Summary: #24 in series. Christians in today’s sexually permissive society often face the challenge of how to deal with those accused of a sexual sin. It feels as if we are given the choice of either being too hard on sinners or too soft on sin.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 24
“How To Hate Sin and Love Sinners”
Our story begins early one morning when a crowd had gathered in the temple courts to hear Jesus teach (8:2). “Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.”
The Feast of the Tabernacles had just ended which means there would still have been great crowds in Jerusalem. As Jesus teaches, he is suddenly interrupted by a crowd of men who drag a woman into his presence.
Let’s see if we can picture the scene. A group of men insistently push and shove their way through the crowd until they (and the woman) stand before Jesus. The woman is red faced with embarrassment, and her hair and clothing are in disarray. And it is hard to discern whether she is more scared or angry.
First, The Accusation of the Accusers (10:4-7)
In verses four and five they present their case, “they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. (5) Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
Christians in today’s sexually permissive society often face the challenge of how to deal with those accused of a sexual sin. It feels as if we are given the choice of either being too hard on sinners or too soft on sin.
It might surprise you to find out that some of the earliest of the New Testament manuscripts do not include this story. And even some modern Bible scholars are not quite sure what to do with it. In the Revised Standard it’s in a footnote to John 8. The New English Bible puts it as an addendum at the end of John. But the King James Version does include it and personally I believe that John wrote it and that it is in its correct place in his Gospel. I believe that the story has not been accepted by some because they thought, incorrectly, that it made Jesus looks easy on sin. Apparently some early Christians were embarrassed by this phenomenal display of God’s grace
So what’s the problem? The problem is how to respond to those who have sinned. The great Bible scholar F.B. Meyers said, “It is a terrible thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of his fellow sinners.” How do we respond when faced with the blatant sinfulness of people today? What do we do and how are we to respond? Americans by the thousands are enthralled by the details of other people’s shame and seem to greedily consume every gruesome tidbit. Why is that? Why are we so enthralled with the details of other people’s sins? Why are we drawn like spectators to a awful car wreck? – it is simple – to feel better about ourselves. We can watch the likes of the “Jerry Springer Show” and feel good about who we are because those creeps are so awful. For the same reason we can also be drawn to preaching that “names sin and bashes sinners”, as long as it is not “our” sin. Now I am all for Biblical preaching and I have no problem calling what the Bible calls sin, sin! Yet I sometimes wonder if what appeals to us about preaching about the sin that is rampant in this world, is because it deals with sin, or because it makes us feel better in the process!
Philip Yancey in his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” comments that this incident from the book of John illustrates that the world is not divided into righteous and unrighteous people but into sinners who admit that they are sinners and sinners who deny that they are sinners. Some sins are secret and hidden, some sins are confessed.
There are several interesting aspects to what this woman’s accusers say. First, we need to recognize that the religious leaders who brought this woman were really neither concerned about this woman or her sin. Verse six reveals that the real truth was that they were looking for a way to trap Jesus into condemning himself. “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” When the rulers of the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to have Jesus arrested by the temple guards (Jn 7:45) they immediately devise a new plot to trap Jesus. They thought they really had Jesus trapped. If He says, “No” he loses; if he says, “Yes” he loses. If he says, “No” he violates the law of Moses. If he says, “Yes” he violates Romans law which forbade the Jews from putting anyone to death.