Today we are going to explore the life of a woman and her accusers in John 8:1-11. This is the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus to pronounce judgment on and let the stoning begin…
The whole trap for the religious leaders was this; If he permits her to be stoned, the crowds will never forgive him, but if he doesn’t and shows mercy then he is a lawbreaker. They thought to themselves, ha, we got him, but you know what I love about Jesus?? He always found real treasure in those who knew they were already condemned and beyond hope.
Before we go on, have you ever held a stone in your hand?
Historically, sins have been separated into two categories, outward sins and inward sins, or sins of the heart. Now sin is sin equally and we are all guilty of breaking God’s laws; however let me describe –
Outward ones are ones that are easily seen by others and they are most often appetites that get out of control like laziness, lust, greed, addictions.
The second category is sins of the spirit that have more to do with our heart than with our bodies like arrogance, a judgmental attitude, self- righteousness. They usually don’t provoke as much gossip though.
Often in the NT we read the story of Jesus confronting sins of the heart more than the obvious outward sins… most people who sinned outwardly were pretty honest about their condition. However, it was those who were trying to come off as ‘more righteous than thou’ that were guilty of arrogance and Jesus called them blind. They thought they were good moral, upright citizens yet Jesus saves his harshest words for them. They thought they had their act together and yet they had a smugness that smelt like death. He clearly laid out that the sins of the heart were the most destructive and dangerous of them all as seen in Luke 18.
What do you imagine that Jesus wrote in the sand?
John doesn’t tell us. Some have thought the 10 commandments, another idea more popular, dating back to the 5th century, was that Jesus was writing down the sins of the men in the group. He confronts these men with a decision. If you are going to condemn her, first take a good, hard look at yourself. When sinful people start passing judgment on others, they pass judgment on themselves
So, what happens?
So what does Jesus do? He bends down and starts writing in the sand and then he straightens up and says, to them, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.
The people start to walk away, the older, wiser one first….they drop their stones and leave the scene.
So, what can we learn from this story?Remember Who You Are v1-6
- but for the grace of God go I.
We are in the lifeline business and our lifelines come mainly in the form of words. Every word has the opportunity to bring hope, healing and strength or destroy vitality and their spirit.
We can choose to accept, to build up, to extend mercy and grace or we can pass judgement, condemn someone and wound them even more.
The apostle Paul tells us to accept one another in Romans 15:7 and 12:10 – honour one another above yourself. Jesus demonstrated it.
Remember What We Are All About v7-11
-we are all about what Jesus is about.
What are the kind of things that people do that are like ‘throwing stones’?
· Posting something on FB about someone else that isn’t true.
· Speaking negatively about someone in a situation that you aren’t directly connected to.
· Making a judgement call about someone solely based on appearance.
Why do people throw stones?...Maybe we must let people let know how much we disapprove of them so we can feel better about ourselves
Do you have any stones that you need to let go of?
· Judgmental thoughts
· Superior attitude
· Impatient words
· Bitter resentment
· Little room for love
Paul said that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
Romans 8:1. On Jesus’ team we don’t need to condemn
people who stand condemned already. The
question is what are we going to do about it?
How are we going to love them back into relationship?
How will we let go of a judgmental attitude?
Is it against an ex-spouse, your mom or dad, your husband or wife a coworker, someone who has hurt you deeply?
To lay down your stone may mean action for you. You may have to go to someone and confess to them, set things right. If your heart is hard against someone, do an act of service for them. Don’t tell anyone. Ask God to change your heart.
I once had a very difficult relationship with my lead pastor while serving as a youth pastor in a church. I was challenged by a friend to pray for him for 30 days straight before making any decisions or speaking to him on that matter. As it would turn out for me, our relationship changed and we had the best camaraderie that year. I'll never forget when he asked me for the opportunity to speak to the youth and then proceeded to wash my feet in front of all of them. It was so powerful, so believe for change!
And, really, when these teachers of the law first signed up, it probably started out well I’m sure they were motivated by love, but somewhere along the way, all their study of Scripture had filled them with pride and their giftedness had made them impatient with the weaker ones.
What is so insidious about the sins of the heart is that the carriers usually have no clue. When you sin outwardly, you know you have messed up. With the sins of the spirit, you have the potential to just continue to walk through life with a stone in your hand.
Now as we close, notice that Jesus doesn’t stop there, He tells her to go, now and leave your life of sin. He was the only one who had the right to throw stones, but He doesn’t. Go and sin no more…These words fill her with pain because of her past, but they fill her with hope because the future looks bright, someone’s believes in her!
So, when people finally open up to you and tell you their secrets, don’t stand there in shock, but listen and then respond, continue to love them in to the light, into the truth, into freedom, into the hope of newness of life.
Failure to confront, to speak the truth in love can be as fatal to the growth of a community as much as being judgmental
We are in the life saving business. Radical acceptance and forgiveness produce what a judgmental heart and condemnation cannot - a transformed life. We walk through their sin or failure and give them hope, courage and strength to overcome.
Let’s be authentic and share our struggles and in doing so give others to freedom to share and realize, hey, we don’t have it all together. We are just humbled by God’s grace and forgiveness in our lives. Let’s lay down our stones