Summary: When it come to grace, we are all in the same boat, we don’t deserve it but we desperately need grace.
The Depth of Grace
Text: John 7:53-8:11
1. Illustration: On Sunday, August 16,1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport. 155 people were killed. One survived: a 4-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecelia. News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they assumed she had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the plane crashed. But when the flight manifest was checked, there was Cecelia’s name. This little girl survived because, as the plane was falling, Cecelia’s mother unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go. Nothing could separate that child from her parent’s love--not tragedy or disaster, not the fall or the flames that followed, not height nor depth, not life nor death.
2. Most of us that are honest would agree with the song when it says "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."
3. However, some people get off base in one of two ways:
a. Either they have forgotten just how wretched they were before Christ.
b. Or for some reason they think other people are more wretched than they are.
Propostion: When it come to grace, we are all in the same boat, we don’t deserve it but we desperately need grace.
Transition: In the story of the Adulterous woman, we see...
I. The Ignorance of Grace (7:53-8:6)
A. What Do You Say?
1. This narrative begins with Jesus teaching in the temple early in the morning. His teaching is suddenly and rudely interrupted when the Scribes and Pharisees barge in with a woman in tow.
2. They bring her in the midst of all these people and sit right in the midst of them and says to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act."
3. The Greek construction of the sentence makes it clear that these men are making a legal claim: They possess the evidence the law requires to convict the woman. What evidence do they need?
a. So that suspicious husbands could not accuse their wives unnecessarily, the law required strong testimony from two witnesses who saw the couple in a sexual context: lying in the same bed, unmistakable body movements, and positive identities.
b. The two witnesses had to see these things at the same time and place so that their testimonies would be identical.
c. Such evidence virtually required the witnesses to set a trap. (Burge, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: John, 242).
4. Notice what they say next to Jesus, "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"
a. Now here lies a major flaw in there argument: that’s not all of what the law says.
b. Lev. 20:10 The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.
c. Where’s the guy?
5. John tells us in verse 6 what their agenda was: "This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him."
a. They didn’t care about this woman.
b. They didn’t care about her spiritual condition.
c. They didn’t care about her husband.
d. They didn’t care about her children.
e. All they cared about was making Jesus look bad and themselves look good.
6. They but Jesus in a threefold dilemma.
a. If he said, let her go, He would be going against the Law of Moses.
b. If he said stone her, He would be telling them to go against Roman law which did not allow the Jews to put anyone to death without Roman approval.
c. Most importantly, if He said stone her, He would be going against the whole idea of grace that He had teaching so much about.
7. Notice what Jesus does: "But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear."
a. Over the centuries, scholars and theologians have speculated what Jesus wrote in the dirt.
b. However, for me, the real issue is not what did He write, but why He wrote.
c. Jesus intention in doing nothing was to show how unworthy they were of being heard (Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries XVII, 319-320).
d. In other words, He ignored them.
B. Self-Righteous People
1. Illustration: In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis helps us gain balance when he says, “If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity (sexual sin) as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual. The pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me. . . they are the animal self and the diabolical self; and the diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.” Then he adds, “But of course it is better to be neither ”