One of my favorite stories of forgiveness. A story that is so powerful but mostly overlooked. A story of God’s TRUE nature in grace and mercy.
John 8:1-11 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.
Now must of you who have not heard this story, I hope the teaching goes without saying. But for those of you who are curious why this is such an important story, or why this story shows God’s face through the words, then pay attention. As I walk you through the story through the eyes of the woman, the Savior, and the accusers.
When Jesus went to the mount of Olives, He knew something was going to happen. So He came early in the morning to the temple. And He taught some people.
But then the scribes and pharisees, the Holy and Righteous guys of the church, found some filthy unclean whore of a woman. Who they caught dead in the act of sleeping with another man. When they seen this they immediately readied the capitol punishment that the law of Moses commanded them to do. But they thought, “Why not take out two birds with one stone? Literally. Let us trick this Jesus into saying something blasphemous about her so we can stone the both of them” So they brought this woman who was officially unclean, meaning now she could have no social life, or any other kind of life, to the blasphemous man who claims to be God’s son. They probably gave her trouble by jerking her around by her hair, and shoving her on the ground. Causing the dirt to fly in her mouth and tasting the last piece of life she has left.
Here is this woman, knowing she has been caught. And now the punishment is death so brutal, they call it Murder with specified aggravating circumstance. It is torture before death. Where the person is literally beat to death by large stones being thrown at her. And now as she is thrown on the ground like some filthy dog, she weeps. Because now she feels the conviction. But its to late. Even if she survives this brutal beating, she will never see her friends or family again. She sinned against God and now the “God Squad” is out to get her. But nonetheless she is scared. For her life. But if she could just have one more day to make things right. But its to late. If she could just explain herself or tell her family she loves them. But its to late. And as she hears those Priests of the church say that it was up to Jesus, imagine how she felt. She would do anything for this man if He would just let her go. But if he was one of them, He would tell them to stone her and pick up a rock himself.
The scribes and pharisees now have this man where they want him. In the middle of the temple surrounded by witnesses. Now they can trick him and make him slip up in his words. THEN they can get rid of him once and for all. They ask in mockery, “Master, we caught this woman and the law that God gave Moses says we should kill her with stones, but what do YOU think we should do?” Imagine ego that just grew inside the pharisees. The hatred for this man. He is in THEIR territory now. There is no escape. They will do what God’s law said.
As the Almighty Savior is teaching in the temple, He has this woman thrown in front of him. Who is crying, and pleading for her life. He hears the Pharisees words and listens to their hearts. He knows they plot against him. So He just kneels down and starts drawing in the sand like He can’t even hear them. He ignored them. But for some reason they kept pestering Him and asking Him and wouldn’t leave Him alone.
At this time the woman listens to the pharisees accuse and watch this man ignore them. Why won’t He help? Why won’t he say anything? Seconds felt like hours…yet He refused to say anything.
The Savior now getting a little agitated continued to write in the sand and said “If there are any of you without sin let him cast the first stone.”
The pharisees were so excited because they thought they had him. He wouldn’t answer, they moved their bishop to the proper place to put the king in checkmate. Gameover. But then He opens his mouth and says something that made them think. Only the people who had no sin could cast a stone. Where did this come from? What could they say to that? They can’t throw a stone knowing they would be lying to everyone else and themselves. The fact that the tabernacle still stood shows us that even the pharisees, the most righteous people had sin in their hearts. But this statement wasn’t about that. This was the first time Jesus put conviction in the hearts of the Pharisees. And it was such a feeling, having to look inside yourself, and realize that standing before God in the flesh, daring you to tell Him that you have no sin in your life. Even the great prophet Isaiah fell on his face before the Almighty God and said “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts”. Imagine for a moment the feeling of the pharisees. They literally felt such a pain for their own soul that there was no way they could take the life of another.
The woman who is trembling for her life, hears the first rock fall to the ground. The sound probably scared her. She begins to cry as more and more stones are dropped. And stands to see that everyone had left. And her Savior stands and looks around and asks, “Where are your accusers now? Has any man thrown a rock at you?” And with a trembling voice, she replies “No my Lord.” And as a Father who forgives his child, He said “then neither do I condemn thee.” This was the same GOD who told Moses to write the law for the woman to be stoned. Deut 22:22: “If a man is discovered committing adultery, both he and the woman must die. In this way, you will purge Israel of such evil.” But now Grace had come and ran to aid the woman. Mercy had to abound. And now God says, You are forgiven. And the kicker, she never asked for forgiveness. This was the one time God showed TRUE mercy. The one time God showed his unconditional love not just toward Christians but Sinners too.
Now to apply this story for us today.
The woman is the sinner. But that sinner can sometimes be a member of your church could be that woman. Or a thug on the streets. Or the girl who wears skimpy clothes and attracts all the guys. Maybe is the homeless drunk on the side of the interstate. Maybe a co-worker, a friend, or even a family member. And it seems like most Churchs is the pharisees today.
But oh how the Pharisees are so much better then this generation of Christians. The people of the church today would throw them stones in a heart beat. Thinking they are more holy then that filthy sinner. Though they preach sinners must be saved, but in reality when a sinner approaches, or is cast down in front of them, the first thing they do is pick up a stone and launch it at their prey. Why is this? Because they are without hope? Because they could plant bad seed into the hearts of the Christians? Because their different? Or just because your self righteous attitude says that you are better then they? Lets answer these questions. Though you actually may be holier then they, Jesus didn’t die just for you. He died for that adulterous woman too.
Maybe YOU are that sinner that has been cast down by others. Cast out, or even just a free living sinner. God wants you to know there is punishment of sins. No it may not be getting stoned, but something far worse. An eternity in Hell. But Jesus sees you where you are. And He hears your cries and the cries of your accuser, Satan. But He is willing to ignore all of that mess if only you will to submit to Him. He loves you so much He was willing to be cruicified for you. And He wants you to love Him in return.
Jesus is crying out to you and ignoring your sins. Regardless of what they are. Stand up and see that your accusers are gone. And run into the arms of your Savior. And remember the last words He spoke to her, “Go and sin no more.”
John 3:16-17: For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Psalms 103:24 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.