Summary: the sermon parallels the physical adultery of the woman and the spiritual adultery of the Pharisees
As I was preparing this message on the woman taken in adultery, I really wanted to focus only on the woman and not anything about the Pharisees. However, the more I studied the passage the more I came to understand a message there I had never seen before.
Turn with me to John 8:1-11. (Show video from the church library instead of reading the passage.)
For the sake of those who are unfamiliar with this story, let’s review some basics.
A. What time of day is it? Verse 2 “at dawn”
B. Where did this happen? Verse 2 “in the temple court”
C. What was Jesus doing there? Verse 2 “teaching the people”.
D. Who disrupted the teaching? Verse 3 “The teachers of the Law and Pharisees”
E. Why did they do that? Verse 4 they had caught a woman in the very act of adultery and brought her to Jesus for Him to pass judgment. John tells us this was a trap
Verses 5, 6 tells us how this was a trap for Jesus. If Jesus said she should not be stoned according to the Law of Moses, then He would be violating the Law and lose respect of the people.
If He said she should be stoned, then He would get in trouble with the Roman Government, because they were the only ones with that authority. These religious leaders felt they had come up with the perfect trap to discredit Jesus.
F. What did Jesus do? Verse 7 Jesus said “If any one of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone”. The Mosaic Law required that the person who accused someone of wrongdoing had to be the first one to throw the stone. However, Jesus added the requirement that the person throwing the first stone had to be “without sin”.
As you can see from verse 9 not even the arrogant Pharisees could claim perfection. Jesus is the only person who is without sin and could have cast the first stone; yet, He chose not to do that.
We know so little about this woman, but most historians believe she was a prostitute. If she was one, then it would have made it easier to have caught her in the very act of adultery.
The second reason we believe she was a prostitute is the statement Jesus made to her in verses 10, 11. Jesus instructs her to leave her life of sin. I like the emphasis the NIV gives to this phrase indicating this was a lifestyle for her. It is believed this was not a “one night stand” or an occasional fling, but her everyday lifestyle.
Although adultery is glorified by the media as something that will put the spice back in your life, I know from counseling others that adultery is a terrible, destructive act which shatters marriages and lives. Maybe you have experienced this yourself on one end or the other. The outrage, hurt, injury—the ultimate feeling of being betrayed is incredible. The guilt of seeing what the act did to your spouse is unbearable.
We are breaking the heart of God when we worship other gods.
Please turn to Matthew 5:27-30 READ.
Jesus raised the bar moving the standard from only a physical act to one in the mind and heart.
Jesus did not condone her sin, but forgave her. Whatever sin you have committed, Jesus will forgive you too.
When Jesus forgives us and saves our soul, He expects us to leave our sinful habits and lifestyle. In this specific case this woman was committing adultery or having sex for hire. What sinful attitude or behavior should you quit to honor Jesus with your life?
The Pharisees were committing sin by their judgmental and critical attitudes. They were filled with arrogance and pride and prejudicial attitude “that I am better than you are”.
If this was not bad enough it was revealed to me the Pharisees were guilty of one more sin, spiritual adultery. They accused this woman of physical adultery, but they were committing spiritual adultery. They were worshipping the Law more than they did Lord God Himself.
Any previous time I have studied this passage of scripture, I focused on the sinful lifestyle of the woman or the arrogance of the Pharisees. Then the Lord revealed to me that both groups committed adultery --- one physical and the other spiritual.
This problem of spiritual adultery is not a new one in scripture. The prophet Hosea knew it all to well when God told him to marry a woman who was a prostitute and committed adultery. Then the Lord had him to write and preach to the people out of his own pain. The people were worshipping other gods and this was spiritual adultery.