Summary: In John 8, an adulterous woman encounters Jesus. Her story involves her accusers, her advocate, and her acquittal.
Encountering Jesus (5)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/1/2015
Over the last few weeks, we’ve discovered the stories of four changed lives! They include a scholar, a five-time divorcée, a couple of blind men, and a wee-little tax-collector from Jericho. Each of them was burdened with baggage—the luggage of life. A suitcase of discontentment. A backpack full of shame and regret. A duffel bag overflowing with weariness and rejection. A satchel of greed and ill-gotten gain. Yet, each of them laid their luggage down at the feet of Jesus. Their lives were changed by an encounter with Christ.
Looking at these lives gives us hope because we find ourselves in some of the same situations. We may be caught in the grip of bad choices or living in the backwash of failure. We may be outstanding members of the community but sense an emptiness in life that possessions and position can’t fill. Maybe you’re lugging your own Samsonite suitcase full of sin, shame and regret.
The good news is—Jesus can change us no matter what our life situation. He can give us peace and hope and, perhaps most importantly, grace.
If anyone can tell you about grace, it’s the woman Jesus encounters in John 8. Let me invite you to read this passage with me:
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11 NIV).
An interesting detail about this story—in most Bibles you’ll find it in italics or with a footnote explaining that this particular passage wasn’t written by John. It’s found in many ancient manuscripts, inserted either here or elsewhere in John’s gospel, but it’s missing from the oldest manuscripts. Which means that, at some point, a scribe inserted the story into John Gospel while making copies. My guess is that it was probably one of the scribes who helped drag this anonymous woman from her bedroom. We may never know who penned this portion of Scripture, but I think the Holy Spirit set aside a special place in the Bible for it, because in many ways her story is our story.
In this story, these teachers of the Law had promoted themselves to keepers of the Law and the Pharisees appointed themselves prosecutors. They turned the Temple courtyard into a courtroom, and together they presented their case to Jesus, whom they were hoping would play the role of Judge. As we examine this story more closely, let’s start with her accusers.
• HER ACCUSERS
Nothing is more humiliating than being caught in the act of doing wrong. Whether it’s a child with a hand in the cookie jar or an adult driving over the speed limit, we all know the sinking feeling of being caught. In John 8, this woman is caught in the most humiliating of situations—in the very act of adultery.
Priests slammed open the bedroom door, threw back the widow curtains and pulled off the covers. She scarcely had time to cover her body before they marched her through the narrow streets. And as if the bedroom raid and the parade of shame were inadequate, the men thrust her into the middle of an early morning Bible class!
While Jesus is busy explaining spiritual things to God-hungry hearts, the Pharisees announce, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery” (John 8:4 NLT). Caught in the very act. In the moment. In the arms. In the passion. She is pulled from the bed and pushed into the sunlight in front of Jesus and his students with nothing but a dangling nighty and smeared lipstick.