Summary: This sermon shows how Jesus dealt with the woman taken in adultery and how we must deal with the accusations of the enemy against us.
Introduction: There are two kinds of people in every church. There are those who are net casters, and those who are stone casters. Which kind are you? Net casters draw men to Christ. Stone casters stand as judge, jury and executioners over the sins of others. Stone casters are finger pointers. They are tut tutters who overshadow our lives. They are the critics, the self-righteous accusers of others, and they are all around us, ever ready to highlight our faults and failings, always eager to pull you down.
The text before us tonight draws to our attention just such people. The scribes and the Pharisees, those who sought to live by the letter of the law, but whose hypocrisy run rough shod over the spirit of it. Here is the story of a kangaroo court, the same kind of court that put Jesus to the cross. It was a lynch mob, and their victim was a fearful, pitiful woman, in the midst of a baying crowd of men.
I. Think For A Moment About the Defendant – vss 1-4
A. Immediately I read these vss I am drawn to the phrase at the close of vs. 4, which says she was taken “in the very act.”
1. The question arises “How did they catch her?’ How did they know what went on behind closed doors & her door in particular?
2. I put it to you they knew because she was a woman if ill repute, but more than that, I put it to you that many of her accusers were also among her customers and we will talk about that more later on.
a. Never was there a greater shower of hypocrites than this bunch of scribes and Pharisees.
b. Yet is it not often so, that the people who require the greatest exactment for sin are also the greatest perpetrators of it!
B. Certainly she had played the harlot, but they were playing the hypocrite, and there is no doubt that the former is the lesser of the two evils.
1. Somewhere in her past she had got sucked into the snare of prostitution, maybe like many women in her situation she had been driven to it by the necessity of sheer daily survival, maybe she had been threatened into it, maybe like some she sought acceptance and love and found it, temporarily, in the attentions of some man or other, whatever the reason, we must be slow to condemn her.
2. We can only imagine her shame being dragged through the streets of Jerusalem by a lynch mob, we can only imagine her anger as the man she was “taken in the very act from” skulked off “ in freedom whilst she faced capital punishment. We can only begin to conceive of the bitterness of her soul as she was brought into the presence of another man to be judged at the whim of men who had damned her soul & who were now demanding her execution.
II. Think for A Moment About the Prosecution – vss 5-7a
A. Notice the phrase in vs. 6 “this they said tempting Him.”
1. They weren’t out to get her, they were out to get Him.
2. They weren’t interested in keeping the law otherwise they would have brought her partner to be stoned also - Deut 22:22.
3. They were, however, interested in bending the law so that they might legally kill two birds with one stone, putting Him to death alongside her!
a. If He said, “Stone her,” they would charge Him with assuming political authority that did not belong to Him.
b. If He said, “Let her alone, do nothing with her,” they would charge Him with encouraging immorality and invalidating their law.
4. “But Jesus stooped down,” remember He was sitting, “ . . . and with His finger wrote on the ground.”
a. This was a deliberate gesture on His part, it symbolised to them an image of a man deep in thought, maybe even being somewhat aloof from the turmoil surrounding him.
b. They wouldn’t let go of it they kept asking and pressurising, hounding Him to give answer.
c. But they did not brace themselves for the answer He gave. The Lord Jesus always outwitted these tricksters and their shameful ploys.
III. Think for A Moment About Her Defence – vss 7b-8
A. Taking a break from his doodlings on the ground, the Lord Jesus looked them in the eye and said:
1. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
2. I am quite sure this challenge in itself did little to discomfit the Pharisees, after all were they not in their own minds the custodians of the Law and the bastions of virtue. Was it not one of their own number who Jesus typified standing at the temple altar and crying “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are!”