Jesus is at the Temple teaching a large crowd and in the middle of His lesson, the religious scholars ad Pharisees show up and thrust a woman who had been caught in adultery in front of Him, demanding that He pronounce judgment, that He condemn her to the death she deserves for her sin.
According to the Law, she was condemned to be stoned, and they wanted to trap Jesus into saying something that would give them evidence to arrest Him.
Jesus bends down and writes something in the dirt…
- It fascinates me that this little detail is included in the Scriptures. One small sentence in verse 6. No information about what Jesus writes, how long He is bent over writing, but we do know enough time past that they “kept on badgering Him,” while He seemed distracted, busy, unconcerned- or at least unwilling to jump into their drama.
- For years I have wondered what Jesus wrote.
- Was he listing the sins He knew they were guilty of, posing questions to make them think about their heart sins being exposed- naked and on display in the piercing light of day? We don’t know.
Jesus stands up after a while and says, “The sinless one among you, go first. Throw the stone.”
- And then he bent over and began writing again.
- Slowly they began to walk away… oldest ones first. We often become more humble as we age, with the declarations of youth- I would never do that, having been worn away by age, experience and understanding that often things are not as they seem.
The crowd remained, but the accusers drifted away, until there were none.
With no one left to condemn her, Jesus says, He doesn’t condemn her either; tenderly telling her to go on with her living but leave the life of sin.
- Imagine yourself being “caught red handed,” your sin played out in IMAX for the crowd to see, no denying it, deserving of punishment.
- Then imagine yourself in this scene…
I love the gentleness Jesus offers the woman.
It reminds me that in the face of condemnation, self or from others, Jesus has another option.
Forgiveness and freedom.
While Jesus doesn’t equate the woman’s sin of adultery with the sins he challenges the religious leader to assess in their own lives, he treats the reality of sin the same.
We are all sinners. And in being a sinner, we cannot be The Judge.
Only Jesus can be the Judge: the Righteous and Perfect Christ.
Jesus doesn’t deny our sin…
He died for it… for us, that we wouldn’t have to pay the penalty of death we deserve, but instead, we can rise up from our knees, repentant and live in the freedom of forgiveness.
Jesus’ life and death on the cross changes EVERYTHING!
We deserve judgment and condemnation, penalty and ultimately death in the fact of our sin
Jesus died so that we can Live! – Both now in freedom of forgiveness and for eternity with God, clothed in His righteousness alone.
This is the Gospel!
This is the Glory of the Cross. Jesus paid it all!
For my sin, for your sin, for “their” sin.
His command is repent… receive His forgiveness… leave our life of sinning and live!
The choice is ours…
Questions to ponder…
- Have you ever been on the accusing side of this scene? Clearly you have been wronged, another has sinned against you and you want them to pay the penalty?
- Are you able to put down the stones of condemnation that you throw at yourself when you have sinned? Or do you cling to them as a way to punish yourself, rather than receiving the forgiveness and freedom in Christ?
- How do we justify being judgmental of ourselves or others, when Jesus says He doesn’t condemn to death, but rather offers forgiveness for sins?
- Do you ever ‘make yourself pay;’ speaking words of death over your own foolishness, bold sinfulness and beating yourself up, rather than confess and RECEIVE the forgiveness of Christ.
- Have you ever had a stones in your hands, ready to throw stones of penalty in the face of others sins?
view video: Jesus Paid it All (O Praise the One)
Read this sermon on John 8:1-11 by Max Lucado: )
The book: “The Cross of Christ” by John Stott had significant impact in my life when I was learning about forgiveness, the power of the cross and how we handle sin in our own lives and the lives of others.
here it is in pdf form:
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Daniel 13; Psalm 23; John 8:1-11
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 34: Ephesians 1-end