Summary: Three things true of every encounter with Christ
The Woman Taken in Adultery
In one of our favorite passages in the Bible, John 3, Jesus made a statement that you’re all familiar with. He said,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Those are wonderful words of love and hope as God expressed how He felt toward mankind. While we know that verse and find great inspiration in it, it is the lesser known verse that follows that I want to draw your attention to. John 3:17 says,
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
I think perhaps that the truth of that verse isn’t seen as clearly anywhere in the Bible as it is seen in this morning’s encounter with Christ. In John 8:1-11, we are introduced to a woman who experienced the depths of God’s love in such a way that she was instantly changed. Her life hung in the balance, condemnation and the death penalty hanging over her head in a dramatic way, but Jesus offered the woman her only ray of hope. Let’s read the passage and see what happens.
“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
As with all the encounters we’ve studied, I want you to allow your imagination to travel back so that you are standing there with her and Jesus; put yourselves in her shoes, and watch as the story unfolds. Jesus has come into the temple early one morning, and as you can see in verse 2 there was a great crowd gathered around him. I can picture Jesus sitting on a stone or set of steps, with the people sitting around His feet, circled out around Him so they can get a better view. As He was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees came up to Him with this woman. The scribes were a group or society of men who spent their days making copies of the Old Testament, copying and recopying, learning and memorizing it and eventually becoming teachers of it. They knew the Old Testament front and back, like the Pharisees who have come with them, and of course we have met the Pharisees before, this group of religious leaders who was out to destroy Jesus.
Now we don’t know much about this woman other than that she had been caught in the very act of adultery, and I don’t have to explain that to you this morning. I can picture her with a disheveled look about her, tired, and yet anxious. She had probably been drug from bed, hair in a mess, wrapped in a sheet or blanket. We don’t know how they might have emotionally tormented her in the hours leading up to this moment, but we can imagine the shame and embarrassment she must have felt as these men paraded her around, speaking openly about her adultery and now dragging her out into the temple in front of this crowd of people who are sitting in front of Jesus. Put yourself in her shoes today. Suppose you’ve had a long struggle with some sin, let’s say pornography, which no one knew about. If you need help imagining what she was going through, imagine how you would feel if you were brought up in front of our church family this morning and everyone was told about how you had been looking at that wicked stuff. Imagine the shame and guilt you would feel in front of your peers.