John – God Speaks!
The religious elite, the learned, pious leaders of the community have bee bested by Jesus’s words and demeanor every time they encounter him. They talk doctrine and He talks salvation. They talk adhering to rules beyond The Law and He talks of the true intent of The Law of love, mercy and grace. They cannot seem to trap Jesus with words, so it’s time to down and dirty by demoralizing a woman and throwing her at the feet of Jesus as He is teaching!
So, what will you do with this woman, caught in the act of adultery is the question shouted for all to hear. They think this will do the trick. The trap has been set, the unholy circumstance lies before all to be judged by the Son of God. What will Jesus do?
I am reminded of what Jesus taught Nicodemus earlier, before this incident with the woman. Nicodemus, one of the religious elite, saw more in Jesus than the rest of the Pharisees. He came to Jesus secretly, with a sincere heart, wanting to know how to be in the Kingdom of God. Jesus responded;
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:16-21, NIV
I’m wondering…are these words from Jesus spoken earlier, in the cover of darkness, going through Nicodemus’ mind while watching this woman, used as bait, in this grand scheme?
What was Nicodemus thinking as he watched her be pulled from her home, wrapped only in a sheet cloth, dragged through the street, into the Temple courtyard and thrown at the feet of Jesus for all to see?
The Law clearly says to stone her with rocks, big rocks. What will Jesus do, given what He has said earlier?
John 8, New Living Translation
A Woman Caught in Adultery
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
THINK ABOUT IT…
Instead of passing judgment on the woman, Jesus passed judgment on the judges! No doubt He was indignant at the way they treated the woman. He was also concerned that such hypocrites should condemn another person and not judge themselves.
We do not know what He wrote on the dirt floor of the temple. Was He simply reminding them that the Ten Commandments had been originally written “with the finger of God” and that He is God? Or was He perhaps reminding them of the warning in Jeremiah 17:13?
“Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord,
the spring of living water.”
One thing is for sure, Jesus hears the accusers. He seems to ignore them. Jesus bends down and writes in the dust. But, when He seemed as though he didn’t hear them, he made it appear that he not only heard their words, but knew their thoughts…and their hearts.
The woman, trembling, is waiting for the condemnation of Jesus.
Christ was without sin and the Only one present who had the right to cast the first stone. But with the compassionate action he took, He shows us, once again who God is in his actions. God is infinitely just and holy, none more compassionate to sinners, infinitely gracious and merciful to this poor woman who now stands ready for the verdict of her deliverance.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go…and sin no more.”
Warren Wiersbe relates, “we must not misinterpret this event to mean that Jesus was “easy on sin” or that He contradicted the law. For Jesus to forgive this woman meant that He had to one day die for her sins.”
Forgiveness is free, but it is not cheap. Furthermore, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law so that no one could justly accuse Him of opposing its teachings or weakening its power. By applying the law to the woman and not to themselves, the Jewish leaders were violating both the letter and the spirit of the law–and they thought they were defending Moses!
The law was given to reveal sin (Rom. 3:20 “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”), and we must be condemned by the law before we can be cleansed by God’s grace.
Law and grace do not compete with each other; they complement each other. Nobody was ever saved by keeping the law, but nobody was ever saved by grace who was not first indicted by the law. There must be conviction before there can be conversion.
Nor is Christ’s gracious forgiveness an excuse to sin. “Go, and sin no more!” was our Lord’s counsel. “But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Ps. 130:4).
“O Israel put your hope in the LORD for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Ps 130:7-8, NIV)
Certainly the experience of gracious forgiveness would motivate the repenting sinner to live a holy and obedient life to the glory of God.
WE ARE REDEEMED!
We are going to dive right into the heart of this story about God and what He did and still does to redeem us daily. Because sometimes, and I do it myself, we continue to stone ourselves with rocks of self doubt, worry, guilt and generally thinking we will never be good enough. We get up from our altars of prayer for forgiveness and almost immediately we revisit the sin in our thoughts.
I’m writing to you this morning to remind you, and myself, that these thoughts mar the message of redemption and literally suck the joy from all that we are and do.
I want to take some time to lay down these heavy rocks and lean into what it means to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! We’re going to lay down the jagged stones of guilt that makes us edgy and disagreeable.
We’re going to throw down the pebbles of bitterness, self loathing from our past and dissolve all regrets, replays of wrongs, and all the “wish I would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” in our lives.
We are going to “go and sin no more, leaving that life completely. Let’s begin today, at this very moment, to let go of all that holds us back! We are a redeemed, people! It’s time to live like it! It will bring a smile to your face and pep in your step!
Let the rocks fall.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Your story of redemption displayed in this incredibly awkward scene at The Temple reminds us of your love, compassion, mercy and grace for each one of us. Jesus, you came to save the lost. You did not come to condemn but to save us. We who are quick to judge, not knowing their story, sometimes have a hard time wrapping our minds around this act of mercy for the woman. You love beyond human love. Your love is divine, holy, and perfect. Thank you for loving me the way you do. Thank you for redeeming my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
Well, only because of your forgiveness and grace to me.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe. I’m redeemed!