– Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church
The Sermon Passage: John 7:53-8:11
They went each to his own house, 8:1but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7And 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.” 8And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Religion is often not very kind to women.
The Big Idea: Jesus is a friend for sinners: offering not condemnation, but transformation.
Point One: Understand the footnote in your Bible.
The ESV Bible shows this passage in brackets as not included in many early manuscripts. Most scholars are guessing it belongs in Luke’s gospel in the passage ‘render unto ceasar that which is ceasar’s. No reason for us to think is is not inspired by God. Sixth century tradition places this in Johns gospel.
Point Two: Religion makes folks mean (7:53-8:6).
Jesus teaches the common folk in the temple who are flocking to hear Jesus teaching. Pharisees are mean in how they handle this situation. This is not a sin done in splendid isolation-DA Carson quote. Where is the man? Only one is publically humiliated. Vs5 is telling: are you, Jesus, going to go against Moses? This is to test Jesus and trap him. Jews were not allowed to enact capital punishment of death. They had to get Roman permission by law first. On the other hand, if he gives mercy, he violates Moses’ law. Out of meanness, they are trying to catch him. It is not just here life at stake, it is Jesus’ life too.
“The parameters are defined (by the Scribes and Pharisees) in such a way that mercy and justice are made to be opposing principles. This is the modus operandi of religion.” – Gerald Borchert
Point Three: So we can sin that grace may abound!? (8:7-9).
There is no question in adultery if a line to sin has been crossed. She is guilty. In some ways this is not about her but the an excuse for the hatred of the Pharisees to come out. Jesus bestows grace, true grace, which is commonly bent to be misunderstood by all of us masses. However, Romans 6 gives us a clear message: 1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Point Four: Christ did not come to condemn sinners (8:10).
If we are going to make sense of jesus’ response, we have to remember why he came on his first visit. John 3:17+ not to judge but to save. In the Old Testament the main witness was to cast the first stone, if, for example, you saw someone guilty of sorcery but you we not participating in it, then you could throw the stone. When Jesus says that he neither condemns her, he is not justifying what she did but transforming her.
Point Five: Christ came to transform sinners (8:11).
This salvation for sinners like her (which is like each of us really) is immensely costly. He doesn’t tell her not to do adultery anymore but not to sin. He is not saying that she has an area she needs to fix in her life ethically, but he wants to see her transformed in ALL areas of life. This is not about adultery. This is really about our hearts. It is NOT what goes into us that defiles us but what comes out of our wicked hearts that shows how defiled we really are.
Hymn of Response*: Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners