Summary: We can learn from Jesus' actions how to respond when we are confronted with the sins of others.
God of the Second Chance
Scripture Text: John 7:53 – 8:11
Introduction: How many of you would be honest enough to say that you gave blown it in the past? Sure, we all have because we are all sinners? Now, when you blow it, how great does it feel to get a second chance? Whether it’s a relationship, a project at work, or an assignment at school, it’s an amazing thing to have a second chance to make it right.
Last year I had an awesome opportunity for a second chance. I’m now in my last year of seminary and have almost completed my MDiv. As one of my requirements I had to take some counseling classes. About halfway through my first counseling class I got behind and was not able to finish the final project. Even with an extension from my prof. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off so I emailed him and told him I would just take the F for then and retake the class in the fall. He agreed with my plan and told me to ask the school for an Academic Replacement when I finished the class the second time. When it was granted the school removed the F and replaced with the A I received on the second attempt.
That is huge, and it is exactly what God did for me through Jesus. The Bible says that I came to God dead and in bondage because my sin, yet through the cross He offered me a second chance. In the same way that my school allowed me to replace a bad grade with an A, God allowed me to replace death with life, captivity with freedom, bleakness with hope, and separation from Him with a promise that He will never leave or forsake me.
That same second chance is offered to all who will receive it, and that is the focus of our passage. We will see how freely He offers Himself to those who have blown it, and we will also be challenged to imitate Christ’s response to a broken world. Because those who have been forgiven much should be the most willing to extend grace and mercy to those who are in need of it.
I. Setting the Stage – 7:53-8:2
The Feast of Tabernacles was the most popular of the three major Jewish feasts. The feast lasted for seven days and during that time people would have lived in booths outside of their homes. Many were loosely constructed and placed in courtyards or on the roofs of their houses. The festival was a time to celebrate the harvest and God’s provision for His people while they fled from Egypt. The description of the festival can be found in Leviticus 23:33-43. This very well could have led to a vacation, or Spring Break, type of atmosphere making it relatively easy for the Pharisees and Scribes to find the bait for their trap. Along with the contribution of the atmosphere, the booths would have made catching a couple in the act of adultery a little more likely, although the whole incident was probably a set-up.
Chapter seven ends with the conclusion of a teaching session by Jesus after which we are told that everyone went home. Jesus, however, went to the Mount of Olives. Very early the next morning Jesus was found once again in the Temple courts teaching a crowd that had assembled.
II. Setting the Trap – 8:3-6
The lesson is interrupted as a group of Pharisees and Scribes burst into the crowd and shove a woman right into the middle of it claiming to have caught her in the very act of adultery. As she stands there embarrassed, trying to not make eye contact with the crowd her accusers shout her sin for everyone to hear. Then they ask what Jesus thinks they should do citing that the Law says she should be stoned. At this point John tells us that this is all a trap. These men are not looking for justice; instead they want to pull Jesus into a snare.
It’s ironic that these men cite the Law of Moses because they were not following it themselves. Had they been looking for justice here there was a proper way of handling the situation. The woman should have been taken first to her husband and then to the Jewish court. They also failed to bring the man who was involved. Though it is possible that he was able to flee from the scene it is more probable that he was in on the plan and therefore not submitted to the humility of being brought out for judgment. If these men were really looking to follow the Law of Moses it would have been required for both the man and woman to be judged, but again these men were only looking to use her to eliminate their rival (Leviticus 20:10).