Summary: This message looks at the woman caught in Adultery, her past, her present and her future.
Back to the Future
So this was how it would end. Public humiliation and possibly a public death for a private act, an act that they had never been intended to be shared with others and certainly not made public. It had all started out innocently enough, a shared glance, an innocent touching of hands, a long conversation and it ended in with her doing what she never thought she would do. How often had she heard her rabbi warn his congregation that “Sin will always take you further than you want to go it will always keep you longer than you want to stay and will always cost you more than you want to pay.”
But she thought she was in control, but she wasn’t and this was how it would end. Public humiliation and possibly a public death, and the disgrace would not just be hers; it would be shared by her parents and her children.
We all know the story; we read a portion of it earlier from John chapter 8. There are people all the time who use the phrase “Cast the first stone” and have no idea that it is part of the Jesus story. We also hear those guilty of a variety of offences who try to escape judgment by invoking the same phrase.
This is week seven of our Summer series “A Red Letter Summer”. From June to September members of the preaching team here at Cornerstone are focusing their efforts on the Red Letter words in the Bible. And those are the words of Christ. The origins of Red Letter words stretch back more than five hundred years when calendar makers decided it would be cool to print Holy Days in Red so that people wouldn’t miss them. They became Red Letter Days. In 1899 an editor with the Christian Herald magazine came up with the idea to print the words of Christ in red and as they say, the rest is history.
This is one of the great Jesus stories. You are all familiar with it and if not you heard it read a few minutes ago. In an attempt to trap Jesus the religious leaders bring a woman to him for judgment. Not sure they were really interested in justice as much as it was just an opportunity to have Jesus either a) prove that he wasn’t all that interested in extending grace or b) that he wasn’t all that interested in obeying the law of the Old Testament. Either way, the woman was just a pawn.
But instead of playing their game Jesus did what he did so well and he turns the tables on those who were trying to trap him.
When they demanded that he take part in the condemnation of the woman he bends down and begins to doodle in the dust. We have no idea what he was writing, there have been all kinds of theories but that is all they are, theories, because we don’t know. Maybe he was writing names or sins or maybe he was just doodling but to guess would be just that, a guess. But then Jesus looks up and extends one simple test, he tell them, “If you want to judge her that’s fine, but first judge yourselves. What makes you so worthy of being her judge?”
And they all walked away. There have been some who speculate that Jesus was writing the names of girlfriends and indiscretions in the dust but there is no evidence of that. Maybe the religious leaders were simply afraid of what he might be writing. Reminds me of the Mark Twain quote, where he said “I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying ‘flee at once - all is discovered.’ They all left town immediately.” Perhaps it was the religious leader’s guilty conscience that caused them to leave, we will never know this side of eternity. But there are lessons to be learned from the story.