Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Running Back, The Police Officer and The Compassion of Jesus

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" John 8:3-5 NIV

This month, many were outraged by the actions of Officer Robert Powell (video below on this story). Officer Powell of the Dallas Police Department made a traffic stop involving Houston Texans running back Ryan Moat in Dallas, Texas. Ryan and family had received a call from the Baylor Regional Medical Center letting them know that his wife’s mother was on her death bed.

In an attempt to make it to the Medical Center before his mother-in-law died. Moats having looked both ways drove through a red light. Officer Powell pulled him over in the Medical Center parking lot. Officer Robert Powell drew his gun as family member got out of the car to rush to the bedside. As Moat's was rightly upset, he tried to explain what was go on. Officer Powell says, “Shut your mouth. You can either settle down and cooperate or I can just take you to jail for running a red light.” Office Powell also says at some point, “I can screw you over.” Another officer came with word that Moats’ mother-in-law was really dying. Officer Powell said, “All right. I’m almost done.” However, thirteen minutes had passed away. Moat’s mother-in-law Jonetta Collinsworth 45-year-old dies before they could make it to her bed side.

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle apologized to the Moat/Collinsworth family. Chief Kunkle says of Officer Powell’s behavior, “His behavior, in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, the discretion nor the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit.”

As we look that our text today, we will see how Jesus uses his common sense, carefulness, discretion and compassion to teach us some valuable lessons.

Common Sense

In John 8:3, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus. However in order to trap Jesus it seem that they trapped a woman. It appeared to be a trap, because it takes two people to be caught in the act of adultery. They had the woman, but where was the man? Using my sanctify imagination, I believe they had conspired with the man to entrap the woman while both committed the act of adultery.

These same group of people paid Judas to betray Jesus. Now as the story is told, the woman is brought before the Pharisees and the woman is used as bait to trap Jesus.
Now, where is her partner, the man who committed this offensive act of adultery with this woman? It is apparent that he was allowed to go free.

As a teacher of the law surely Jesus was to say stone the woman to death. If Jesus allowed her go free, he could be accused of being disobedience to the Law of Moses. However, Jesus being God had good spiritual common sense. He knew that the Pharisees were trying to trap Him. We at times need to pray that God will give us common sense to see through the snares of the devil.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT, “ The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”


Ryan Moat was guilty of running the red light. Officer Powell should have used his discretion and let him off with a warning. As a public servant, he should have escorted the Moat's family to the bedside of Jonetta Collinsworth.

It is the law, police officers can take you to jail for running a red light. However, they must use their discretion to determine whether you are a risk to society once you have ran a red light. Most of the time, a police officer will not take you to jail for running a red light. There are two more options that are at the discretion of an officer. He can write you a ticket or let you off with a warning. Officer Powell wrote Ryan Moat a ticket and also threaten him with going to jail.

Jesus had to interpret the law in the same manner that police officers are allowed to do. He uses His discretion and decided to let the woman caught in the act of adultery leave with a warning. Praise is to God for His grace!

Roman 5:20-21 (NIV)
“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


Many people all over the world were outraged by Officer Powell reaction to NFL Player Ryan Moat. Due to Moat's NFL player status, we heard about this story. It could have been one of the countless stories of racial profiling. However, people of all races were outraged at Officer Powell's lack of compassion. Jesus in the text displayed compassion to the woman caught in the act of adultery.

Jesus said, “He who is without sin let him cast the first stone.” The Pharisees knew that they had sin in their own lives. Some may have committed the act of adultery with this same woman. Since she wasn't stone, we will just leave you with your imagination. They did not stone her and all of them walked away. After they left, Jesus let her off with a warning and said, “Go and sin no more.”

Compassion List 2009

1. Officer Robert Powell
2. Michael Phelps
3. AIG Employees
4. President Barak Obama
5. Jason Mesnick
6. Rihanna
7. Michael Vick
8. TI
9. Wall Street
10. Hulk Hogan

Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow

David said about him: 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because, he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. Acts 2:25-27 (NIV)

On election night; I was glued to the TV screen. Four hours prior to the arrival of President-elect Obama, 250,000 people had gathered in and outside of Chicago’s Grant Park. I can remember the expression of hope that was firmly sealed on the faces of many Americans in the crowd (Video below of this event). Most faces would remain nameless. However, there were two faces that I recognized and one in particular that I wondered about. The faces that I identified were Oprah Winfrey and Rev. Jesse Jackson. The other person that I was wondering about was Sam Perry from Menlo Park, California. Oprah used his shoulder to lean on during the events of this historical night.

However as the night progressed, I would admiringly remember the smiling tears of Rev. Jesse Jackson. He was the first black man to run for president of the United State in 1984 and 1988. During his time of service to our community, Rev. Jackson coined the phrase, “Keep Hope Alive!” Many Americans can remember this famous quote that was symbolic to Rev. Jackson’s campaign for the highest office in the land, "The Presidency."

On the night of Nov. 5 in Chicago’s Grant Park, “Hope was definitely alive!” Hope was manifested on faces of Americans from all walks of life and various backgrounds.
However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14 percent between President Barack Obama's Election and Inauguration Day. This was the largest decline ever in the stock market. The Dow Jones also made the biggest decline on Inauguration Day.
Did the Dow Jones not witness history? Did those on Wall Street not vote for change? Did not those who buy and trade stocks believe that, “Yes We Can!” I quickly learned that if I wanted hope for our present economic times then, I might need a new source. This new source is really and old source that Grand Mama used to make it through the decimation of the Jim Crow Era.

As I reflect on the many American faces that were from all walks of life, “HOPE” appeared permanently affixed upon their faces as they waited to hear from President Barak Obama. There were many faces in that crowd that would remain nameless. As I reminisce about “The Great Cloud of Witnesses” of the past, I identified with Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. I remembered one other person that I identified with, and that was Grand Mama and her generation. The shoulders of her generation were the props for Oprah, President Obama and Rev. Jesse Jackson as this historic event had come to pass.

Grand Mama did not look to man; she looked to God. Grand Mama was nameless in this “Great Cloud of Witnesses,” but God knew her intimately. Grand Mama prayed that she would live to see that historic night. Grand Mama told us that we could grow up and become president, and she believed this through the providence of God!

Providence of God

David is quoted in Acts 2:25 to give us insight to where we can find hope for a brighter tomorrow in America. We find hope in the providence of God. David says, "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Therefore, I do not need to be shaken by the banking crisis, the housing crisis, the American automobile crisis or our present moral crisis. I do not need to look for hope for a brighter tomorrow in Washington or on Wall Street. God is my stimulus package. I, like David, can get my hope from the providence of God in my life. I can also have hope in God to heal my country. God does govern in the affairs of nations.

Benjamin Franklin said, "I have lived a long time, sir, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth is that God governs in the affairs of men." The key to believing that God is my stimulus package is being able to perceive God in my nation’s affairs. God is America’s only hope. We can find hope like David and Grand Mama in the perception of God.

Perception of God

David says because of the providence of God, I can perceive Him. When I perceive God in my circumstances, I can be happy even if my circumstance has not changed. “Yet, I can shout right now!” David says, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices.”

I can perceive God making His presence known; I can have hope for a brighter tomorrow in America. C.S. Lewis says, “When you come to know God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him.” Can you perceive God in America? Grand Mama did! Can you perceive God in your circumstance? Grand Mama did! Can you feel God in the atmosphere? Grand Mama did!
She leaned on hope over and over again. Grand Mama believed in God when it was said that Christianity was a white man’s religion. Grand Mama believed that God was up to something great.

I feel and know that God is up to something great. This is a divine moment for the glory of God. I believe in this dark hour that, “Yes, God Can!” I will shout right now, because of the promises of God. We find hope like Grand Mama did in the promises of God.

Promises of God

Arthur W. Pink says, "The permanence of God's character guarantees the fulfillment of his promises." David says, "My body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." What a great promise from God in this text. I remember what Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "Keep Hope Alive!" I remember what our President said, "Yes, We Can!" But, I will fondly remember what Grand Mama said, "Yes, God Can!"

God can provide a job in an unemployment crisis. God can provide money in a financial crisis. God can provide a home in a housing crisis. God can provide a car in an automobile crisis. God can provide a president in a government crisis.
God can provide holy men and women of God in a moral crisis to remind us that, “Yes God Can!” David and Grand Mama said, “My body also will live in hope.” God has not abandoned me to die! God will not let His holy ones decay! I have hope for a brighter tomorrow, because I put my hope in God.

Thank you, Grand Mama, for believing in God. Thank you, Grand Mama, for believing in me.