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.
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 what 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.”
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!!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
Here is a core value we need at KCF, “love people when they least expect it and least deserve it.”
Don’t you think this is that moment for this woman? Least expected it, maybe least deservedit, 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!
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!
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)
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.
I would just ask you this question, is there a stone in your that you need to put down?
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.