Summary: An adulterous woman, a self-righteous crowd, or a forgiving Savior - which one do you identify with? They all teach us about forgiveness.
March 5, 2000 John 8:1-11
“To stone or not to stone?”
I hold in my hand something that strikes fear into the hearts of most people. [hold up a 10-40 tax form] The date on which everybody makes a mad dash to the post office to mail in their tax returns at the last minute is fast approaching. For some of you, this time of year is a good thing. You get a refund. I used to be among that group. I sat down to begin the process of doing our taxes the other day. It was discouraging. Between Tammy and me, we have 5 different W-2’s. Once I had gone through the process of putting in all the preliminary figures, I discovered that unless I can find some more deductions, we are going to end up owing between 15 and 16 hundred dollars. Tax time is not a pleasant time of the year for me.
Here recently, I have seen several ads on TV that talk about programs that are now available whereby persons can get forgiveness or at least reductions for past debts owed to the federal government from unpaid taxes. If you cannot pay the debt that you owe, they are apparently willing to forgive some of the debt, let you work out a payment plan for the remainder, and get a fresh start.
On a day in Jesus’ life, there was a woman who was brought to Jesus by the ruling authorities. This woman was a debtor. The debt that she owed was so high that there was no way that she could ever repay it. But the debt that she owed was not as a result of unpaid taxes. It was a result of unforgiven sin. The authorities wanted her to pay the ultimate price. They wanted to condemn her to death by stoning. But before they carried out their plans, they brought the woman to Jesus to see what He might have to say about the whole thing. What Jesus did on that day changed her life forever. It gave her a brand new start.
This morning, as we see the forgiveness that Jesus gave that woman on that day, I want you to examine yourself. You are present somewhere in this story. You may be like the woman – condemned by everyone but needing forgiveness. You may be like the Pharisees – self-righteous judges of others but unable to see your own need. But hopefully, by the time you leave today, you will recognize your need to be like Jesus – the one who gave forgiveness when condemnation was justified. Let’s read John 8:1-11.
1. Jesus’ forgiveness of my sin is not based on my innocence. “caught in the act”
Have you ever been caught in the act? Last Thanksgiving, Tammy and I were taking the kids to visit Tammy’s mom in Virginia. We were driving separate cars. It wasn’t because we were mad at each other. She was going to stay for a week, and I was only going to be able to stay for a couple of days. Everything went real well on our trip for the first hour or so. Ben was in my car, and Toria was in Tammy’s. About the time that we got into Summersville, I guess we were getting a little bored, so one of us pulled up beside the other going down the highway. The kids started making silly faces at one another, and Tammy and I were laughing at them and at one another. Maybe that’s why we didn’t notice that the speed limit had dropped from 65 to 50 and that our speedometers were both reading 60+. We didn’t notice these things, but the policeman sure did. We saw him and his buddy just as we got to the top of the hill, and my heart started to race as he pulled out. Tammy was just ahead of me, and he pulled in behind her and started his lights. Both cars pulled over to the side of the road. I also went over to the side of the road and pulled in about 50 feet behind the two of them. The policeman got out of his car, went to Tammy’s, asked her if I was with her, and then motioned me to pull my car on up. He then informed me that he caught Tammy doing 63mph and me doing 61mph. I could have argued with him, but there was no point in doing so. I was caught in the act. $234 later, we pulled back onto the highway and headed off to grandma’s. That’s the most expensive trip to grandma’s that I have ever taken.
Whenever you are caught in the act, there is no point in arguing. The evidence is there. The witnesses can testify to the fact of your guilt. There is no use trying to blame someone else. The guilt is yours, and you must deal with the consequences.