Who’s without sin? – John 8:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 26, 2015
Self-righteousness can express itself in many different forms. We often think of it as the overtly bigoted religious persona depicted by the media, movies, or television. However it can take the form of someone who thinks they are spiritually okay when in fact they know next to nothing about God, his Son, or the Bible. They self-righteously equate their good intentions, actions, or attitudes as more that good enough for God. And in fact, their intent becomes God’s for them. They do not see themselves as a sinner in need of a Savior. This is the millennial mindset of much of America today. It is not new.
We discover that even the hyper-religious bureaucrats of Jesus’ day fell into this self-inflicted trap, thinking they were far better off spiritually than the common man or in this case woman. Here in John we find an interesting account of Jesus rescuing a sinful woman from her wrongful accusers. In doing so we discover some wonderful things concerning Jesus; let’s discover what they are…
READ: John 8:1-11
A self-righteous attitude does not think one needs to consider their own sin-condition; they are perfectly fine where they are. The Pharisees and the priests had dispersed and now another group decided to test Jesus’ sincerity. True spiritual humility always asks, “Am I walking with God or not?” Those who held a strict application of Mosaic Law to life brought a woman to Jesus and we find…
I. Jesus would not be caught in their sin! (Vv. 1-6)
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
1. We find that Jesus was doing what he often did while in Jerusalem, he camped on the Mount of Olives at night and went to the temple area to teach during the day. Luke relates, “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. (Luke 21:37-38 NIV)” John relates, “Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts; where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. (John 8:1-2 NIV)” Some suggest that Jesus did not care for crowds and loved fresh air but this reasoning does not fit the facts we know concerning Jesus. While I am sure he did not necessarily like the press of the crowds, he did not mind them and often his greatest teaching came when he was in the midst of or speaking directly to the crowds. Whatever the reason we discover that the Pharisees were about what they regularly were: trying to entrap Jesus in some way, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.” And, in an attempt to try and shame her, “They made her stand before the group.” Immediately they ask Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” It was an “I gotcha” moment. If Jesus did not condemn her, he would be disagreeing with the Law of Moses and if he did condemn her he would lose the respect of the crowd. John tells us that “They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.” I believe, Jesus already was well aware of their intent. Where was the man involved, according to the law he should have been tried as well. Instead of being sucked into their ungodly use of the law, “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.” Jesus would not be caught in their sin!
EXAMPLE: Many over the centuries have tried to guess what Jesus wrote in the dirt that day. Like slivers from the cross or the myriad of nails and other supposed artifacts, I am surprised we don’t have some charlatans trying to sell plaster castings of his tracings! There are those who suggest Jesus wrote the sins of the woman’s accusers, while others think that perhaps he wrote the words “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. (Exodus 23:1 NIV)” Maybe Jesus simply traced his finger in the dust while preparing to respond. It is all a guess really, because what Jesus wrote is not as important as to how he responded. Jesus would not be caught in their sin!
Growing up in the faith practice I did, I was often reminded of just how pathetic I was and how I could never measure up to the high standards of Jesus. We find other religions saying they are the true worshippers of holy God by how they torture, murder, and slaughter the innocent. There are those who would rather rewrite the gospel narrative than discover its truth for their lives. This is why when I finally came to faith in Christ, I was ecstatic to learn the beautiful truth that…
II. Jesus never condemns us for our sin! (Vv. 7-11)
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
1. Notice that like children bullying their own, “they kept on questioning him.” Jesus responds both quietly and compassionately, “he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'” You would think these self-righteous snobs would have taken him up on his offer, but his demeanor and his response both surprised and shocked them. And then, “Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.” There is something kind of humorous in Jesus’ actions. Those who wanted to test him and to also condemn another to make them feel more important and noble were chaffing at the bit, while the one they want to entrap calmly draws in the dirt! Kind of makes one wonder what the woman was thinking at this moment. All the other men there were angry with her except Jesus. All the others were intent on getting their pound of flesh, except Jesus. They had dragged her through the streets in humiliation, while the one whose feet they finally toss her simply and quietly bent down and traced his finger in the dust of the road! This is the attitude of one who understands the love of God and the sin we so often find ourselves. At this simple act we find “those who heard began to go away one at a time, the old ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there!” Perhaps the older ones understood first the wisdom of Jesus’ words, while the anger of youth took a little more time, but whatever the reason, each man drops his stone and wanders quietly away — humbled. Here is where we have to smile, here is where the joy and love of God is displayed, “Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'” Surely you can see the twinkle in Jesus eyes as he speaks to her, certainly you can sense the compassion he expresses with each word. She is confused, as we are so often when God openly and lovingly forgives us. “No one, sir,” she replies. You see no one can condemn us for our sins, although we often do. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus responds. And lastly, he tells her what he always tells those he finds and forgives, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” How wonderful to know and discover that Jesus never condemns us for our sin!
EXAMPLE: Joe South, an old hard rocker from the sixties sang a song that went, “Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes. Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes!” Then he sings about karma and how our lives are not perfect. I always kind of hated that expression, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” The reason is because it is so often misused. Most think that unless you do what they do, you have no right to criticize their lives. This is not what Jesus was teaching as he wrote in the dust of the street and forgave the sins of the woman. Jesus always rebuked sin in the lives of people, but he never condemned the person. Jesus would ultimately die for the sins of those he never met. How could the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world condemn us when he willingly would die for us? We discover while Jesus does not condone our sin, Jesus never condemns us for our sin!
Jesus would not be caught in their sin! Jesus never condemns us for our sin!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.