Summary: We all know the woman caught in adultery, or someone like her. That’s fine, until we realise that we too stand in her place.
[Start to read the story, stop after the scene is set and the woman has been brought before Jesus.]
[I put a picture of a woman on the overhead projector, and I refer to it extensively throughout.]
Let’s have a look at this woman [OHP]. What do we know about her?
Very little! There is very little to go on.
† Had she been brought to Jesus immediately?
† Was she ‘decent?’
† Had she been kept for such a purpose?
† Was she married, or was her boyfriend the married one?
† She doesn’t say anything in her own defence.
† We know she was guilty of adultery.
However, we all know this woman. Adultery, whilst unpopular and not the topic of polite conversation, is very common. Quite frankly, we are all affected by it.
My grandmother was a very prim and proper woman. There was never any question of what she thought about sexual impropriety! However, a few months before she died, she gathered her children -- my mother and uncles and aunties -- and informed them that their cousin was, in fact, their half sister. She had had a ’bit of a fling’ before she got married, and this ’cousin’ was the result!
Look again at this picture. Who do you see there?
Whatever you do, don’t see an innocent face. This woman was guilty. Nobody—least of all Jesus—denied that. You can call her a hussy, a whore or a home-wrecker. It’s all true. Not nice. But true.
There are those here today who have been betrayed by adultery, whose husband or wife have been guilty of an affair. If you have found yourself in that situation, then don’t see this woman’s face. See the face of your husband or wife, or their boyfriend or girlfriend. If you haven’t been directly affected by adultery, who else can you put there?
So often when we hear this story we miss out this important point. Jesus is so gracious and forgiving that we lose sight of the gravity of the situation.
****So what’s wrong with adultery?****
Like most sins, adultery is a sin against God and it is a sin against other people.
I should also point out that adultery can be more than simply having sex. Any type of intimacy that belongs to your spouse shared with another person could be considered adulterous.
**A sin against God.**
Adultery is a sin against God because it makes a mockery of what God has ordained. God intended for marriage to be between man and woman, for life. In coming together as a married couple a man and a woman are joined. God did not intend for that to ever be broken, except by death.
Of course, our world is not perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. In some cases divorce is the least worst of the possibilities that can eventuate. Even then, God only allows divorce because we are imperfect. Divorce is never a desirable thing.
The Gospels don’t record much about this subject at all. However, Jesus does say that divorce is appropriate in the case of adultery. Adultery is such an offence to the God ordained institution of marriage that Jesus allows it as perhaps the only real reason for legitimate divorce.
I don’t want to get into the ethics and the Biblical teaching about divorce this morning. Suffice it to say, however, that the effect of adultery is so far reaching in a marriage that Jesus specifically mentions it as possible grounds for divorce.
**A sin against the person.**
This one seems to be forgotten. Adultery is a sin against other people as well as God.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that having an affair doesn’t hurt anyone. At least, not if they don’t get caught. But that isn’t true. It hurts everyone involved.
It hurts the people concerned. It may not seem like it at the time, but the knowledge of your affair will be with you for life. How are you going to live with your conscience? It’s one of those things that is better out than in. Yet the person who is best placed to listen to you on this issue is the last person in the world you can tell.
It will hurt your spouse. The betrayal involved is enormous. In fact, there are many places in the Bible where God likens idol worship to adultery. We understand that God feels betrayed when we run off after other gods. It is the same thing when we run after other people.
And the ripples flow on. It affects our children, our friends, our family.
****We’re all guilty****
Yet what does Jesus say about this? Like most sin Jesus didn’t regard adultery a sin that you commit. It’s something that lives in our hearts.