Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

30 September 2005

A COURAGEOUS GRACE

   John 8:1-8:11

INTRODUCTION:

A man was in an accident, and his shoulder was slightly injured, but he decided he could "stick" the insurance company for a nice bit of money.

 

He hired a lawyer who would go along with the plan, and they ended up in court.

 

The insurance company’s lawyer asked, "Mr. Smith, please show us how much your shoulder was injured by the accident by extending that arm upward as far as the shoulder will allow it to go." The man obliged by raising his arm to a horizontal position and stopped.

 

"That’s it." Then the lawyer said, "Mr. Smith, will you now please show us how far you were able to raise that arm before the accident." Again the man obliged and quickly raised his arm to the vertical so it was pointing directly toward the ceiling. Ooops! Have you ever been caught red-handed? You were guilty and everyone knew it.

Like you’re humming along on the highway, and a policeman gets behind you and puts on his lights.

I mean, isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

And you really have nothing to say, because you know that you were going way too fast.

You know that when we do something wrong, its effects are often far reaching. Simply, sin makes an impact. In today’s story, a specific sin comes to the forefront. It is adultery.

Adultery is a sin because it mocks what God has designed.

God intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman for life.

God did not intend for that to ever be broken, except by death.

Adultery is a betrayal.

It is the breaking of an exclusive promise of loyalty and love for one specific person. And its effects are devastating.

Adultery wounds the spouse; it violates marriage and destroys society.

It wrecks homes, injures innocent children and breaks up friendships.

But most importantly, it attacks what God holds dear. Adultery is a very hurtful sin.

It is very hard to forgive.

So when a woman who is caught in adultery is brought to Jesus, it is a difficult challenge.

What will He do to a person that has violated and flaunted the design of God? So here, we will find four actions in the event described in John 8:1-11 that demonstrate how Jesus handles conflict, and there is also a demonstration of COURAGEOUS GRACE. Jesus was in Jerusalem, because the Law stated that all male Jews had to go there three times a year on certain feast days.

 

But the celebration was over and they went each to his own house.

 

However, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, since no one invited Him to go home with them.

 

Early in the morning he came again to the temple.

 

All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

 

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery.

 

There are 3 things I want you to see about this situation. First, we observe the…Setting: Jesus is teaching in the temple. The temple is the place of spiritual life.

It is God’s place, His residence.

So, for those that are concerned with living according to God’s ways, this is the place to be. The text tells us that Jesus came to the temple, and it was a long day.

People kept coming, and He kept teaching. But His time of teaching was interrupted.

That’s the second thing I want you to see: A private passion became a public spectacle. The scribes and Pharisees have someone they want Jesus to meet.

It is a woman who has been caught.

The doors had been flung open, and there she was, caught in the act.

She was found in the arms of someone that was not her husband.

So, what had been a private act is now known by all who will listen to the tale.

Everyone stares at her as the posse pushes her through the streets.

She is one that has brought shame upon herself. But what we must also note here is that…A shameful act was outdone by a despicable one.

 

That’s the third thing I want you to see. You see, it was all a scheme.

According to the law, there had to be two eyewitnesses.

So it makes one wonder, how long did they peer through the window before they barged in?

How long did they wait before they flung that door open?

Did they think to warn her ahead of time, so that she wouldn’t sin?

Or perhaps they set it all up themselves so that they would have someone to take to Jesus… …and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”

 

This they said to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Yes…She’s caught, but she is only bait. You see, they don’t care about the woman.

I don’t think they even cared about the adultery.

For she is merely a pawn in their game.

She’s been framed, and she knows it.

After all, adultery requires two.

Where is the man?

Why isn’t he here as well?

It was just as likely that he was part of the scheme.

It was a set-up.

And I am sure that she has no idea why. Though the Law had been given to the people of Israel to guide them in righteous and pure living, these leaders were using it as a weapon to condemn.

Adultery was one of many crimes that required the death penalty.

It ranked right in there alongside of murder, kidnapping, and witchcraft. For the Jews, stoning was the manner in which the death penalty was issued.

The person who was the accuser would cast the first stone.

It was to be of sufficient size in order to wound.

Then everyone else would fire away at the person until they were dead.

It was a very messy way to die. Adultery was not the real issue in all of this.

And it was not the woman that they were really after.

Who the scribes and Pharisees wanted to get was Jesus.


They wanted to present to Jesus a situation that was impossible to get out of.

You see, though they were supposed to be the righteous leaders of the nation, their motives were tarnished and their attitudes were godless.

They wanted to get rid of Jesus. So here is…The Dilemma: Would Jesus obey Moses or Rome? This was difficult.

They felt that they had Jesus no matter what choice He made.

It was clear that the Law given to Moses said that she should die.

So if Jesus set aside the Law, the leaders would get Him in trouble with the people.

But, if He went along with their plan and assented to the stoning of the woman, then they would get him in trouble with Rome, because the Romans forbid the death penalty unless they had given permission.

The Romans would come down hard on “mob rule.”

So it was a difficult dilemma. Jesus’ reaction is totally unexpected.

He does not answer them.

He does not offer a solution.

Instead, He begins to write in the sand. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

 

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

 

And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

 

And when they saw it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones… The finger that wrote the Ten Commandments and the warning on Belshazzar’s wall begins to write again. Many years previous, the same finger wrote the Law on tablets of stone for Moses to bring to the people of Israel.

It was the finger of God that communicated His purity and His righteousness to His people.

The finger of God would come again in the time of Daniel with “the writing on the wall.”

It is then that the finger of God came with judgment to the evil Belshazzar, writing, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” meaning, “You are weighed in balance and found wanting.” So, as Jesus writes in the sand, we are left to speculate about what He is writing.

The text does not identify to us what He is saying. I personally think that He is privately writing the sins of the accusers.

He does not say them out loud. Instead, as they come closer to Him and press Him for a response, there before them in the sand is their private sin.

What they thought no one knew, Jesus did. So note what this revealed.

For instead of passing judgment on the woman as these leaders had intended, Jesus passed judgment on the judges.

You see…The qualifications of the accusers are brought into question. Jesus says, “Anyone here that has not sinned, they can go first!”

And there is this gigantic pause.

There is no debate!

There is not even any discussion.

The stones they were holding in their hands, dropped to the ground.

For, convicted by their own consciences, the accusers, one by one, leave the scene…and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

 

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” What I find interesting here is that…

First of all: The One who was qualified to point the finger refuses to do so. Now that the jury is gone, the woman awaits her verdict.

And the One who can condemn her, does not.

The One who has power to pass judgment, amazingly acquits.

The words come that one desperately wants to hear…

“Neither do I condemn you.” But do notice this, that Jesus’ forgiveness did not give her permission to remain and continue in her adultery.

For…Jesus gives us the opportunity to do it right. When Jesus says, “Go and sin no more,” He is saying, “Stop making sin the habit of your life.”

You see, we need to understand this correctly…

Jesus never merely excuses sin.

He never makes a place for it.

He never rationalizes it.

He forgives and forbids it in the same breath. Now, let’s make an APPLICATION to our lives from this incident: Jesus continues to pass on a message to us, but it is not written in the sand.

It is written on the cross. It is not written with His hand, but with His blood. Jesus continues to leave a message for us: “Not Guilty.” So many of us live with negative labels.

Sometimes they are not our own fault.

But so many times they are of our own doing.

And as a result, we think that our story is one of failure and shame.

But you know, it doesn’t have to be.

Because our story can be a story of grace.

For it is grace that fixes broken lives.

It is grace that heals broken hearts and restores estranged sinners.

 

For…Jesus points us to what we are intended to be. We don’t have to live in our past.

We don’t have live with the label.

We don’t have to live a life that is powerless in the face of temptation and sin.

We are chosen for something more.

 

There is a story that may just illustrate what I mean. Soccer season was starting once again.

 

This year, Curtis Buthe’s tiny, 35-pound, 5-year-old daughter would be playing Micro-League for the Bombers.

As they walked to the first practice on a cool summer day, he was anxious to see who the coach would be.

 

Would his focus be on making the game fun and a team experience, or would he focus on goals and winning?

 

As practice began Curtis met the coach, Ray was his name.

 

His first impression was that Ray was a good man.

 

Any lingering doubt about him vanished when an odd incident occurred during a practice game: the white shirts versus the blue shirts. As they began, an olive skinned little boy who (they later learned) spoke no English wandered from the playground equipment over to the sidelines of the game.

 

He watched.

 

He waited.

 

Moments later, Curtis looked for him again, but he was gone.

 

Then he noticed there were now thirteen Bombers running up and down the field.

 

The boy, perfectly camouflaged in blue shorts and a white t-shirt, had joined the white team.

 

He ran, he passed, he kicked, and he smiled. No one seemed to notice that he wasn’t a part of the team.

 

No one yet said, "He hasn’t paid the fees! The proper forms and releases have not been signed!"

 

Soon, however, a ball rolled into a mother’s lap, and as the new boy ran to fetch it, the mom innocently said to the coach, "He’s not on the team."

 

The kids, who had not even noticed that a new friend was on the field, stopped.

 

The coach looked down at the now very dirty boy, saying, "He’s not? Hmm." There was a pause as the boy looked up at Ray, who held his soccer fate, at least for this day.

 

Finally Ray made his judgment.

 

He put his hand on the boy’s small back and said, "Come on! Let’s play soccer!"

 

And off all thirteen Bombers ran. You know, none of us deserve to be on God’s team.

We haven’t earned it.

Nor have we paid the price ourselves.

Yet, in His grace, Jesus chooses us to be on the best team in the universe.

This means…WE CAN EXPERIENCE AND EXHIBIT A COURAGEOUS GRACE. It is a COURAGEOUS GRACE that does not count our sin against us.

It seems to me that it would be easier for God to say, “Let them get what they deserve.”

But that is not the kind of God that He is.

He is a God that exhibits grace so that we might experience forgiveness, His COURAGEOUS GRACE.

So…We should never forget.

Grace is free to us, but it is not cheap.

And it is a grace that we are called on to imitate.

For it is a COURAGEOUS GRACE that looks beyond what someone has done and sees what they can be.

As Christians, this is the kind of grace we not only experience, but we are to exhibit as well, so that we may be as Christ…people of grace. conclusion Experience grace…know today that whatever wrong you have done, no matter what it is, or what people think, can be forgiven; for Jesus has paid the penalty for your sin, and He freely offers you an acquittal. Experience grace…know today that God is willing to let the past be the past if you are willing to “go and sin no more;” He gives grace to enable you to be what you are intended to be. Exhibit grace…once you have experienced grace, it is now time to show it; we too are to be people of grace and see each individual the way God does, as a person needing unconditional love. I want to end with this benediction from the Bible.

 

 

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.      

 

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