15 January 2007
"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."-John 8:7
Our message today revolves around our Lord as He displays His sovereign mercy, and grace. Sinners love mercy. Mercy means that we did not receive the punishment we justly deserved. Sinners also love grace. Grace means we have been given something that we did not earn. Christ is full of mercy, and grace!
On this occasion, the Pharisees brought a woman before Jesus who was taken in the act of adultery. This they did to temp Him. They were not praying for the woman. They were not trying to help her. They just wanted to stone her, and use the occasion to temp Jesus. Jesus must have known who she was. It seems that everyone did. Her reputation was well known to the community, so well known, the Pharisees knew just where to catch her in her sinful act. But for some reason, they felt that Jesus loved her, that she was special in some way to our Lord. They felt that He would find some excuse to spare her. This would give them the ammunition they needed to accuse Jesus of breaking the law for the law demanded stoning for the offense.
Now, some may be asking, "Why did Jesus love this woman when she was involved in her lewd acts of adultery? How could Jesus love a person like that?" This was a mystery to the Pharisees as well. Jesus ate with Publicans, and sinners. They didn't know something that many do not know today. Jesus doesn't begin to love us when we clean up our act. He loves us in spite of our act. He loves His people with an everlasting love. You see, my friends, we are one of two people in this story. We are either the woman, or we are the Pharisee.
Let us be thankful that Jesus eats with sinners. If he didn't, He would not eat with any of us. He would either have to eat alone or go back to heaven. They say there are only two kinds of sinners: those that know they are sinners, and those that do not know they are sinners. Those Pharisees belonged to the latter class. They felt themselves to be above the law. They felt they had done their works, and for those works, they deserved heaven. They envisioned their future glorious state, running around in heaven with big crowns on their heads. They probably competed in their works, not to honor God, but to have the biggest crown. I love what one preacher said about that, "If I get to heaven and my brother does not have a crown I am going to give him mine." These looked down their noses at sinners, and felt they did not need God's mercy and grace. Their works would get them there.
They set the woman down at the feet of our Lord with their stones in their hands anticipating one of two events to transpire: either they will stone Jesus' friend, or they will find Jesus in a fault. They will be winners either way, and will go home happy. But Jesus ignores their accusations against the woman. He is greater than the law. He can ignore them because He will pay for her sin upon His cross. The cross is ground zero for all sinners. None are any better than others. She was special to Him. She was one of His elect! We hear the words of Paul echo in our ears, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" She was one of the "us." The law had no power over her.
Jesus begins to do something very interesting at this point—He begins to write on the ground. We are not told what He wrote at that moment, but it had a profound effect upon the Pharisees. Perhaps He wrote the date that one of them had visited the woman. Perhaps He wrote something like that about each of them. Whatever it was, they all became convicted. Rather than throwing stones, they began to drop them, and slowly, silently, skulk away from the scene. They sure didn't want anyone to know that they were sinners.
Though she was in great fear, a wonderful moment was before the woman. It was that special moment every born again believer has experienced. It is that moment when the law stands before us, and justly condemns us. We are without excuse, as the verse in the old song goes, "And if my soul were sent to hell, thy righteous law approves it well." We are made sick of our sin. And when this moment happens, He is there. He probably sent the lawyers to get her. We are face to face with our Lord as we cast ourselves upon His mercy and grace. He forgives.
Finally, Jesus asks her where her accusers were. Were there any men left to accuse her of her sin. She answers in the negative, all had gone away. Then she heard the words she so longed to hear, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin nor more." That is grace. She didn't ask for it. She didn't do a good work for it. She just received it freely. Did Jesus condone her sin? Certainly, not! He commanded her to "Go and sin no more."
This story provides hope for every sinner. You may be saying, "But my sin is too great, I have gone too far." If that is your feeling then you are just the person Jesus came to save. Cast yourself upon the mercy, and grace of Jesus. Then, go, and sin no more!