But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts; where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.
If you are anything like me, some of your most memorable moments double as your mostembarrassing moments. Sometimes the memories we have are not always the best—- sometimes their very painful. (Accused of breaking widows!)
For some reason, embarrassing moments have a way of stamping thehuman psyche so you have a hard time forgetting them.
This is a moment that this woman would never forget, and my hunch is that some of you this morning have had moments like this.
In a moment of anger, in a moment of lust, in a moment of compromise, you said or did something and there’s some scar tissue that forms around that memory and that moment and that decision, —the thing said,—- the thing done, and that is the reality of life. That’s where we live our lives.
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?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. (They were setting Him up!!)
Usually contentious, legalistic, phari-saical people have an agenda and they will use other people to fulfill their agenda. (The woman in this story!) They will tell enough people to stir up strife and then step back and let other people do their dirty work. That’s how splits come!
These religious men in this story are just like legalists in our day. They couldn’t have caredless about this woman, her sin, her soul, or her eternal destiny.
All they cared about was pressing their agenda, and their brand of righteousness. Thing haven’t changed! All Pharisees are the same!)
I want to be very clear here. I am not a pastor nor is Pastor Dale, Pastor Joe, Pastor Doug, pastors that preach in the past tense. Trying to produce guilt over what you did yesterday. We are future tense preachers.
Our cover on our Statement of Information says this:
The Church that could not Care Less
We could not care less where you came from
We could not care less where you have been
We could not care less what you have
The thing we really care about is You and so does God!
…. And that’s about it!
What I care about is your future. I care about you. I care about the decisions that you are going to make today—– moving forward in a way that is healthy and holy. (Nothing to do how I feel!)
Before I move on I want to make one other observation here because we need this paradigm shift.
I think we tend to view the 10 Commandments in very judgmental terms, but I would suggest that they are 10 of the most loving statements in the Bible.
I mean, if you really love someone, aren’t you going to do everything within your power to keep them from hurting themselves. Listen, sex was God’s idea, it’s not just a good idea, it’s God’s idea, a beautiful, wonderful thing, but He wants us to experience sex without shame,and when we go outside of those boundaries, what we are doing is we are hurting ourselves.
So the bottom line is this, this woman made a selfish decision, she made a sinful decision, she made a terrible decision, she made a decision to hurt herself and to scar her husband, to scar the other man’s wife, obviously in a moment of passion, she wasn’t thinking consequentially, —- and certainly lived with that moment as a memory that she would regret the rest of her life.
Listen, here’s a little definition of sin – sin is trying to meet a legitimate need in aillegitimate way. And so many of us fall into that trap and make that mistake
I’m sure her reaction to this is as ancient as Eve, —– she felt tremendous shame!
Guilt: How we feel about the things we have done or been involved in.
Shame: How we feel about ourselves because of what we have done or what has been done to us.
Condemnation: The accusing voice of the enemy saying we are unworthy.
Conviction: Gods invitation to forgiveness and reconciliation.
In their haste to bring this woman to Jesus, her accusers probably didn’t give her sufficient time to get properly dressed before they brought her into public. However that may have been, ……she was certainly humiliated by the public accusation and disclosure of her sin.
Shame….. That’s not a real popular word, we don’t like talking about that, but I think a lot of us feel this guilt that we can’t put our finger on it.
What I’m trying to say is that shame is the first negative emotional reaction and it issomething that at a deep level, we have got to deal with! …. if we are going to experience hope and healing and wholeness. ( That’s why it is important that you go through Cleansing Stream in order to deal with these life issues!)
You know what’s so beautiful about the story in Genesis about Adam and Eve is this: Adam and Eve made a mistake, but who is the first one to the rescue?
It is God Himself. Gen3:7
It says that they were (… I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself) …..ashamed of their nakedness, so what did God do? It says He created covering. Not our superficial coverings we try to make.
God made the covering
Now this is a beautiful, primal picture of what Christ would do on the cross because the wordatonement means to cover, and God covered their shame in a moment of grace and mercy and love and it foreshadows what Christ has done for each one of us on the cross. He covers,
He atones, not just for our sins but in a very deep level, for our shame.
Listen , those of us who know Christ and know the grace of God, we take it for granted.
I’m just thinking of myself, if I didn’t have a place to turn, where would I go with these feelings I carry inside of me?
I would be so trapped by my past, but Christ came to set us free. I love what happens next.Verse 6.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,
By the way, I don’t know if this is more brilliant or more compassionate, more compassionate or more brilliant, but what a response-
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
I love Jesus for lots of reasons, but this is so heroic to me. A woman who was without defense, the last thing Jesus wanted to do was condone what this woman had done, but this is courage.
Ø He was willing to risk his reputation to defend this woman, and He is willing to risk His reputation to defend you, and this is what I love about Jesus.
I wonder if this was Jesus thought So!…. you want to cast a stone, …… over my dead body.(Which would soon happen!)
This woman’s life had to be changed that moment. We’ll come back to it, but what a moment.
Listen, some of you have messed up and you are naturally afraid of God’s reaction, and I think we carry with us this image of an angry God, but Jesus said, “I did not come to condemn the world.”
Ø If you want to know how Jesus will respond to your messed up life, what you need to do is look at this story.
It is a picture of how He responds. He comes to our defense. It’s why the Bible calls Him ourAdvocate. He is our Defender. Jesus said, “I didn’t come to condemn the world,” but Hecame to step up and offer healing and hope and forgiveness.
That’s what Easter is allabout!!As we celebrate Easter I want you to hold this truth in your heart:
The resurrection power of Jesus Christ has the capacity to turn backwards not only physical death, but also the death-dealing forces that intrude upon our lives in this broken world. That Jesus can reverse the death syndrome of those things that “kill” life- absence of fulfillment, loss of hope, and misunderstanding
Ø Here is a core value we need at KCF, “love people when they least expect it and least deserve it.”
Ø Don’t you think this is that moment for this woman? Least expected it, maybe least deserved it, but I tell you what, if you want to impact someone’s life, you love them when they least expect it.
Don’t love them when they expect it and deserve it. Maybe that didn’t come out right, but you know what I’m trying to say.
Yes!!!Love them when they expect it and deserve it, but you know this, you get no credit for flowers on Valentine’s Day. That gift on her birthday? You’re thinking, ‘I’m such a great husband! I got my wife a birthday present.’ You get no credit! You only get negative credit; you get the debit if you don’t remember. If you aren’t married, you will discover this!
Ø But if you really want to impact them, love them when they least expect it and least deserve it. That’s how Jesus loves us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He is our Advocate.
Verse 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first,until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”( I don’t think He was looking at the ground when He said this. I think he looked straight into her eyes)
Math 5: 27“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
You see, adultery can be committed with the head and the heart just as surely as it may be committed with the body!
Ø At this point, all the shouting came to a stop and all that could be heard was the dropping of their rocks and the shuffle of their sandals as they slipped quietly away. You see, these men had been exposedbefore their fellow man, the accused lady and most importantly before the Lord.
Let’s at least give them credit for the fact that when they saw themselves as they really were, (Perhaps the most painful realization of all), they stopped calling for the death of this woman. I want you to know that one of the hardest things you can face is yourself …as you really are! However, when you see yourself as being sinful, then you can do something about it.
There’s a guy named Jonathan Glover who did a document on 20th Century wars and he refers to moments like this as a sympathy breakthrough. And he said in his research, almost always it is the result of one thing – eye-to-eye contact. He said there are moments, even in conflict, when compassion will overwhelm us because eye-to-eye contact will overcome hand-to-hand combat.
Now, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it in more poetic or prose terms. He said this, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” (Broken Children Grown up Pain)
Ø Is it possible that, that’s why God loves us so unconditionally? He saw the brokenness that sin had caused. Saw us helpless and hopeless in fixing ourselves
We are so quick to judge others, aren’t we?
We are so quick to take that stone in our hands.
We are poised and ready to throw it, often criticizing in others what we don’t like about ourselves.
We desperate need a “sympathy breakthrough in the church”. This is the saddest thing to me and I’m not sure exactly how to state it but I want to speak to those who have had some stones thrown at them by those who are supposed to be representing Christ Himself. …. I’msorry.
We are so quick to blame someone, we’ve got to explain it somehow, got to point the finger at someone, but that’s not who Christ is, that’s not what He represents.
Let me also challenge you with this – don’t let those who want to stone you keep you from the God who wants to forgive you.
Do not let a Pharisee keep you from coming to Christ, don’t use that as an excuse, because that’s not who Jesus is, and we need to do our level best to represent the grace of God, to love them when they least expect it and least deserve it, but we make mistakes because we are human.
Ø I would just ask you this question, is there a stone in your that you need to put down?
Ø Is there something you need to stop throwing at other people?
If you really knew them, I think it would disarm you. God knows you, He knows everything about you, He knows the best the thing you’ve done and the worst thing you’ve done, and here’s the thing that is so tough for us to understand, He can’t love you any more or any less because He loves you perfectly.
You can’t do anything to change how much He loves you because He is an infinite God with infinite love for each one of us.
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (Acceptance and Direection!!)
This is interesting to me, because the only One who met the qualification that He established was still standing there, —– (That was Jesus!)
But He gave this woman a new lease on life.
I want to talk about this because I think that this is one of the most hopeful statements in the Bible, it could change your life.
But first, let me say this, how do we experience healing for these shame wounds that we’ve experienced, for these sinful scars in our life?
Ø Number one, you’ve got to confess that sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness . But you’ve got to confess it. In other words, you’ve got to come clean.
Ø Here’s the thing we overlook in this story, we don’t think about it because it is not recordedin Scripture, but this woman had to go tell her husband. Can you imagine? What a moment. How many of you know how difficult it is to confess? To God, to others, it’s hard.
Some things are more difficult to confess than others.
We try to hide it, try to blame others, try to use it, but at the end of the day, the only way you are going to find freedom is confession. (Confrontation and Restoration)
If you confess your sin, I promise you this, He will forgive you, and in that forgiveness, am Isayingthat all the consequences are gone?
No, but He will help put back together the pieces of your life in a way that is redemptive, in a way that is healing and you will no longer be responsible for the penalty of sin, and that is a beautiful promise.
Secondly, you need to change your lifestyle. Do you notice what Jesus says here? Go now and leave your life of sin. Easier said than done!
Really, nine times out of ten, spiritual growth comes back —-to breaking a bad habit or establishing a good habit.
There’s something you need to stop doing and something you need to start doing, and it’s going to take something radical for you to make that change. (Diagram Process For Change)
I don’t know what that is for you, but maybe you might need to cancel some channels, cut up a credit card, get an Internet accountability partner, stop talking about someone behind their back, move out, go for counseling, confront someone, compliment someone, start serving, lose a friend. Those are some things, you’ve got to interrupt the pattern in your life and you’ve got to take steps to step out of that and begin to create some change in your life.
Ø Now, what empowers us to do it?
The (God who believes in you). This isn’t some self-help message. We talk about our faith in God all the time, but what about God’s faith in us?
You can’t help but think about Peter, … he messed up, denied Christ, and then Jesus doesn’t just forgive him, He says, ‘Ok, here’s the kingdom, it’s in your hands, go for it.’ Is that not the most quantum act?
Not just forgiveness but Peter I believe in you because I’m going to empower you, I’m going to use you, you are going to become more than you could ever be on your own.’(“Love me Peter —- than feed my sheep”)
What’s so beautiful about this is that Jesus gives this woman a new lease on life. I want to tell you, it is never too late to be who you might have been. You let the grace of God into your life. Is it going to be painful? Maybe.
Are you going to have some tough conversations? Absolutely.
There will be scar tissue and it will be painful to fight through that but it is never too late tobecome who you might have been, if you allow the grace of God into your life.
I understand Paul Harvey has passed away, but his “great take ” was this:
“stay tuned for the rest of the story”.
One of the things that can really catch you as you study Scripture, and I’ll close with this, the fact that a woman like this walked right off the pages of Scripture and we have no idea what happens to her. You notice this, right? What happens to this woman?
For that matter,what about this kid who gave Jesus five loaves and two fish? What happened to that kid?
I want to know the rest of the story! What about the daughter of Jairus who was raised from the dead?
What about the demonic that had a legion of demons cast out into a herd of pigs?
What was he thinking every time he ate bacon?
What about the paralyzed man that four friends lowered through the ceiling and he literally walked off the pages of Scripture?
What about that guy? But what about his woman? We don’t know, but I do know this, that Jesus turned what had to be at that point in her life the worst moment of her life. Yes? Yes. It had to be the worst moment of her life, and I believe He turned it into the first day ofthe rest of her life.
He turned the worst day in this crazy kind of way that the grace of God does …. that turns our lives upside down, He turned the worst day into the best day because He gave her a newlease on life and He wants to do the same thing for you.
Today can be the first day of the rest of your life. How?
Use this word::—–Help!
That four-letter word, when I don’t know what to pray for, …. some of you are at that point, if you only knew how messed up I am inside Pastor Dave. Listen, when you don’t even know what to do Cry out to Him for Help
He knows what you need, He knows who you are and He loves you and He wants to meet you and He wants to grace you. He wants you to start all over again.
The wonderful thing as we celebrate communion this weekend, what a reminder!
Ø What a reminder as we celebrate communion, it is God’s way of saying, ‘Let’s start over again.
I’m going to heal you, I’m going to help you.’ You have to make some tough decisions but He is going to help us heal.
Story from a Video Transcript:
I relive that moment over and over and still there is not a day that I don’t think about it. Growing up I had good grades and did well in sports and had a lot of friends, I just didn’t feel good enough. There was something that felt inadequate, a hole in my life.
So when I got a little bit older, I discovered alcohol and that was what filled that hole for me. I didn’t understand why I was feeling depressed and anxious all the time and my life became smaller and smaller until all I was doing was drinking. It was the one thing that could break me. My worst fear, I realized as I was driving home one night from a party, I drank and drove a lot, all the time, and this night, I was not fortunate and I ended up hitting someone on my way home and at that point in my life, I couldn’t stop and face reality.
My first instinct was to run, so I did. I went home and discovered that the person I had hit was killed instantly. Everything changed in my life right then. All I knew was to anesthesize myself, so I just drank for oblivion.
That next six months was the darkest period in my life. I was facing about 40 years and my lawyer just didn’t think there was any way that I wasn’t going to serve some time.
So we showed up at court, I was 18, I had just finished my first semester of college, and the first miracle that happened that day was the victim’s mother came up to me and said she was going to recommend probation to the judge.
That was miraculous, we were not expecting that. The whole time, she had been very angry and really wanted justice, so to hear that gave me a lot of new hope. The judge that was there that day, we were concerned because my lawyer didn’t know him, no one knew who this judge was, it was supposed to be a female judge and out of nowhere, this judge from Dillon County came and we sat in the courtroom all day terrified because he was so strict. We got up in front and he was talking and a lot of it I couldn’t understand but I’ll never forget these words, he said,
“You probably think I don’t know what it’s like to be in your position,” and he looked at the mother and said, “You probably don’t think I know what’s it’s like to be in your position, but there was a boy I knew who was 17, and almost the exact same thing happened to him and he didn’t give up, he went on to college and had a great life and that boy was me. And the person I killed was my brother and I had to face my mother for the rest of my life, so I’m granting you probation and this is your second chance at life, so make the most of it.”
I’ve never forgotten that. That judge has been with me every day on this journey and I really began to seek God and I wanted to know who God was. I mean, I believed that He existed but I still, it really hadn’t translated to my heart yet.
When I first heard the word grace, I had no idea what it meant, and I think that myexperience with this judge personified it and showed me then, not getting what I deserved, because if I had gotten what I deserved, I would be sitting in a jail cell, but he said I was given this glorious second chance at life.