But why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you look down on your brother or sister? We all will stand in front of the judgment seat of God. Because it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. So stop judging each other. Instead, this is what you should decide: never put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister.
Early in the morning he returned to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and taught them. The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?” She said, “No one, sir.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”
Most know this story. Most understand what is taking place. The self-righteous religious leaders are using this woman for their trap. She is brought before them, stripped naked from the waste up, the man she was with is nowhere to be found. It’s a trap for Jesus so they could discredit Him. Would He side with the law of Moses and condemn the woman? Or would He side with the woman and contradict the law of Moses?
If he said stone her, he would be in trouble with the Romans, technically the Jewish people could not do that. He also would be going against His reputation of being a friend of sinners. If He said, “Let the woman go,” He would be showing a disregard for the law by sanctioning her evil, almost encouraging it. Tough situation, but we know how he got out of the trap. Can’t trap God. Can’t trap Jesus.
We smile as He writes something in the sand which we don’t know, it is as if He has detached Himself from the scene. Jesus forces them to keep pressing for an answer. Suddenly we might find compassion for this adultress even though if we are in the presence of a home wrecker today, we probably would have no compassion for her at all or maybe you do have compassion.
My question is: why do we look at this woman with such compassion? Why do we feel sorry for her? She was the type of woman that ruins marriages and leaves innocent children injured. Why do we tend to side with her? Is it simply because we too don’t like the Pharisees? Why is it?
In Parables there are 2 distinct sides – pick one
Well, I would tend to believe that while we probably do despise the Pharisees actions and attitudes; while we are disgusted at them for using this woman as bait; while we are angered by their hate and cruelty, maybe the reason that we feel the way we do is more than that. Maybe it’s because we can relate to this woman. Maybe it’s because we share some things. No, we may not have been caught in adultery. But we understand what she was going through. What do I mean? Let me explain.
I. Our Guilt Is Undeniable
I think that, first of all, we can relate to this woman because her guilt was undeniable. The mob rushes in and throws her at Jesus feet and with hatred and anger says, “She’s been caught!” Now we could run down a few rabbit holes. Those are: Where is the man, he should be stoned too. How was she caught in the very act? Was the man a set-up to get her? Let’s not care, she was caught in the act. She was guilty and we find she doesn’t even argue, that is an implied admission of guilt.
By that we know that this is not a modern story. It seems that our culture has moved away from admission of guilt. It’s someone else’s fault. That wasn’t what I was really doing. Here is my excuse. Argue, argue, deny, deny, deny, hopefully it will go away. Maybe we could admire her honesty.
And this morning, the truth is, whether we like it or not, and whether we want to admit it or not, whether we want to own up to the fact or not, we are undeniably guilty as well. Scripture tells us in Romans 3:10 that there is none righteous, no, not one. Later in that same chapter Paul says that all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. 1 Kings 8:46 says that there is no one who does not sin. There is not one innocent soul in this room today.
No one can claim to have led a sin-free life. We are sinners. We can try and argue if we want, and many have done that, actually many have argued that their sin is not near as bad as other’s sin. If anyone thinks that their amount of sin matters, be it more than others they know or less than others they know, we have been proven guilty. But 1 John says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.
Let’s face it, some of us think that our sins are small offenses and other peoples sin are capital offenses but that is wrong. Sometimes our speech and attitudes to people inside & outside of church conveys this. That attitude drives many away from being in church, participating in a loving community of faith. We are all as guilty as the woman is in our parable, we are as guilty as whomever sits next to you today.
II. The Law Is Unmerciful
The second way I think we can relate to this woman is because not only was her guilt and ours undeniable; but we, like she did, have found that the law is unmerciful. That’s exactly what the Pharisees were demanding. They were demanding justice. This woman had broken the law, she had been caught in the act of adultery and proven guilty; therefore, she deserved to be stoned to death.
You know, something that we hear a lot about these days is how much we deserve to live just the way that we want to live. We deserve to live a financially secure life, a nice home, drive a nice car, have a perfect family, and be treated fairly at work. If we are mistreated we deserve to be aptly compensated. Everyone is into this idea that we should be demanding our rights. We better be treated fairly or someone’s going to be in trouble. We deserve to get what we’ve got coming to us.
But the truth of the matter when it comes to God, if we got what we deserved we would all be in trouble. If we got what was coming to us I don’t think we’d really like it all that much. Who like me has been pulled over for speeding? I didn’t want what I deserved when I was sitting on the side of the road. When that cop pulled me over I knew I was guilty.
So you know what I didn’t do? “Officer, now I want you to know, I demand justice; I demand my rights; I demand that you give me what I’ve got coming to me.” No, I didn’t do that. Why? Because if I got what I had coming to me it would be a big fat ticket. Because the law states that the penalty for speeding is a fine and a mark on my record.
I didn’t want what I had coming to me because I knew I was guilty, I knew I deserved a ticket. And there was no need to demand justice from him anyway, because he went ahead and gave it to me. I didn’t demand to be dealt with fairly when I knew that I was undeniably guilty. I didn’t want justice, the justice I demand from others. I wanted mercy.
And I’ll tell you what, there is no way in the world that I want to stand in front of the judgment seat of God, covered with the shame and disgrace of sin, and demand that I be treated fairly and with human worldly justice. There’s no way I want to stand there covered with my guilt and demand my rights, and demand to get what I’ve got coming to me. I don’t really want what I deserve. Because the fact that my guilt is undeniable, and the fact that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, means that the only thing I am deserving of is the penalty for my sin.
And the penalty for sin is harsh; the penalty for sin is stiff; the law is unmerciful. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. If we were to get what we deserved we would receive death. If we were to get the wages that our sin has earned we would be rewarded by an eternity in hell. The law demands our heads. It is unmerciful.
III. God’s Grace Is Unsearchable
But let me hurry on to tell you, this morning, that while our guilt is undeniable and while the law is unmerciful, God’s grace is unsearchable. While there is no doubt that you and I have broken the law, we are guilty; and while we definitely deserve to have to pay the penalty for our sin; this story teaches us that our God is a God who is willing to extend His grace and His mercy; His unmerited favor and forgiveness to our guilty and condemned souls. When we come to Him, accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, accept our sins without excuse and repent, God has grace and mercy is on us.
This story tells us this today. The only One who truly has the power to condemn doesn’t. The only One who really has the authority to judge chooses instead to pardon. Notice, Jesus never condoned this woman’s sin. He never made it out as though she hadn’t done anything wrong. He didn’t say to this woman, “I know you were falsely accused.” He doesn’t say, “Hey, don’t worry about it.”
He doesn’t brush off her guilt. He doesn’t hold her unaccountable. He just simply says, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone. ” And when He looked up, the hypocritical, sin comparing, judgmental accusing people recognized their sinfulness and no one remained except Him and this woman.
He looked up and said, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?” And she said, “No one Sir.” And Jesus says those wonderful words, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.” He offered her a second chance. He didn’t condone her sin, but He forgave it. He didn’t give her license to sin. In fact, He told her to quit her sin. But He offered her a fresh slate, a new start. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Jesus put His amazing grace on display.
God’s grace is a grace that we can’t fathom. It is a grace that we can’t comprehend. It is a grace that goes beyond anything we could ever imagine. You and I deserve to spend eternity in the fire and darkness and torture of hell. But there is One, the only One who has the power to condemn us, who is willing right now to instead extend His hand of grace to us. The only One who has the authority to judge us would rather offer His unmerited forgiveness for our sin. His is an unsearchable grace. It’s amazing grace. Don’t let judgmental people get you down like the Pharisees were……AND judgmental people, put those stones down.
This morning, if you have not yet experienced the forgiveness of the One who took your place on the cross, I need to tell you that your guilt is undeniable, your “amount” of sin doesn’t matter. There is no reason for you to argue, you have no excuse. You are guilty. You are a sinner. Your sin deserves to be punished.
But I’m so glad to be able to tell you that there is One who has grace enough for you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, there is One who offers you forgiveness. It doesn’t matter what’s in your past or even in your present, there is One who offers you a fresh beginning. It doesn’t matter what you deserve, there is One who offers mercy.
Paul said in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. You see, Jesus Christ has already paid the penalty for your sin. Jesus faced the condemnation for you. Jesus took the penalty for you. “Go and sin no more.” Yes be relieved, refreshed, and ready to go!