Himself!

In doing so He did not bend the Law, ignore the Law, abolish the Law, or change the Law, ...... but FULFILLED the Law! (Matt 5:17) 

That means that Jesus found something in the Law that made it RIGHT not to inflict the immediate penalty! (Right for His Father who made the Law, right for Himself as Son of God, and right for all others who obey Him).

Our question for Christian Prosecutors is this :-

Mr. Prosecutor, are YOU without sin? Of course you are not!!!!

Then how can you possibly claim the approval of Jesus for the pursuit of a career which will effectively cast that first stone at MANY OTHER SINNERS who find themselves in the same position as that woman?

We KNOW from the example in that story, that JESUS would not act to carry out that Death penalty.

Would Jesus then take the role of prosecutor? Would He call the witnesses for the prosecution to give the evidence which convicts? 

Would He demand that the Jury convict, and that the Judge impose the death penalty? ...... Would He press for the the full weight of the law in other ways?

Would Jesus :-

- Throw the switch on the electric chair? 

- Pull the latch on the hangman's trapdoor?

- Drop the cyanide capsule into the gas chamber? 

- Give that lethal injection which puts a man down like a dog?

Would Jesus command (or silently condone) what He would not do Himself, for those who call themselves disciples?

I think not ..... and that story about the woman taken in adultery is my reason for believing that I have heard him right!!!

Yes, I do believe in a FUTURE Judgment! And I do believe that THEN (and ONLY THEN) Jesus will become the judge who imposes FINAL sentence on unrepentant sinners!

But that is not for TODAY! 

For today Jesus continues to say :-

"Let him who is without sin among you 
be the first to throw a stone at her."

Will we hear Him? ...... and will we love Him enough to obey Him? ...... at any cost?

I cannot answer that question for anyone else, nor can I impose MY conscience on anyone else,

But I can suggest that you go direct to Jesus with your answers to those questions!