Thrown by the Rock
Ever been guilty of wrongdoing? Been sorry? Felt guilty? But to add insult to your injury you were immediately encircled by a hungry camp of wolves? You aren’t the first to be guilty, the first to be entrapped, or the first to be forgiven by the Savior...nor will you be the last!
I like skipping stones on a smooth lake. When done correctly, a rock is thrown...by me. To be clear--in our text, some self righteous people get thrown...by the Rock. Jesus is the Rock, and He lays before some hypocrites a cornerstone of bedrock foundational truth, and when He does, their jaws hit the ground just the same as did the rocks they were once threatening to hurl.
This morning, as we see the forgiveness that Jesus gave the adulterous woman on that day, I want you to examine yourself. You are present somewhere in this story.
You may be like the woman – condemned by everyone and needing forgiveness. You may be like the Pharisees – self-righteous judges of others but unable to see your own need. But hopefully, by the time
you leave today, you will recognize your need to be like Jesus – the one who gave forgiveness when condemnation was justified. Let’s read John 8:1-11.
1. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is not based on my innocence. “caught in the act” v. 4
Have you ever been caught in the act?
"Are you eating the last piece of cake?"
[mouth full] "No!"
ill.--Years ago we bought a used Cadillac Seville. It was nice. So much power, and so quiet. So quiet, in fact, that I didn't realize I was doing nearly 80 in a 55 until lights and sirens went off. I was caught in the very act, and had no defense. The Trooper came to my window, and asked me if I knew why I was stopped. Sure I do, officer, and I'm so sorry, and lovely day we're having, and I hope you're in a good mood! I couldn't get out of it...I couldn't blame the quiet car...I was to blame. “Honey, could you flirt a little?”
Whenever you are caught in the act, there is no point in arguing. The evidence is there. The witnesses can testify to the fact of your guilt. There is no use trying
to blame someone else. The guilt is yours, and you must deal with the consequences.
This woman was caught in the act. She was guilty of the crime. Her accusers were right. She didn’t put up any defense. The only thing that was left to be decided was what they were going to do about her guilt. What was her penalty going to be?
The Bible records that when it comes to guilt or innocence, all of us are guilty of sin. (Romans 3:23) From the time of Adam and Eve until today and on as long as the human race survives, every person that is born will be born a sinner. “All” doesn’t mean me and not you. And “all” doesn’t mean you and not me. “All” means everyone. The forgiveness that Jesus offers to us is not because of our innocence. It is in spite of our guilt. In fact, according to the Bible, admitting our guilt is a requirement to receiving God’s forgiveness. (I John 1:9)
2. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is not limited by the severity of my sin. “adultery”
This woman, who stood before Jesus and the crowd of her accusers, had just committed the act of adultery. The sin that she committed was a serious crime. It is not considered by most to be a serious crime in our day, but it was then. And it still is by God! It was one of many crimes that carried the death penalty. It was ranked right along with murder, kidnapping, witchcraft, & offering human sacrifice.
Can you picture the scene there? Jesus is at the temple, and He was right in the middle of teaching a group of people who were gathered around Him. All of a sudden, Jesus is interrupted by the shouts of many men and the wailing of one woman. It would be comparable to a prostitute being dragged in here by a group of police right in the middle of the message. All that she wants to do is to crawl into a corner and hide. She’s half-clothed, and the clothes that she does have on are about to fall off. Her accusers didn’t even give her time to get fully dressed when they caught her. The last place that she wants to be is near the temple. She feels so ashamed and so guilty. They won’t even allow her to ball up on the floor. She is forced to stand in front of the crowd so that everyone can stare at her. There she is standing there for all to see her and the wickedness of the crime that she had committed. She knew what she had done. And she knew that it was a sin deserving of death. But what she did not yet know was that no matter how severe her sin was, Jesus could still forgive her. (Isa 1:18) "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they shall be as wool."
No matter how severe her sin was, and no matter how severe your sin might be, God’s grace and God’s forgiveness is always greater. Some people will not come to Jesus because they think that they have gone beyond the scope of God’s forgiveness. If God can forgive that woman, and if He can forgive those who put Jesus on the cross, and if He can forgive me, then He can forgive anyone. If you are alive, you are not outside the reach of God’s forgiveness.
Most of the people that I encounter though don’t have a problem with wondering whether or not God can forgive them. Their question is whether or not what they have done needs forgiving. In their own eyes and maybe in the eyes of others, they are good people. But the reason that they see themselves as good people is because they are comparing themselves with other people. “Compared to my neighbor or my brother or the guy I saw on the news, I’m doing pretty good. I’m here in church today, aren’t I.” Do you want to know what other sins were worthy of the death penalty? – striking or cursing parents, working on the Sabbath (that would be the equivalent to working on Sunday in today’s society), using God’s name as a cuss word, rebellion, & pre-marital sex among others. Jesus took it even further when He said that if you are angry with someone, then you are guilty of the sin of murder, and if you lust after a woman, then it is the same in God’s eyes as if you had already done it with her. We might as well just line everyone up against the wall and call in the firing squad right now because we are all guilty.
If I match myself up against you, I might come out looking pretty good. But then again, I might come out looking pretty bad. It just depends on who I want to compare myself with.
2 Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not ... compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
But in His evaluation of me, God doesn’t compare me with other people. He compares me with Himself. Do you know the last part of Romans 3:23 – “. . . and come short
of the glory of God.” That means that in comparison to God’s perfect holiness, I am a wicked sinner.
The woman that Jesus was facing that day – she didn’t need to be convinced of her sinfulness. She already recognized that. What she needed was to understand that God’s forgiveness was stronger than her sin.
3. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is not because He sets aside the requirements of the law. “in the law, Moses commanded . . .” [v. 5]
When I was stopped by the police, I’m sure that when he checked my license, he discovered that I had seldom ever had a speeding ticket. Some officers of the law, having discovered that fact, would have sent us on our way with just a warning. He could have set aside the requirements of the law. He is allowed to do that. But not this guy. He prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I don’t blame him for that. If he is going to be just and fair, then he had to do exactly what the law required. Someone had to pay the fine that my ticket required, and he certainly wasn’t going to do it.
The Pharisees thought that they had Jesus in a position where there was no way that He could get out of a sticky mess. If Jesus set aside the requirements of the law, then they could arrest Jesus for blasphemy and turn the people against Him. If He went along with their plan and stoned the woman, then they could get Him in trouble with the Romans. At that time, the Romans were the only ones who had the right to carry out the death penalty. Jesus was between a rock and a hard place. From all appearances, Jesus had no choice but to do as the accusers suggested.
Did Jesus just excuse her sin and say, “Oh, I can tell that you are sorry for what you did, so just don’t do it anymore, and you will be okay?” When you stand at the gate of heaven, is Jesus just going to excuse your sin? Is He going to say “I know that you really didn’t mean it. So tell you what I’m gonna do – we’ll just pretend that all those things never happened, and I’ll set aside the penalty that you are supposed to bear.” Is that what is going on here? How can Jesus be just and let her off the hook? It is because He took the penalty that she owed, and He placed it on Himself. A year or so after this woman’s encounter with Jesus, Jesus hung on a cross. One of the sins that He paid for as He hung there was this woman’s act of adultery. He paid as if He had done it.
When Jesus offers forgiveness to us, the only reason that He can do so is because the penalty that we owed has already been paid. It was paid by Him. Every lie that you have said, every hateful word that has come out of your mouth, every unkind thought that you have ever held onto, every look of jealousy and envy, every lustful thought – every sin makes you guilty before God. But every one of those sins was placed on Jesus, and He paid for each and every one with His own blood.
1 Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Jesus didn’t set aside the penalty that that woman owed. He paid it.
4. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is the only thing that stands between me and death.
That woman had no one standing with her on that day. The law was against her because of her crime. The crowd was against her because they wanted to destroy Jesus. She was getting ready to face death by stoning. In verse 7, Jesus talks about casting the first stone. Here's the way that stoning happened in Biblical days. The persons who were the witnesses that sealed the fate of the accused would be the ones who would use the first stone against the condemned. They would take a large stone and use it to crush some vital portion of the person’s body – the chest cavity or the head. If the victim survived, then the rest of the crowd would join in with smaller stones until the person was dead. It was a very messy way to die. There was no one to stand between this woman and death – no one except Jesus.
The Bible records in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death” What we deserve because of our sin is the same thing that that woman deserved because of her sin. We deserve death. But you say, “I don’t want to die! I want to live! I know what I’ll do – I’ll bribe the Judge. I’ll give Him something so that He will forgive my crime or at least reduce my sentence. Let’s see, what do I have that the Judge needs or wants? Well, that’s going to be a hard order to fill since the Judge is God which means that He doesn’t need anything, and anything that He wants, he can make for Himself. I guess that I haven’t got anything with which I can bribe God.”
“. . . but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus was her only hope and Jesus was the only thing that stood between her and death. Do you understand that this is true for you and me as well? Your parents don’t stand between you and death. Your spouse doesn’t stand between you and death. Your money doesn’t stand between you and death. Your church attendance doesn’t stand between you and death. Your self-righteousness doesn’t stand between you and death. The only thing that stands between you and eternal death in hell is Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that He provides through His death on the cross.
5. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is evidence of His concern for me as an individual.
Entrapment! v. 6
These leaders were pretending to be such defenders of the law – such champions of justice. They didn’t care about the law. If they cared so much about the law, where was the man that this woman had been caught sleeping with? According to the law, both of them were supposed to die, not just the woman. They certainly didn’t care about her. In fact, some have suggested that she was set-up. They may have planned the whole situation and sent in a man to coax/force her to sleep with him just so that these Pharisees could have the opportunity that was now before them. Their purpose was to destroy Jesus, and the only way they could do that was by destroying that woman.
Now contrast Jesus’ attitude toward her with the attitude of her accusers. Think of what Jesus had to lose by his attitude toward this woman. He had already been accused of being a drunkard and a friend to prostitutes and tax-collectors. The more He championed people like this, the more people might start to question His own morals. If He hung around them, then surely He must participate in their sins. He risked the misunderstanding of the people. If He forgave her sin, then some might take that to mean that sin is not such a big deal. The only thing that He had to gain by forgiving that woman was her love. She was a pawn to the Pharisees, but to Jesus, she was a queen – worth defending and worth sacrificing everything in order to protect.
Do you know how valuable you are to Jesus? Do you know how much He loves you?
10 ... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
You are special and treasured by Him. He made you. He died for you.
6. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is not because He is not qualified to condemn me for my sin. “without sin”
In response to the accusations made against this woman, Jesus did something kind of strange. Look at verse 6 [read 6b-8]. Instead of debating with them, instead of just walking away, He wrote something on the ground. The Bible doesn’t say what He wrote. At first, He may have just doodled with his finger on the ground, almost as if He was saying to them, “Make all the accusations that you want to. I’m not listening.” Some have suggested that He wrote the Ten Commandments on the ground as if to say “Yes, she has broken the 7th commandment, but how are you doing in keeping the other 9?” Maybe he wrote each of their names in the sand with a date beside those names as if to say, “Oh, you thought that the sin you committed was a secret, did you. I know about it. Do you want me to make it public before this crowd just as you are making this woman’s sin public?” In the middle of Jesus’ writing on the ground, He stood back up and made a statement. [read 7b] He said that the requirement for condemning another person for their sin is that the accuser be sinless. I can’t say with any certainty what Jesus wrote on the ground that day. But I know the effect that it had.
If sinlessness is the requirement in order for someone to condemn you, then who is the only one who is qualified to condemn? Jesus.
Jesus made it plain that He was the only one who WAS righteous enough to condemn her.
When Jesus points at your life and mine, and He calls our actions, thoughts and words “sin”, we don’t have the right to argue or rebel against His evaluation. He has that right because He is God and because He faced every obstacle that you and I have faced with the only difference being that He overcame them. But the wonderful thing is this: even though He has every right to condemn us, that is not His desire.
7. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin proves that His desire is to heal me not condemn me. “neither do I condemn you”
There they stood – the accused woman and Jesus. Nothing was left of the shouts and the angry words and those who had spoken them. The only evidence that they had ever been there was the rocks that were scattered on the ground all around them. Jesus had every right to pick up those stones and kill her Himself. But He did not do that.
Why didn’t He condemn her?
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
If God’s purpose was to condemn sinners, then why did Jesus come to earth and die? God’s purpose is not to condemn sinners. His purpose is to heal sinners.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
8. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin does not give me permission to remain in my sin.
“go and sin no more”
Before Jesus and the woman parted ways on that day, He gave her only one piece of instruction. [read vs. 11b] He told her to stop doing what she had been doing that got her in this mess in the first place. Jesus wasn’t talking about sinless perfection. He was talking about repentance. “Stop making sin the habit of your life.”
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Sin is a very big deal. It is such a big deal that Jesus had to give His life to pay the penalty for it. We aren’t required to be sinless before we can be forgiven.
But once we have been forgiven, our goal and our all-consuming passion is to be live holy lives out of love for the one who gave so much for us.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were right about two things on that day. The payment for sin only comes through a death. Either you can pay for your sins with your own eternal death in hell, or you can accept the death of Jesus as payment for your sins. The second thing that they were right about is when you find a person trapped in sin, the only good thing that you can do is to take them to Jesus.
Saved people: Let this be a reminder of how you have been forgiven. When we forget about what we have been forgiven, we either fall back into it, or we lose our
love for the one who forgave us.
Second, let it be a challenge to examine yourself. Are you living a life of sin right now? Is there something for which you need forgiveness? Is there something that you need to leave behind?
Third, let it be an example for the kind of forgiveness that we are supposed to give to one another and to those that are a part of our everyday life.
If you are not a Christian and have never received Jesus’ forgiveness for your sin, then the application to you should be clear. This is an invitation for you to receive forgiveness for your sin and cleansing from your guilt. No sin is too great to be forgiven, and no sin is too small to need forgiving.
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