Summary: Sermon #7 in the John Series from John 8 deals with Jesus encounter with the religious leaders in the Temple in Jerusalem
John’s Gospel #7 Sticks and Stones
CHCC: March 2, 2008
Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. This section of John begins and ends with people ready to throw stones. In the beginning of our text for today we notice that the Jewish leaders brought in a woman caught in the very act of committing adultery, but rather than judging her themselves, they brought her before Jesus hoping to trap him in some way. From the nature of what happened here we know this was a set up from the “get go” If it had been legitimate, the male adulterer would have been brought in as well since he was as guilty as she was, and being caught in the act of adultery means some man was definitely in the same area where she was caught. Jesus was asked a question by the Jewish leaders, but rather than speak to them he simply bent down and began to write something in the dust. We’ll never know what he wrote, but what ever it was it had an impact on the gathered mob. He stood and said simply, “Let the man among you without sin cast the first stone.”
Now, there is a particular protocol among groups of Jewish men that calls for the eldest in the group to give their input first, then each is given his turn according to their age from eldest to youngest. This is the order in which the men in the mob left the scene dropping their rocks one after another going from eldest to youngest. I must admit, I was surprised to notice that the courtyard of the temple had dust to write on and large rocks of the kind used by angry groups wanting to stone someone to death. At any rate, the stones dropped by this group of men, lay there available for another angry group to pick up and threaten to throw at Jesus a short time later. (Or at least that’s the view we have from the Mel Brooks version of the movie about Jesus.)
At the beginning of John 8 people are gathered around a woman caught and adultery ready to stone her, and at the end they are ready to throw stones at Jesus. In between the Jewish Religious Leader throw a lot of WORDS at Jesus.
1. Where is your Father?
Chapter 8 has more to say than we have time for today, but I want to simply take a look at the questions the Jewish leaders asked Jesus and the responses he gave them to those questions. Looking at vs. 19 we observe this question:
19Then they asked him, "Where is your father?"
This question comes in response to the fact that Jesus repeatedly referred to his Father and repeated the message of his close connection to his Father. Because this was his consistent theme, they asked a question that was actually a not-so-veiled slam on his reputation. Since his mother claimed Jesus was begotten of the Holy Spirit, some may have whispered that Jesus was more likely a child begotten by a Roman Soldier, an assertion not necessarily provable in history, but certainly the kind of rumor unbelievers could easily come up with. When Jesus spoke lovingly of his heavenly Father, their response was not so much to ask of the location of his father, but a question more like what we hear these days, “Who’s yer daddy?”
These were not legitimate questions. The Jews were trying to trip him up and stir things up. This question came from rumors about his illegitimate birth and from the fact that he called God his father. Jesus answers their insults by saying:
"You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also. 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come."
21Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come."
22This made the Jews ask, "Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ’Where I go, you cannot come’?"
23But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."
The way Jesus spoke about his Heavenly Father is the way one might expect the authentic messiah to speak about Father God, but the unbelieving Jews were incensed by each statement of relationship Jesus asserted. Jesus was being honest and transparent about his relationship with God, but those listening to his words didn’t buy into anything he said. At one point they even called him a Samaritan (vs 48) indicating that they judged his real father to be far removed from Father God. They wouldn’t allow him to claim relationship to either Father Abraham or to Father God. The fact that he had spent time teaching at Sychar in Samaria was proof to them that Jesus had to be a half breed thereby disqualifying him from possibly being the legitimate messiah. They concluded that Jesus had the wrong pedigree.