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John part XXIII

         Have you ever felt judged by someone else?
         I see that hand…
         I don’t need a show of hands this time, but have you ever judged someone else?
         Or, have you ever judged someone only later to find out you didn’t have all the information?
         I think we’ve all been on both sides of the fence on this issue.

Later, we’ll talk a little about judging others & we’ll talk about how God redeems us.
         The scene we find Jesus in today is in the Temple.
Jesus is teaching in God’s House & the Pharisees drag before Him a woman who had allegedly broken the 7th commandment.
And the Pharisees turn to lawyers…
& they cite the law of Moses…
& wait for Jesus to rule as Judge & Jury after the evidence was presented.
Listen to…
John 8:6 “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.” (NLT)
         They wanted to hook Jesus on the horns of a dilemma.

It’s interesting that anytime someone makes a power play like the Pharisees, someone gets exploited or hurt or used or all of the above.
         And this woman, who had apparently been involved in adultery, is brought before Jesus as a pawn in the chess match the Pharisees were playing with Jesus.
But as we will see soon, the religious leaders were playing checkers while Jesus was playing chess…
Let’s take a look @ the accusation…
John 8:3-5 “As He was speaking, the teachers of the 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. ‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’” (NLT)
         This was not the 1st time the Pharisees had tried trip Jesus up.

They were hoping to get Jesus to contradict the Old Testament with His response & then could prove He was a fraud…
& then… they could stop all of this non-sense & this Jesus movement that was endangering their status & their position & their wealth…
They want to destroy Jesus’ street cred!
         Picture the scene if you will…
Jesus is teaching from the Old Testament… it’s early in the morning…
& He is in the middle of His bible study when a group of men literally drag a woman & drop her right in front of Jesus.
…a woman caught in the act of adultery.
I don’t know if the Pharisees hated the woman, but we do know they used her to try to get to Jesus…
Anytime we treat people in any way other than how we would want to be treated, we will degrade them & hurt them.
         The religious leaders had tried to trip Jesus up…
but this time they are certain they’ve got Him hooked on the horns of a dilemma.
Let’s take a look @ the trap they were setting for Jesus…
The penalty under the law of Moses for adultery was to be stoned to death.
If Jesus followed this teaching from O.T. & said to stone her to death, they could turn to those who were following Jesus & say…
This is your messiah?
This is the guy who said told you He was a friend of sinners?
Now He is saying it is okay to stone this poor woman?
How can you follow this guy?
         On the other hand, if Jesus said…

Don’t stone this woman & He went against the law of Moses…
The penalty for a Rabbi (teacher) who denied the truth of the Old Testament law was death by stoning.
         So, the religious leaders were probably thinking, someone is going to get stoned… we don’t care who gets stoned because either way… we win.
And can you imagine how bonkers the religious leaders would have gotten if Jesus told them to ignore the Law of Moses?
         The Pharisees knew they had Jesus hooked on the horns of a dilemma.

When you’re hooked on the horns of dilemma, there is no good option… you can only choose between bad & worse…
There was no way He could get out of this one…
it was option A or option B & there was no option C.
The Pharisees thought for sure there was no right answer…
         Notice how Jesus responds…
John 8:6 “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.” (NLT)
         Jesus wrote on the ground like He wasn’t even paying attention to them!

You ever ask someone a question & they’re doodling & they seem to not be paying attention to you or your question?
         It’s highly frustrating, isn’t it?
         I kind of think that was what Jesus was sort of doing…

I don’t think Jesus drew in the sand because He needed time to come up with an answer to this dilemma… that seems farfetched, but some believe that.
         Some say that Jesus wrote in the sand so the accusers would have to repeat their demand for His answer as they did in v.7 …
John 8:7a “They kept demanding an answer…” (NLT)
         Perhaps Jesus was so troubled that these men had brought this defenseless woman & used her & her sin as a pawn to trap Him…

         I don’t know what He wrote in the dust, but Jesus sort of plays their game…
John 8:7b-8 “… so He stood up again and said, ‘All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’ Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.” (NLT)
So, Jesus plays their game… sort of…

Notice that Jesus says “All right…”
In other words, go ahead & stone her… but not so fast my friend…
Let’s begin stoning her with the person who doesn’t have any sin…
just try not to hit me…
Go ahead, stone her… the person with no sin can start…
The person who has never committed adultery in your heart… you start…
The person who has never looked @ a woman lustfully… you start…
The person who thinks I would never ever do what she has done… you start…
         And one by one…
they drop their stones…
and they all go away…
         until they were all gone & Jesus was left alone with this woman.
         In the blink of an eye, the plot of the Pharisees is unraveled…
Here’s what the Apostle Paul says about condemning others…
Romans 2:1 “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” (NLT)
         Jesus said, “Stone her if you like, but let her be stoned by those who are free from sin… because it is unthinkable for one sinner to stone another…”

         And they walked away… one by one…
John 8:10-11 “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’” (NLT)
         What did Jesus mean when He said, “Neither do I condemn you”?
Maybe Jesus meant that she couldn’t be condemned without witnesses…

the trial had to be called off.
         I think Jesus meant that He didn’t condemn her for the same reason He doesn’t condemn people today who turn to Him… how does He do that?

Andy Stanley says “He called sin ‘sin’ & then He paid for it. And then having paid for it, He can say, ‘I don’t condemn you.’ And then He says to all of us, now that I’ve called sin ‘sin’, paid for it, & said I don’t condemn you, I want you all to leave your life of sin. And if you don’t, I love you. And if you can’t, I love you. And if the woundedness & the shrapnel of your own sin has left you at the place where you’re not even sure you’ll ever be able to walk away from the complexity of your sin… I love you. And if someone has sinned against you & it has sent you into a spiral of self-destructive behavior, that you’re not sure you’ll ever recover from, I love you. And the truth is, you are a sinner. But the grace is, I don’t condemn you. And no one will ever love you more & I couldn’t love you any more Myself.”
         Only Jesus could forgive her of her sin & only He would pay the price to make her right…

John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (NKJV)
         This woman goes from potentially being stoned, to being set free in every way imaginable.

But Jesus didn’t stop by saying that He didn’t condemn her…
Jesus said, “Go and sin no more”.
         First, Jesus pardons her… I don’t condemn you…
Next, He instructs her to be obedient… go & sin no more…
Isn’t that the opposite order man made religion & even the world would tell us?
They would say, go & sin no more…

& when you’ve done that…
come back…
& I’ll pardon you…
because you’ve earned it…
Dear ones, that is a great definition of religion…
religion tries to teach us how we should reach up to God…
The Bible teaches us how God reached down to us!
         That’s the problem with religion…
& that’s the problem with being a ‘religious person’…
it always gets things backwards.
Religion says if you go & sin no more…
& if you do it well enough… then you’re not condemned.
Religion teaches people how to clean themselves up…
You know, DIY… Do It Yourself…
Do It Yourself so you can be presentable to God.
Jesus says to all DIY’s, you’ve got it all wrong…
if you believe in Me & what I have done…
you will be fully pardoned…
& on the basis of that pardon…
you can live for Me with My help.

What can we take from this story?
         The worst sinners are often the most vocal accusers
Have you ever noticed that?
Dr. David Jeremiah says that the worst sinners often have the longest fingers to point @ others who have sinned.

Let’s take a look @ the men who accused this woman…
Later, Jesus would call these religious leaders snakes & a brood of vipers & asks them how they will escape the judgment of hell… (Matthew 23:33)
snakes… that kind of describes their actions in our story, doesn’t it?
         According to Jewish Law, no accusation of adultery could be made unless there were multiple witnesses…

which, if you think about it, it’s kind of creepy isn’t it?
But stoning someone to death is a serious thing…

& you wouldn’t want to find out after the person was stoned to death that the information wasn’t factual…
         So, in order for these religious leaders to have caught this woman in the act of adultery, it seems likely that it was planned…. a set up.
Today, we call that entrapment.
         Some scholars think that the man with whom the woman committed adultery with might have even been one of the religious leaders (Sanhedrin)…
And that means that the adulterous man would have been standing with the other religious leaders before Jesus accusing the woman… with stone in hand!
One source indicated that these religious leaders were not moral men, but carried on affairs & were involved in immorality.
         Now, going back to the accusation…

there had to have been witnesses in the room or strategically placed witnesses looking through the keyhole so that the act could be witnessed by more than one person…
so they could drag this poor woman brought before Jesus…
all for the purpose of trying to hook Jesus on the horns of a dilemma.
         The worst sinners are often the most vocal accusers…
Think about it… the religious leaders didn’t even bring the man with her!

According to Jewish Law, both the man & the woman were to be stoned to death when engaged in the act… but where was the man?
He is not there…

or perhaps he is there… with stone in hand…
in the crowd of accusers.
At the very least, the man was involved in the plot in some way…
& maybe they had granted him immunity in advance for his sin if we would agree to carry out the plan.
         Isn’t it interesting that the person who has sin in their own life is often the one who is immediately ready to accuse others of sin?
And sometimes, the more severe the accusations, the more there is probably evidence of sin in their own life because it touches on a nerve that is so raw.

Quite often the greatest sinners are also the most vocal accusers
         Isn’t it true that the thing that bothers us the most about other people are the things over which we haven’t been able to get control in our own lives?
         You don’t have to look much further than your own home.

The things that really bug us about our kids are the things that are often the biggest imperfections in our own life.
         Dear ones, we need to be careful of having a judgmental or critical spirit.
         Now, on the one had we have Jesus teaching in the sermon on the mount not to judge unless we want to be judged…
And we will be judged with the same measure we have been judged with.
And before we go trying to get the speck of dust out of someone else’s eye, we should probably get the telephone pole out of ours…
         We are not to judge… God is judge… not us…
And we are not to judge or condemn people who don’t know Jesus or subscribe to His teachings because they haven’t signed up for this…
They haven’t agreed to follow Jesus & His teachings, so we are not to judge them… because they haven’t signed up for this.
         And we aren’t to judge each other…
but we are commanded to confront each other when we see each other sinning…
You are to do that for me & I am to do that for you & we are to do that for each other so we may become more like Christ in the process…
And we are not to give offense or take offense in that process…
We do that for each other because this is what we signed up for…
But we are to do it in a way that is not judgmental or critical in spirit or tone, but in love.
We are called to love one another…
& if you really love someone…
& you care about them…
you aren’t going to continue to let them continue to deteriorate in their walk with Jesus without pointing it out to them… in love…
But that’s not judging… that is confronting…
And we do that for each other… in this place… with other believers… not with those who haven’t decided to follow Jesus because they’re living by their own set of rules or no rules at all & we are not to expect them to follow Jesus teachings…
As Andy Stanley says, “We are not to judge the heathen, just the believin’.”
         But unfortunately, it is easy to get that backwards…
It is much easier to judge those outside the church & point out all the sinful things they are involved in & wring our hands & say how bad it is & maybe even tell them how bad it is… when they haven’t even signed up for following Jesus… they are doing their own thing…
And when it comes to each other, we say nothing… crickets…
We don’t think we have the right because we’re not perfect…
Or we are afraid we’re going to say it in the wrong way & someone will get offended & not talk to us…
And we don’t do the very thing we are supposed to do.
         But we have to be careful that we don’t have a judgmental or critical spirit…
And many times the greatest sinners are the most vocal accusers… because they don’t speak in love… they tend to be critical because something is deeply broken in them…
         Well, the other thing we learn from this story is that…

Religion won’t get you to heaven & certain sins won’t keep you out of heaven
         I think this story within the context of the verses we’ve read & the context of the New Testament would seem to indicate that this woman would be in heaven, but the religious leaders wouldn’t make it.

She committed adultery, they didn’t.
How could that be?
We miss heaven because we have inherited sin from Adam’s nature.

And we are sinners by birth.
And we go to heaven, not because we are sinless, but because we have brought our sin to Jesus who was sinless & we had our sin forgiven… just like this adulterous woman.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved… grace is when we get something good we didn’t deserve… unmerited favor…

And it isn’t DIY… religion won’t get you to heaven.
This is not on your own doing…
Because there aren’t enough good things you can do to earn that forgiveness.
It is a gift of God.
And likewise, certain sins won’t keep you out.
It’s not what you have done in the past, but whether or not you have given to Jesus what you have done.
Is this a blank check to sin & then just ask forgiveness? No.
That’s why Jesus said to the woman that He didn’t condemn her either & sent her on her way with the command to “Go and sin no more”.
         We do good works after we have been pardoned for our sin…
we don’t do good works to earn the pardon.
God specializes in taking the worst & transforming them into His trophies of grace
         God loves to take people who have made a mess of their lives & get them all cleaned up.
You see the real test of what we believe is what it does to us & how we are changed.
If a person has a real encounter with Jesus…
like the adulterous woman did…
         If we could put ourselves in the sandals of the adulterous woman…
how awesome would it be to have heard the words from Jesus’ lips, “Neither do I condemn you… go & sin no more”?
Have you experienced those words in your life?
You are forgiven… go & sin no more…

         We call it being saved from your sins.
It’s like a burden has been lifted.
That is what Jesus can do in your life.
Jesus will do it for anyone…no matter what you have done…
if you will give Him your failures, your sin, your dreams, your life…
give everything to Him & you will never be disappointed.

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