Summary: This sermon is based on the story of the woman caught in adultery recorded in John’s Gospel. The idea behind the sermon is that the way Jesus handled that situation illustrates how grace works and sets the tone for how believers ought to treat one another
THE ART OF GRACE
At a meeting of church professionals, several issues were discussed, especially as these issues impinged upon the church’s ability to govern itself. One of the issues concerned gender relations and the propriety or impropriety of sexual relationships. A pastor in the group insisted that such conduct must be brought to the attention of the local church board. A lady in the group challenged this premise. “What about stealing?” she piped in. “Should that also be brought to the church board?” Unperturbed, the pastor insisted on his view and made this most stirring comment: “Such mistakes are mundane. The church is not concerned with them. The church is only interested in sex!”
While such remarks may not make the grade with everyone, is it possible that they actually reflect the subconscious, if not conscious, belief of many in the church?
John 7:53-8:2 A Story Begins
Prior to this episode, Jesus had survived a slugfest with the religious leaders of his day. In their total frustration with his soaring appeal, they had planned to silence Jesus forcefully. However, their plans had been rudely derailed. This story begins by telling us that they all returned home that day to lick their wounds and prepare for another battle.
Meanwhile, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. This hill was located just outside Jerusalem and offered sufficient distance and solitude from the hackles of the mob. When dawn came, Jesus returned to his task at the temple, and in doing so rendered himself vulnerable to yet another attack by his detractors.
John 8:3-9 The Duplicity of the Religionists
As expected, it did not take long for Jesus’ protagonists to arrive. Unlike the previous day, there was no frontal assault on Jesus. Instead they launched a backdoor strategy.
Teachers of the Law and Pharisees (vs 3)
The identity of his detractors is made quite clear. The teachers of the law were the theologians of their day. They were the experts on the Torah. They spent all their lives and time studying the Torah, expounding on the Torah, dissecting its most elemental teachings. They were the exegetes of Jesus’ day.
The Pharisees were orthodox religionists. They formed a tightly knitted bunch of men whose religion bordered on the fanatical. They lived in communes and kept away from the rest of the people. The tag, Pharisee, means “separated ones.” They referred to themselves as "chaverim," the brotherhood, and called everyone else "ha‛am" or "laos", the people. They saw themselves as the epitome and guardians of the holiness quest.
Sexual issues were an apparent obsession with these gentlemen. And they saw in this a perfect foil for the gospel of grace that Jesus taught. In an apparent case of entrapment, they brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. Their cause seemed so just! “Teacher, we have caught this woman in adultery!” (vs 4)
Their shameless duplicity however is clear for all to see. It takes two to commit adultery, yet no mention is made of the woman’s partner. Where was he? Was he influential? Was he one of them? How do you catch someone in adultery? Were they peeping Toms? We cannot help but smell a rat in this case. Jesus apparently did!