TITLE: A STONE’S THROW AWAY
SCRIPTURE: ST. JOHN 8:1-11
Have you ever done anything embarrassing before? Have you ever had an Embarrassing moment in your life? If we are honest, we have all had some embarrassing moments before. The woman found in our text this morning had such an experience. Unfortunately, her embarrassing moment was not something was paraded and seen by many.
• This woman goes from private passion to public spectacle in a matter of minutes
• Imagine being in her shoes
• Imagine being paraded through the streets like this woman
• How embarrassing
I doubt this women ever stopped to think that her sin would be found out. We usually don’t either. Our past can’t be hidden no matter what we think! Word always gets out…somehow. We are reminded in NUMBERS 32:23b “…BE SURE YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT.” God see’s everything we do.
Caught in the Act of Adultery – How Embarrassing.
• Dragged probably in night gown with nothing else
• Taken by force into a public gathering place
• Humiliated by her Sin
• Separated from anyone or lover to protect her
• Judged and sentenced to death without trial by self-righteous leaders
• Placed before the King of Kings who is Pure and Holy
This is how the Apostle John describes the opening scene of one of the most poignant and theological significant passages of scripture. Though the story reads like modern Soap Opera with immoral activities in which the affluent or privileged escape while the less fortunate are punished. Remember she was caught in the act, but only the woman was brought to judgment.
• At the core of this incredible story is what happens when a sinner is placed at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ
• This is the place where every person who calls themselves a follower of Christ has been and needs to go often
• It is also the place where every person must go in order to experience the incredible promise of eternal life
In the text John clearly identifies two different voices that speak to our situation in life —CRITICS and CHRIST.
• The voice of critics CONDEMN – CRITICIZE – DESTROY - MOCK, AND HUMILIATE
• Their method is to use any means available to exploit your weakness and your failures
This narrative begins early one morning when a crowd gathered in the temple courts to hear Jesus teach. The Feast of the Tabernacles has just come to an end, which meant great crowds would still be in Jerusalem. As Jesus teaches, he is suddenly interrupted by a crowd of men surrounding an embarrassed woman. The men are insistent on pushing their way through the crowd until they and the woman are standing before Jesus.
Who were these men? They are “TEACHERS OF THE LAW” and Pharisees. That meant they were well educated, well known, and reputed to be men of wisdom and high moral standards.
• If anyone had a question about the Law of Moses, these were the men who had the answers
• But although they were religious, they were not godly and their intentions on this day are not good
• They are PROUD - SELF-CONFIDENT – ARROGANT – RUTHLESS – CUNNING - AND THOROUGHLY HYPOCRITICAL
• As this narrative makes clear, hypocrites make the worst judges because zeal to condemn often hides an evil heart
It is obvious the Pharisees did not accidently catch a woman in the act of adultery. This was a planned attack to destroy her life and create a trap for the ministry of Jesus. We must be careful of the Critics, never have anything good to say.
• Church Growing – Still Criticize
• Bible Study Growing – Still Criticize
• Excitement in Sunday Worship – Still Criticize
• Pharisees did not like the fact Jesus had a following – they Criticized
• Pharisees did not like the fact followers of Jesus loved the Lord – they Criticized
Look at the text it is clear how they felt about Jesus. Suddenly, a group of Scribes and Pharisees stormed into the Temple, dragging a woman with them. They squeezed through the crowd, forcing the woman to stand in the middle. Then they said to Jesus, “TEACHER, THIS WOMAN WAS CAUGHT IN THE ACT OF ADULTERY. IN THE LAW MOSES COMMANDED US TO STONE SUCH WOMEN. NOW WHAT DO YOU SAY?”
John, in this gospel account, exposes the motive of this mob. They were not really concerned about her adultery and protecting the purity of society in their town. They wanted to trap Jesus by creating a situation where He would have to choose between His message of forgiveness and obeying the Old Testament laws handed down from Moses.
• Just as this adulterous woman had been used by her lovers for selfish reasons - these critics used her for their own personal agenda
• They recognized Jesus was a threat to their little Empire they had built by exploitation of people and false teaching for personal gain
Can I tell you this morning just because you blow out someone else candle, doesn’t make your candle shine any brighter. You can’t build yourself up by tearing someone down. Jealousy will destroy your chance at success before you even have a chance to get started. If you see someone doing well, celebrate them and jump on board. These Pharisees wanted to blow out the candle of Jesus in an effort to make themselves look better or more spiritual.
• It disturbs me to hear Christians bad mouth other Christians
• It disturbs me to hear Christians bad mouth Preachers
• It disturbs me to hear Preachers bad mouth other Preachers
• It does not Add Voltage to your Spiritual Battery
• It actually Drains it
We all face situations where different voices compete for our attention. We fail to recognize the world or the crowd from which we so often seek approval and affirmation really doesn't care about us. We are just tools to be used and discarded as needed to advance someone's personal gain. Like the Pharisees we are all guilty of pointing out the failures of others while ignoring our own in order to advance up the invisible ladder of social status.
If we are not careful we will begin to think that is what our society is all about. We wonder where we fit in and what is our contribution. Our communities become very judgmental as to where we fit in and we desire to be on the cutting edge of judgment. That is why so many spend hours daily on social media – there you can be whoever you want to be. We don’t need to look too far as to being judgmental - just go to Church! We judge people by the –
• Color of their skin
• The brand names of their clothes
• Type of car
• Their accent
• Athletic prowess
• Musical ability
• Religious background
• And the list goes on and on
• Are you a tither?
• Do you have a daily quiet time?
• Do you watch R rated movies?
• Do you attend a Christian school or the pagan public schools?
• Are you Republican or Democrat?
• Are you spirit filled?
• Do you speak in tongues?
• Are you divorced?
When you face situations where the labels we place on certain people instead of the love Christ determines an outcome how do you respond? Don’t get me wrong, I am not nor does this narrative suggest we ignore sin and the damaging affects upon people's lives, but the Scripture does teach that using other people as a stepping stone is offensive to a Holy God. The most offensive sin described in this narrative is not the ADULTERY - It Is The MALICE – ARROGANCE - IGNORANCE of the Pharisees to use the sin, of another person for personal gain while ignoring the sin that resides in their own heart.
• There’s a penalty for our sins – both physical and spiritual
• This adulterous woman deserved death
• She broke the Law of Moses by committing a sin worthy of death – according to the Mosaic Law
++++This passage has often been quoted by those who want to justify their sin. When their sin has been exposed they arrogantly say, "WHO ARE YOU TO CALL ME A SINNER? DON'T THROW STONES AT ME UNLESS YOU ARE WITHOUT SIN." The attitude expressed by the above statement totally misses the point of the story.
• The woman in the story was guilty
• The depravity of the Pharisees did not make the woman any less guilty
• The Law of Moses did call for strict punishment for adultery
Let’s make sure we understand - The Law also provided a way of forgiveness. The Bible contains examples of sinners who repented and received forgiveness.
• Moses killed a man – He received Forgiving Grace of God
• Peter denied Him – He received Forgiving Grace of God
• Abraham lied on Him – He received Forgiving Grace of God
• Thomas doubted Him – He received Forgiving Grace of God
• King David is perhaps the most recognized example, but he is not the only one who escaped the death penalty for failing to keep God's moral code
• God even established cities of refuge for people who had committed murder
This ought to present some questions for us to examine, that we really cannot answer fully.
• Who was the woman?
• Was she Single - Engaged - Married?
• We don’t know
• What previous relationship might she have had with any of these men?
• We don’t know
• Is she very young or is she middle-aged?
• We don’t know
• This text tells us all we know about her - everything else is speculation
How did they catch her in the “act of adultery?” Again, we can’t be sure, but something fishy seems to have been going on.
• The Rabbinic Law was very specific on this point
• Since adultery was technically a capital offense, the law demanded that any accusation be a literal eyewitness testimony
• It would not be enough to say, “I saw them entering the bedroom and then I saw them leave”
• Hearsay testimony would not be accepted for a charge like this
• So how did these men “happen” to catch her “in the act?”
• We don’t know
That leads to a crucial question - where is the man?
• Adultery by definition requires two people
• It is not likely the man somehow escaped, but the woman didn’t
• Perhaps it was a set-up
• Perhaps they talked the man into seducing the woman so they could catch her in the act
• By prearrangement they then let the man go free
• These men didn’t care about the woman one way or the other
• If this is a set-up, they have already caused adultery and apparently would be willing to cause a murder as well
• So great was their hatred of Jesus
one final question -- why did they expose her publicly? there was no need to do that. And there was no need to bring her to Jesus. Clearly, they weren’t simply seeking to punish her. Something much more sinister is at work here.
++++The religious leaders claim to have CAUGHT THE WOMAN IN THE ACT OF ADULTERY. Moses said such a person should be stoned. What would Jesus say to that? It was a trap question, pure and simple.
• To the Jews adultery was a terrible sin
• The rabbis taught that a man should take his own life rather than commit idolatry, adultery or murder
• Evidently this woman is truly guilty of adultery
• Nothing in the text suggests her innocence, and the Pharisees would hardly have been so stupid as to have hauled an innocent woman before the Lord
But that is not the whole story. According to LEVITICUS 20:10 and DEUTERONOMY 22:22, both parties to adultery were to be put to death. DEUTERONOMY 17:5 describes stoning the guilty at the City Gate.
• The stones were like small boulders, designed to cause a quick death
• The First Eyewitness was required to hurl the first stone
• The Second Eyewitness the second stone, and so on
• This laid a heavy moral obligation on the witnesses to tell the truth
By presenting this woman to Jesus, the Jewish leaders hoped to Impale the Lord on the horns of a dilemma.
• If he said she should be put to death, he might be seen as rebellious to Rome since the Jews did not have the right of capital punishment
• If he said she should not be put to death, that would appear to be a violation of the Old Testament and would put him at odds with Moses
• It was a No Win situation
• Either way he would be in trouble, or so they thought
They have finally trapped Jesus, His fate is almost sealed. But Jesus does something strange according to the text - “JESUS BENT DOWN AND STARTED TO WRITE ON THE GROUND WITH HIS FINGER.” There are times in reading the Bible when we wish we had a little more information. What did Jesus write when he STOOPED TWICE to write on the ground with his finger? After all the speculation is over, we simply don’t know the answer. Evidently what he wrote isn’t crucial or we would have been told what it was.
The word for “WRITE” is used only here in the New Testament and can mean something like “doodle” or it can mean to make a list.
• Some have thought he wrote the Ten Commandments to remind the men of their sins
• Others have suggested he wrote the names of the accusers by the Commandments they had broken
• “Sam—Adultery,” “Joe—Murder,” “Jacob—Coveting,” and so on
• Various Old Testament Scriptures have been suggested
• More than one writer has suggested that he wrote in the dust the names of their girlfriends, which does have the advantage of explaining why they cleared the area so quickly
++++Some have even suggested He wrote –
• The name of the local Pastor
• The name of the Moderator
• The name of the Bishop
• The name of the Deacon
• The name of the Sunday School Superintendent
Truth be told, what He wrote is not important at all, but it is the words He spoke that matter: “IF ANY ONE OF YOU IS WITHOUT SIN, LET HIM BE THE FIRST TO THROW A STONE AT HER.” Jesus’ words are meant to remind them of the seriousness of their charges. Motives matter. He is saying, “Before you pick up that stone, take a good look in the mirror. make sure you are morally qualified to put this woman to death. if not, put that stone down.”
• If they testify Maliciously
• If they testify Deceitfully
• They are signing their own death warrant
No doubt these men were troubled by what Christ said.
• They wanted to talk about the woman - Jesus wanted to talk about them
• Our Lord saw the woman’s sin - and He saw their hypocrisy
• Compared to them, she looked almost innocent
• Their sin was far greater because it was couched in terms of Pious Religiosity
• In the end, there was more hope for this sinful woman than for these conniving Pharisees
• Having been caught in the act of adultery, she was closer to the kingdom than they were
• She doesn’t deny her sin - they don’t admit they have any
• They were so convicted that they began to disappear one by one
• Perhaps the oldest left first because they had more sin to account for
• They knew they were not innocent
Note with me Jesus tells the woman to stop sinning and walk in his light.
• He does not excuse her sin by referring to her difficult childhood or for having an abusive husband
• Jesus does not defer to the victimization that is so dominant in our culture where no one takes responsibility for their sin
• He doesn't even ask who the man was with whom she was committing adultery, so the punishment would be fair
• He doesn't call what the woman did a personal choice that is just different than what He would prefer
• The Lord Jesus identifies her actions as sinful
• And Says – GO AND SIN NO MORE
So my brothers and sisters we must be careful today because each of are just A Stone’s
Throw Away. I don’t know why we are so hard on one another when we fall into sin. We are just A Stone’s Thrown Awa.
--When Opportunity Partners with ‘You Won’t Get Caught’ – A Stone’s
--It is not that she looked so good or he talked so smooth that caused us to cheat on our spouse
--Opportunity Partnered with ‘You Won’t Get Caught’ – A Stone’s
--We didn’t mean to Embezzle but Opportunity matched ‘You Won’t Get Caught – A Stone’s
--That’s why when we hear someone strong in the Lord committed an Unbelievable Sin
--And we respond “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY DID THAT”
--A STONE’S THROW AWAY
--We are not above Sin
--I am not justifying Sin
--Even when we fall, we can still walk in the Grace and Forgiveness of the Lord
--Because Ultimately We are All
-- A Stone’s Throw Away