The 9th in our series of sermons entitled “Sketches of the Son of God” looking at some of the portraits of Jesus in John’s Gospel.
According to the earliest manuscripts, this story was not included in John’s Gospel, but despite this it is regarded as – “a fragment of authentic Gospel material” (F.F. Bruce) that was later located in its current position in the Gospel, into which it slots perfectly like the piece of a jig saw.
Therefore, we can approach the story with confidence, safe in the knowledge that it has the authority of inspired Scripture (2 Timothy 3 v 16.)
Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, when a woman was brought before him who has been “caught in adultery” (v 3.) According to the Law of Moses the penalty for such sin was death (Leviticus 20 v 10 & Deuteronomy 22 v 22.) But the religious leaders wanted to pin Jesus on the horns of a dilemma, and so they asked him a trick question – “Now what do you say?” (v 5.) If Jesus showed mercy, he would be being light on the law; if on the other hand he said stone her, then that would be the end of him in the eyes of the crowd as “the friend of sinners.”
Do you have a stone in your hand ready to throw at someone?
Often today in the church there are those prepared to throw stones at those who have failed when it comes to the so called “sins of the flesh.” By doing so, such people often display the even worse “sins of the spirit!”
Jesus responded by writing something in the dust. What did he write?
- The Ten Commandments
- Jeremiah 17 v 13
- A list of sins
- The sentence for the sin of adultery
- He simply Scribbled and doodled
We can only guess, but then he challenged those without sin to cast the first stone. All chose instead to drop their stones and to depart the scene like the early morning dew.
Do you have any stones that you need to let go of?
Often today in the church we hold onto stones of condemnation and judgement because they make us feel better about ourselves. Are we being convicted to put these stones down?
The crowd having melted away, all that remain are Jesus, the woman, and a pile of rocks. Although Jesus could have stoned her, he chose not to (John 3 v 17), telling her instead to – “Go now and leave your life of sin” (v 11.) He offered her words of grace and mercy that communicated acceptance of her as a person; but not approval of her behaviour; as well as spurring her on to live a changed life for the glory of God.
Challenge – Will you put down your stones and like Jesus hate the sin, but love the sinner?
Theme: “Saved from the stone throwers!”
Reading: John 8 v 1 – 11
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Bev Sills