John chapter 8 is a beautiful lesson of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. It’s also a great reminder on the importance of remaining steadfast in the faith.
vs 1-6 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.
The Jews thought they’d found a sinner who had no way out and no excuse. What was their plan? They wanted to trap Jesus in His response so that they could prove His lack of authority. With this woman, they hoped that whatever Jesus’ response, they would be able to use that to show Him to be unrighteous or a fake. After all, He had been claiming to be God! They hoped or assumed His response would be one of compassion for her life, to NOT stone her to death. In that response, they could then suggest that Jesus would disobey the law of Moses, or that He was unrighteous and was not doing the Will of God.
They could have brought any one of their own to Jesus, or any one of us for that matter. We’re all sinners! Every one of us is guilty of committing sin against God. As a matter of fact, we were born in our sin since we inherited it all the way from Adam. Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (That doesn’t mean babies are sinners, and that’s not what the verse is saying. It just means you and I are both sinners.) Yes, there is guilt in each of us, but complete forgiveness is possible and oh so much better!
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus’ response to this woman was not one of conviction (you deserve to die because you’ve done this terrible thing), nor did He tell her that she was not in sin (don’t worry, you did nothing wrong). He responded with simple love for her. That love is something He demonstrates to us so that we can know how to respond as well.
I am a sinner. It’s true. I’ve done terrible and awful things in my life. I’ve committed sins that have kept me awake at night, sins that I have mourned over, beat myself up about, and wrestled with on so many occasions. God loves me anyway, in spite of me. He loved me even before I became a Christian, before I asked Christ to forgive my sins and make me whole and clean and pure in Him. He loved me before I believed in Christ the Messiah, that He is the only way to eternal life. And He has forgiven my sins because Jesus took that sin upon Himself and died on the cross in my place.
In this story, He demonstrates that love to us, so that we would love others the same way. I know you are a sinner. It’s a fact none of us can escape. But through Jesus, I love you anyway.
Vs 7-11 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
There have been centuries of debate over what Jesus might have been writing in the sand. I love what Pastor Chuck Smith writes:
“The problem: where was the man? Because they caught them in the very act. And according to the law of Moses they were both to be stoned. Why did they only bring the woman if they were caught in the act? So there was an injustice at the very onset, in their own judgments. They should have brought the man too. The question: what was Jesus writing there in the sand? Now, of course, the scripture doesn’t tell us, so we can guess.”
“Down the line from the oldest to the youngest, Jesus begins to write their names and write the things they have been doing. Because they were, all of them, convicted one by one in their own conscience. And they went out one by one, beginning from the eldest even to the youngest, until there was no one left but the woman.”
vs 12 “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”
When I was a kid and I wanted to read late at night and I didn’t want my parents to know I was up late reading, you know what I did? I hid under the covers of my bed and used a flashlight to read. That one little bitty light bulb and a couple of small batteries gave me more light than I needed to read in such a small space. Jesus isn’t necessarily asking us to fly all over the United States and to be on television and to preach to millions of people. He’s not necessarily asking us to fly to Africa and spend our entire lives preaching to the native tribes there. God may not even be asking us to become pastors and teach God’s word to a congregation.
What He is telling us to do is be a light – a beacon – sharing His love and His Word where ever He has placed us. Loving others when they don’t deserve it (remember, NONE of us deserve God’s love). Maybe that will be teaching in Africa or preaching to millions, but it more certainly means telling your friend about Jesus, or teaching in Sunday School. (:-) Or helping in the infants room on Sundays. Or setting up chairs in the sanctuary, or being an usher or a greeter at church. Or talking to that friend at work or school, listening to their problems, and showing them God’s love just by being a friend.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
vs 23-24 “And He said to them, ‘You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”‘
What did Jesus mean? From David Guzik: “Jesus knew He was going to heaven. Because of their hatred against Him, Jesus could say that His accusers were not going to heaven. Where He was going, they could not follow. If we follow Jesus on earth, we will follow Him to heaven. If we express no desire to follow Him on earth, what would make us think we will follow Him to heaven?”
I would add that if we follow the path of sin, which is Satan’s path, we will also follow him to eternity in hell. It’s that simple.
vs 31-32 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”
If we believe in Jesus, then we are commanded to live (abide) in His word, and we will be His disciples. If we believe in Him, but are not living (abiding) in His word, then we are not being discipled, nor are we following Him. Abiding in His word would suggest we are absorbed in it, surrounded by it, reading it, living it, thinking about it, and telling it to others. If we are absorbed in it, we will know the truth from the lies of the world.
Remaining steadfast in the faith
The Apostle Paul wrote:
Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
~ Colossians 1:22-23
That is abiding in Christ. Continuing to hold onto faith, growing and learning. We do that by prayer, attending church to be taught, and by reading God’s Word -the Bible-.
In vs 37-59 the Jewish leaders continue to question Jesus, misunderstand and lie about Him (even suggesting He had a demon in Him in vs 48), and completely dishonored Him.
vs 59 “Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”
As we learned last week, Jesus knew that it was not His time to die. He wasn’t slipping away because He was afraid of them, He was miraculously hidden away from them so that God’s will and God’s timing would be fulfilled (See Jesus teaches in the Temple). God does His will in His perfect time. Ecclesiastes 3:17 “I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.”
The Bible even tells us that Jesus died at the right time in Romans 5:6 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Jesus Christ died for our sin, and was raised again on the third day so we could each have eternal life with Him. He came to you and He came to me at just the right time. When we need Him most.
The Sinners Prayer:
Saying the sinner’s prayer is simply a way of declaring to God that you are relying on Jesus Christ as your Savior. There are no “magical” words that result in salvation. It is only faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection that can save us. If you understand that you are a sinner and in need of salvation through Jesus Christ, here is a sinner’s prayer you can pray to God:
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”