20 January 2014

LAY DOWN YOUR STONES


John 8:1-11

Let me start by asking you if you've ever noticed yourself doing this? You see someone, and you judge them right away by their appearance. Maybe they are nicely dressed, they have a nice car, and you think they are a wonderful and successful person. Or you see someone in rip jeans, with a tattoo all over their body, multiple earrings, and you think to yourself "they are someone you don’t want to get near." And yet, by putting labels on people, you limit yourself to seeing them as you think they are, and not necessarily how they really are. We come to a passage that speaks volumes to heart of the natural man and to the Christian at times! Reason being we forget the grace given by our merciful Saviour who died for our sins. I don’t know about you but I find this passage very convicting for the way I treat others at times. The Truth of the matter we are all guilty of sin! We all point fingers at others! We all are guilty of throwing stones at others.

See it hurts when it's on the other foot! When our unrighteousness is pointed out, IT HURTS! This passage or confrontation that Jesus is faced with shows us the love and forgiveness that He displays towards us because of our sin. Let me ask you before we jump into this text! Did you come here with Stones to Throw at Someone Today?
  • Stones of Bitterness
  • Stones of Anger
  • Stones of Hatred
  • Stones of Pride
  • Stones of Prejudice
  • Stones of Revenge

As James 2:13 says “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” If you brought your stones this morning this passage is for you to remind you of the grace that He gives you because of your sin. If you didn’t bring your stones I hope this passage will remind you of the grace you receive every day! This is a confrontation or a scheme to see if they trip up Jesus with their accusations of this woman. First we need to understand something! Sometimes we tend to think of the scribes and the Pharisees as one and the same, but they were not. Who are these Scribes and Pharisee’s? R C Sproul said in his commentary “The scribes were the Jewish theologians who were sometimes called “lawyers” because they were the experts in interpreting the Old Testament law. In other words, “scribe” was a career. By contrast, the Pharisees constituted a party, a movement of conservative religious practice. The term Pharisee means “separated one.” During the intertestamental period, many of the people moved away from zealous obedience to the law of God, so a group of people committed to spiritual, moral, and theological reform banded together in an effort to purify the Jewish community. They committed themselves to zealous and passionate pursuit of obedience to the law, and so they were called “the separated ones,” or Pharisees. They were the Puritans of ancient Israel. But not all Pharisees were scribes. Likewise, not all scribes were members of the party of the Pharisees.”

So what do we see here in this confrontation? Jesus is teaching in the temple which is normal! Then all of a sudden [rudely I might add] a group of leaders barge in with a woman who according to them….caught in adultery! This is big! According to Mosaic Law we read………"If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. "If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones,…..” Deut 22:22-24. Let’s stop and ponder the words by the religious elite “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.” (v4) Hang on a minute there! You cannot read this, without asking yourself, "Where is the man in this adulterous union?" They had been caught "in the very act," and yet only the woman is brought before Jesus. It’s interesting that some of the commentators suggest that perhaps they knew the man. Perhaps, he may have been one of their very own………and they let him go.

In reality we do not know. But this indicates that a double standard was very much in effect in those times, just as it is today. In any case, the scribes and Pharisees did not bring this woman to Jesus because they were zealous on this particular morning to uphold the law against adultery. They didn’t bring her because they were outraged by her behavior and wanted Jesus to clean up Jerusalem. In John’s gospel it’s very clear about their motive “they were testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him” (v. 6a) Can you imagine someone who was truly zealous for the things of God using a person in this kind of a situation to destroy the Son of God or someone you know or love? R C Sproul said in his commentary on this passage [this is important to know] “The Romans permitted significant self-rule in the nations they conquered, but they did not allow vassal nations to exercise the death penalty in capital cases. If someone was to be put to death for a crime in a Roman province, it had to be done through the Roman judicial system. That’s why Jesus was sentenced by Pontius Pilate and not by Caiaphas. The people, who followed Jesus, hated the Roman occupation, so the sly scribes and Pharisees laid a clever trap for Jesus. If Jesus were to say, “Stone the woman,” they would run to the Roman headquarters and say, “This teacher is advocating that we exercise capital punishment without going through the Roman system.” That way they would get Jesus in trouble with the Romans. But if He were to say, “Don’t stone her,” they would run back to the Sanhedrin and say, “This Jesus is a heretic because He denies the law of Moses.” No matter how Jesus answered the question, He would be in serious trouble”

So here they stand before Jesus to get his advice or opinion with the hopes to finally catching Him, so they can arrest Him! With a woman who has been humiliated, terrified about to be stoned. So what does Jesus do in this situation? I love this………..the bible says “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” (v6) Some theologians speculate Jesus wrote…….Jeremiah 17:13 which says “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.” Others say maybe he wrote what he was about to say in (v7) Or maybe He wrote something about being a malicious witness “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” Exodus 23:1. The most popular view is that Jesus wrote the sins of the woman’s accusers. What’s amazing is that these men are stumped! “And as they continued to ask him” (v7a). What does Jesus do? He writes again in the sand, but first He says these words "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." (v7) See, whatever he wrote added with what he said, must have brought conviction to these men because what we see happen next is amazing! These men dropped their stones beginning with whom? The oldest to the youngest! See older people have more sin to remember and reflect upon! There was only one person there who was without sin and qualified to carry out the Law of Moses…………….Jesus. He was the author of that Law, and He would have been perfectly just to carry out the penalty. But we also learn that He also had the sovereign right to have mercy on whomever He would.

And so looking up and seeing no one left to condemn her, He said, “Neither do I condemn you.’ ” But He added, “‘Sin no more.’ ”
  • This isn’t about the Scribes and Pharisee’s
  • This isn’t about adultery?
  • This is about the gospel and grace He gives each and every one of us daily, minute by minute.

The reason I say that! We all adulterous at heart! You might be thinking “no Mike, I’ve never committed adultery on my wife or husband or my boyfriend, girlfriend.” Listen to what Jesus said "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:27-28. Every one of us are guilty of this [with the exception of our younger children] they still say “that’s gross” when they see guy without his t-shirt on! In all honesty! We are like this woman who was brought before Jesus! Today we don’t see it in the same light at adultery! Here’s a list of heart-probing questions (taken from Tim Keller) to help you diagnose your spiritual “other lover” – the thing in your life you’re giving yourself to in the way you should only give yourself to God.
  • What do I worry about most?
  • What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that life was no longer worth living?
  • What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  • What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  • What do I lead with in conversations?
  • Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  • What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  • What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  • What is my hope for the future?

Jesus wants all of your life ………Not just Sunday or when you need Him! He is either Lord of your life or He isn't Lord at all. See James 4:4 says “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world [not the world as a whole but the world system of doing things] is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We as Christians must put away our selfish desires that prevent us from being all that God wants us to be. This is why the Gospel is so amazing and beautiful! Because what Jesus said to this woman is the same thing He says to me and you when you embraced the gospel truth. “Neither do I condemn you.’ ” But He added, “‘Sin no more.’ ” What does that mean? Don’t do this anymore. Be done with this kind of life. Go now in your forgiveness, and sin no more. Those who are forgiven should gladly put aside their sinful ways and walk in newness of life because of what Christ did on our behalf. How can we who are dead to sin go back into what we have been freed from? Rom 6:6-12 say “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.”

Our desire is not to sin………..shouldn’t it? If you can’t relate to those words, then your heart has been hardened, because each one of us comes to God like this woman, guilty, ashamed, naked, and exposed. But the beauty of the gospel is that Christ clothes us with His righteousness, covering our nakedness and shame, and says to us, “Neither do I condemn you.” Why? Because our sin was placed on Christ when he bore our wrath and judgement by the Father. As Shai Linne said in song “Jealous God” “God took His jealous anger out on His Son, so all those trust Him can see like we're supposed to see and be forgiven for our spiritual adultery!

The gospel is filled with grace for sinners like this woman…….like you! There is a story about a girl by the name of Christina, and she lived in Brazil. She wanted the bright lights of the city, as many teenagers do - and she used to talk about it, and fantasise about it, and torture her Mum about it. One day Maria, her mother, went into the bedroom in the morning to waken her for school, and she was gone - clothes taken with her. This is what Maria did: she went and packed a bag, she went down to the bus station and got a ticket to Rio de Janeiro where she believed Christina had gone. Then she went into a kiosk in the bus station, and took as many photos as she could afford of herself, one after the other and put them in a bag. She got the bus, got to Rio de Janeiro, and spent as many days as she could afford with those photographs, putting them all over the place - in phone booths, foyers of restaurants and hotels, toilet mirrors - with the hope that Christina, somewhere, somehow, would see it.

One day, just like the prodigal son, Christina's money had run out and she had lowered her morals to earn a little more. She was walking down the stairs of one of those hotels, and she saw in the corner of the mirror in the foyer a picture of her mother. Her eyes began to fill with tears as she walked up, plucked it down, turned it round, and on the back were these words: 'Christina, whatever you've done, whatever you've been, whatever you've become, come home. Come home'.

That's not just the love of a mother, but that describes the grace of God. Whatever you've done, whatever you've become, wherever you've been, come home. Believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved. Jesus is Speaking to You Today… “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Lay Down Your Stones and….

Hear “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17

Believe “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Rom 10:10

Repent “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” Acts 3:19

Confess “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,” Matt 10:32

Be Baptized “And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

Live Faithfully “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev 2:10

Did Jesus see repentance in the woman’s heart? Like the woman, our sins are known by Christ and will not be hidden when we stand before Him. But He is compassionate toward those who trust in Him. If you have not sought His forgiveness, go to Him now and beg for mercy. Trust me! He will not cast out anyone who comes to Him! Put down your stones and embrace the gospel that saves sinners.

1 comment:

Jim Bererton said...

Wow.

That brought tears to my eyes. May Our Lord and Saviour impart His forgiving Grace to all who read this.

Jim Bererton