What is your goal in life? What do you hope to accomplish by the time your life ends? Life is such a precious thing and yet we many times squander it on petty activities. We use our lives as we see fit and in most of those cases we find that our time could have been used better. Do you have any steps to that goal? Have you made any progress? Maybe you are looking in the wrong direction for your purpose and life goal? We have this habit of living day to day and never looking for a greater purpose or meaning. Listen and see one episode in the ministry of Jesus. Look at the characters and how they interacted.
DRAMA: Jesus walks in and sits down on the stage where he can be seen and begins some basic teaching on serving God verses serving money. Soon the Pharisees bring a woman and throw her in front of Jesus.
[Pharisee] – “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the first five books of our Bible we are commanded to stone such women; what then do you say?”
[Jesus] – stoop down and start writing on the ground because of the foolishness of their reasoning…
The Pharisee should be very snooty and uptight!
[Pharisee] – “Come on and give us an answer. You are a great teacher. Shouldn’t you know? The entire crowd here wants to hear how you would handle this situation. What do you do with sinners such as this?”
Jesus should stand up to face the Pharisee in the eye and confront the crowd
[Jesus] – “The person here who does not have any sin and has never sinned, you throw the first stone.” Stoop down and continue playing in the sand…
The Pharisees should leave one by one starting from oldest to youngest with deep and thoughtful looks on their faces…Jesus should then stand up and look around and then at the woman.
[Jesus] – “Woman, where did everyone go? Not a single one threw a stone did they?
[Woman] – “No one, Lord. They have all left.”
[Jesus] – “I will not condemn you either. Go and from now on stop sinning the way you have. Your sin has been forgiven.”
This story found in John 8 depicts as you have seen, three different people in three very different walks of life. Two of those three had the same problem, just different perspectives. The last one stood between the two, trying to help each understand the truth of the situation and the truth they needed for life. Each of these three has their own story and lesson.
The Pharisee – “Has It All” – Not Like Them
The Pharisees and scribes are at the top of the caste system in the later years of Judea and Israel itself. The Jewish religion still ruled the region and ruled the actions of the people. They had the entire Old Testament in their hands and knew it by heart. These were the men that showed up in front of Jesus with an ashamed and embarrassed girl. They had even caught the girl in the act of promiscuity. What were they doing finding this girl doing this? Maybe the girl had come to one of them at their request and they found this to be a convenient opportunity to test Jesus. Maybe they were one of the ones getting involved in the promiscuity. However they found this woman, they brought her to test and see if Jesus would break the Law given to Moses. Jesus refuses to answer them and so they get frustrated and flustered and demand an answer from Him. They had to catch Him this time, how could he not admit the supremacy of the Law of Moses without denying that God wrote it? How dare he ignore such important men?! They were nothing like the sinner that they had placed before Him.
These men would have watched the news about people rioting for food and electronics and say “I am glad I am not like them.” Man, who could get so desperate that they would attack someone for a laptop. They would see the drunk walking down the sidewalk and go across the street because they could never be associated with someone like that. “I am not like that, I don’t drink until I am plastered. I am a good person. I don’t drink, smoke, or cheat on my spouse.” These men show up at church and sit in their spot each and every week, proud that they have made it once more. They shake hands with their friends and neighbors and act quite friendly. They sit during the service singing and listening to the preacher. Once the service is over they say their goodbyes and leave to meet again next week. They think of how the sermon really should help so many others. Yes, they are good people. They have it all. A good house, spouse, money, and can indulge their wants.
Jesus says only one thing to them, “The one of you who has no sin, you throw the first stone.” Pharisees, realize that you have missed the mark just as much as anyone else. You need the same forgiveness. You need the same love that God has to offer. You have missed the purpose that God has put you on earth for. He did not put you here to feel superior and condemn others. He didn’t put you on earth to hear about the love and forgiving nature of God and not tell others about it. He sent you to tell and show others about the love of Jesus. You aren’t righteous. You are a sinner just like this woman don’t you understand? For every one of you who sit in these pews from week to week don’t you understand...? Jesus Christ is the only way to forgiveness. You can’t do it yourself and coming to church doesn’t magically get you to heaven. How many people don’t have Christ because you chose to keep it to yourself? How many times have you seen someone or something on T.V. and said “I’m not like that.” Stop crucifying Jesus! He died once for your sins. Just as the Pharisees here realized they weren’t any better than the sinful woman so you too should check your heart because we are all sinners saved by the grace of God through the death of Jesus Christ! None of us would be this way. No.
The Woman – Desperate for love – seeking some solace
The second character in this story comes in the form of the woman who was thrown at the feet of Jesus in the middle of the Temple courts. She would have sat there with short hair and a few rags wrapped around her. Who knows how she had found herself doing what she was doing. Maybe she had been abandoned by her family. Maybe she didn’t feel loved and cared for and so saw no better way to live than to give her body away. Ripped from the bed and home at which she was staying that night, she now found herself crying and alone in the midst of the “righteous men” of the country. No one truly loved her. When her eyes were looked into, an emptiness resembling the vacuum of space would have been found. Her life now sat in the hands of the gentleman in front of her. He had a kind and caring disposition to him. He actually seemed to be ignoring them and her for that matter. Finally he gave a judgment which surprised even her. They all began to leave. Does that mean she’s free? No one could condemn her and the one that could choose to forgive her. What does this mean?
The woman would have been one that sat in the temple district. Most likely she was a temple prostitute. Desperate to make enough to live. No husband and no hope of getting out. She has been completely consumed by the world around her. If only she could find some safety and solace, she might be able to get past her life situation. She is one of the ones looked down upon as the “unfortunate” instead of someone who needs the love and help of Jesus. Her need to be needed keeps her locked up in her lifestyle of sin. She could look like just about anyone. Unfortunately her sin is one which can be easily seen by everyone but it’s no different for those who have secret sins. Sin slowly but surely eats away at their souls, consuming their very identity until they are so immersed in sin that escape seems impossible. She is just one of many with sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, hating, outbursts of anger, jealousy, envy, greed for money and time, pride, bitterness, worrying, etc. Whatever sin can be had, a person will feel the same effects of this woman, especially being thrown in front of the “righteous men” of the Pharisees.
Jesus had a totally different tone with this woman. Jesus levels the playing field between this person with sin and the “righteous men.” This woman and those men who thought they were righteous were equal in the eyes of God; they were all sinners who needed the forgiveness of Christ. Jesus tells the woman, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.” Your sins are forgiven and those men have nothing on you. You are all equal. Now that you have been through this, stop sinning the way you have and change your life.” Understand that today you have dodged death and that this is your one chance to change your life for the better. Understand that today may be the only day you get to sit here in a church and find Jesus Christ. What if you walk out of the door and get hit by a car? You don’t know what could happen to you. How long will you go wading through the sin in your life and not seek the forgiveness of Christ? Jesus wants more than anything to take away your sin and guilt. He wants to remove your sin of sex outside of marriage. He wants to remove all of that weight from your shoulders. Yeah I know sometimes the righteous men set bad examples and I am sorry they and I myself sometimes do but that is no reason you cannot accept the perfect Jesus Christ into your life and have your sins taken as far as the east is from the west. You will be pure and holy. God’s child who will have no sins on her record. In God’s eyes you will be pure and white as snow! Throw your life in front of Jesus just as the woman was thrown in front of Him. Let Him make the judgment on your worth.
The Savior – Jesus Christ – Love & Forgiveness
There is just one more person in the story; the man making the judgment call about the sinful woman and the Pharisees. Jesus Christ stood that day as a pillar of light and strength in the temple. He taught with conviction and authority because he had come directly from God. Everything about him displayed a sense of control and awareness that had no reason to get excited. Multitudes of people would gather around Him everywhere he went. He as just barely old enough to be considered an adult much less a teacher in the synagogues and yet he was wise and knowledgeable. The Pharisees had tried multiple times to catch him off guard and trick him. This episode was no different than all the other times. Soon a woman would be thrust in front of him. It wasn’t his responsibility to make a judgment on her. He hadn’t come to judge the world. He had come to save it.
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, "Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!"
This same meek and mild man was beaten and destroyed. His whole body bruised and bleeding hung on a cross to suffer and die. He did all this so that God in heaven could say “CURFEW SHALL NOT RING TONIGHT!” He did it for you. Don’t you understand that Jesus loves you? Don’t you understand how much he gave for you? He died for you. He jumped on the grenade so that the whole platoon wouldn’t die. He did everything he could to help you! He pardoned the woman’s sins. He can pardon you. He opened the hearts of men who had been calloused by being “religious.” He can open your heart too. A perfect man paid your bill.
Jesus loves you. He loved you so much that he put his own life on the line to pay for you. What will you do Pharisees? Will you keep your pride and your religiousness and not change? Will you realize you are just another sinner like the woman? Will you keep Jesus to yourself or will you share him? Maybe you feel more like the woman; helpless in your sin and needing a way out. Struggling to get the next breath to keep going until someone will come to rescue you. Jesus is the life boat you need. Maybe you feel that you don’t fit in those two categories. If you do not, then you better be acting like Jesus. If you don’t fit then I remind you of this thought “You may be the only Jesus these people see. ACT LIKE IT!” Jesus loves you. He pardons your sins if you will only ask. Please ask today! You may not have a tomorrow. Please understand that Jesus and I want nothing more than you to know Him. Please don’t leave without Jesus today!