Sapphire Sky

March 28, 2015

Don’t waste your life!

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: — Steve Knaus @ 3:52 pm

Guilt…

Punishment…

Forgiveness…

Restoration

This short drama is inserted in the middle of Jesus’ discourses during the Feast of Tabernacles. Many scholars debate where this story belongs, or if it should even be in the Bible at all [1].

This story is also beloved by many people in our culture, many who may not know much more about Jesus. It is popular to compare people today with either the guilty woman or the accusing Pharisees. Most of these comparisons are made in ways to make the storyteller look good. But very few people who tell this story realize who this story is really about.

It is about Jesus.

 Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives where he had spent the night on the open ground. He came to the temple and began teaching the people about the the Kingdom of God. As was often the case, his teaching was interrupted by a real-life application.

A commotion in the crowd stops his teaching. Out of that commotion comes a gang of Pharisees and their scribes, dragging a woman with them. They set the woman in front of Jesus and announce that she has been caught in adultery. They remind Jesus that the law of Moses commands that she be stoned to death, but what does he say? 

The Pharisees laid a trap for Jesus. God is just, and if Jesus declares God’s Justice, then she must be stoned. This would break the Roman law and destroy Jesus’ reputation for compassion.

But God is also merciful. If Jesus declares God’s mercy, then she would go free. But for Jesus to do so would break the law of Moses and destroy Jesus claims to be the Messiah.

How do you reconcile God’s justice and his mercy?

Jesus reconciled this for woman in the same way that he reconciles his justice and mercy for you and I. She sinned. She broke God’s law. She was guilty. The punishment was death.

Someone would die.

The accusers would not find the justice they were seeking. It took Jesus to only remind them of their own sin for them to walk away, one by one. They did not press the charges, but they also did not ask for forgiveness. The simply walked away. The entire crowd left.

Many people like to end the story with the accusers leaving, but they miss the woman’s restoration. Jesus never skipped over her sins. Instead, he left her with a command, “Go and sin no more”.

“You are restored, now stop wasting your life.” 

It will be less than six months away that Jesus will pay for this woman’s sin. He will also pay for your sin and for my sin. He will pay for the sins of the whole world. 

Stop wasting your life!

 

Previous post: If Anyone is Thirsty


John 7:53 – 8:11

They went each to his own house, ​but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”


 

They went each to his own house, ​but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

 

Everyone went home after the great dissention at the end of John 7. It appears that Jesus would normally spend the night on the Mount of Olives (see Luke 22:39).

 

It was also customary for Jesus to teach in the temple. Given both his popularity and his teaching (see John 7:46, “No one ever spoke like this man!”), it is no surprise that he would quickly draw a crowd.

 

 

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

 

The Pharisees set a skillful trap for Jesus. The crime of adultery was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:22) and this woman was caught in the act. All the woman could do now was await her death sentence.

 

Most commentators point out that this was a setup. The law required that both the man and the woman be killed for adultery, but where was the man? Either the guilty man had escaped the Pharisees or he was part of their conspiracy.

 

The Pharisees had Jesus in a trap. If Jesus had said to free the woman, then he would have violated the law of Moses and refuted his own claims to be the Messiah. If Jesus had said to stone her, then he would have violated the Roman law, which prohibited such acts, and he would have refuted his own reputation for compassion and forgiveness.

 

 

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

 

Jesus’ response to this trap was to write with his finger on the ground. There is a lot of conjecture about what Jesus was writing. Was it the Ten Commandments? Was it a list of the sins of each of the accusers? Did he even write anything at all?

 

It is pure conjecture to even guess at what Jesus was writing. The word for “wrote” here is not the normal word for writing, but it is the word used for writing a record [2]. This may indicate that Jesus was writing a record of the sins of each accuser.

 

But it was not Jesus’ writing but his words that stopped the accusers. “When they heard it, they went away one by one.” Note that these words apparently dispersed the entire crowd! Not only did the accusers leave, but all of Jesus’ listeners seem to have left as well.

 

“He did not say, ‘Do not carry out the law of Moses.’ He did not say, ‘I have come to repeal the law of Moses,’ but He put it up to them to carry out that law, if they dared.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

 

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

 

Don’t miss that — only the woman is left with Jesus! She, who was facing a horrible death in shame and disgrace, does not even try to escape. All of her accusers are now gone.

 

Jesus did not condone her sin, nor did he ignore it and set it aside. Her sin was serious and and required death. Jesus would pay it.

 

Jesus pays for her past, but then he challenges her future. “Go and sin no more”. To put it in another way, he was saying, “Leave your life of sin!”, or “Stop wasting your life!”

 


 

[1] This is one of the few passages of scripture that is heavily debated among Bible scholars (see also Mark 16:9-20 for another example). The section here (John 7:53-8:11) is not found in many of the the earliest manuscripts and even the manuscripts that did have this section were not consistent on where it should be placed. There are no early commentaries on this passage (before the 12th century).

The arguments against this passage being in the original scripture say that the above reasons show that it must have been added later on. The arguments for this passage being in the original scripture say that many of the early manuscripts which omitted this passage still had a blank spot at the beginning of John 8. Those who argue for this passage often say that it had been omitted for liturgical reasons or for moral objections.

Whether or not you believe that this passage was in the original scripture, it is important to remember that there are no new commands or doctrines in this passage which are not also taught elsewhere in scripture. It is best to not make this passage the basis for building any points of doctrine since these points would be better supported by other parts of scripture.

 

[2] Stephen Davey, Judging the Judges, John 8:1-11

 

[3] H.A. Ironside, Address 26, CHRIST AND THE ADULTERESS, John 8:1-11

1 Comment »

  1. […] Previous Post: Don’t Waste Your Life! […]

    Pingback by Light of the World | Sapphire Sky — April 19, 2015 @ 12:03 am


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