The first to drop the stone

SERMON LESSON:  JOHN 8:1-11

SERMON TEXT:       JOHN 8:7

SERMON TITLE:      “First to drop the stone”

BEHAVIOR PURPOSE: To move hearers to face their commonality with all sinners.

INTRO— BERMUDA—ON OUR HONEYMOON, WE ATE AT FINE RESTAURANTS BECAUSE MY PARENTS GAVE US A MEAL PLAN.  FOUND MYSELF LOOKING DOWN ON OTHERS—HATE TO ADMIT, IT FELT GOOD.  IN REALITY, WE WERE POOR SEMINAR STUDENTS LIVING IN AN 800 SQ FT APARTMENT.  EVER HAD A PROBLEM LOOKING DOWN UPON OTHERS AND YOU HATE TO ADMIT, IT FELT GOOD? 

ACT/MOVE I.            Woman (not the man) was caught in sin.

It was early in the morning and a certain unmarried man and woman were making a huge mistake.  The woman was engaged to someone else.  Unlike some mistakes, theirs was about to become very public.   Unknown to them at the time, they were in the middle of a trap.  A group of religious men were gathered outside of the bedroom, ready to pounce.  They had to catch them at just the right time.

All of a sudden, these religious men raided the bedroom and forcefully seized the woman like they were the SWAT team or were Navy SEALs.  No chivalry here, the man jumps out of the bed and conveniently takes off.  Was he just elusive or did the religious men just not care about him.  I would bet it was the latter.  Either way, the religious men do not chase him.   I doubt this religious “SWAT” team left the room to allow the woman to properly dress.  Why show any respect to this kind of a woman?  The religious men surely did not.  So they forcefully seized her and took her to where everyone was.  They grabbed her for a reason and it was not to reform her or help her repent from her sins.  It was not to find a support group for her.  It was to use her to their advantage.  She was just a pawn in their little game.  Jesus was in town and they had just the perfect plan.  She would work perfectly.

It was like a Super Bowl atmosphere at the Temple this time of year.  It was Holy Week and there were people everywhere from all over the world.  There was no room to stay and people were packed in streets shoulder to shoulder.  This religious SWAT team made their way through the crowds dragging this shamed women behind them.  The crowds were required to part when Pharisees in their long robes came through.  Like when the president is in town, there are no red lights for him.  He is the big shot—make way because he has privileges.  These men took full advantage of their privileges.  “Commoner, don’t you know WHO I am?  Make way!!  Coming through!!  Make room for ME!”

The crowds parted and the religious leaders made their way quickly so they could get to Jesus.  When they got to Him in the Temple courtyard, they make a circle around Jesus and forcefully throw the woman in the middle.  “Stand up woman!” these commandos say to her.  It was obvious to all she was in trouble.

ACT/MOVE II.          Pharisees wanted to stone the woman.

Jesus sees in front of Him this seized woman desperately was trying to cover herself and wanting to hide under the closest rock.  But there was no where to hide and more eyes were on her than she ever wanted to count.  She was the entertainment in the Temple this morning.  No need to hire any today.  The religious men interrupt Jesus teaching time for some “serious business.”  Like they have returned from a deer hunt, they have caught themselves a “sinner” and they are showing off their prize.  “Now Jesus as a good Jew, because this woman just happened to be caught in the act of adultery, shouldn’t she be stoned?”  As some were questioning Jesus, others were looking around for just the right rock.  The rock hunters said to each other, “Oh, now that one is perfect because it’s the perfect size for my hand and it is lightweight.  I ought to be able to throw that one very well.”

This woman does not have a minor problem.  This is not just an annoyance or a simple disagreement with the religious men.  These religious leaders don’t play around, especially with sexual sins involving women.  They are not considering community service hours for her to collect trash or work in an orphanage.  Her life is in jeopardy and this is no laughing matter.  They want to serve justice immediately without a trial.  With the religious leaders anxious to stone her, things are not going her way.

ACT/MOVE III:         Jesus “turns the tables” on the Pharisees and exposes their sins.

Jesus stoops and begins writing in the sand.  What did He write?  Some say He wrote out the sins of the Pharisees.  Others say He wrote out the verdict like a Roman official would.  No one knows but it interrupts the lynching.  It moves the attention from the woman to Jesus.  Jesus then turns the tables.  He turns the headlights on the religious leaders.  When the gossip mill turns to our closet—that is WAY too close.  Jesus agrees with their wish to go ahead and stone her.  The law of Moses said for one engaged who commits sexual infidelity must be stoned.  But the catch here is the Romans did not allow the Jews to execute people.  Someone would be offended.

“Now Jesus, do you believe in the law of Moses?” “Yes, I do thank you very much,” says Jesus.  Okay then stone her.  The religious leaders must have been thrilled.  The Romans were going to get Him now.  Oh, but there is a catch.  The catch is only those who are guiltless—either in this sin or in all sins—can throw the first stone.  The floodlights are now on the religious leaders.  How does the SWAT team feel now?  What sins do they have in their closet?  Motivations of the heart are as much a sin to God as public sins.  What is on the inside of your heart Mr. Religious leader?  Want to come forward and confess?  Not quite.  Want to be thrown out and exposed for your sins?  How does it feel now commando?

ACT/MOVE IV:         Jesus, “Where are your accusers?”

At times, I wish I could hear better and now would be one of those times.  I wish I could have heard the first stone being dropped.  Once Jesus’ words sunk in with the religious leaders, no one debated Him or argued with Him.  It was like someone showed them a mirror and they saw their reflection.  They abandoned the woman and left like they were leaving a funeral in a sober and quiet manner.  Beginning with the oldest and most revered, they were no longer interested in her sins.  In a matter of minutes, the group of men who a short time ago were acting as an aggressive SWAT team are now walking away humbly and with their heads hung low.  The circle around the woman is no more.  She has been abandoned.  Only Jesus and the rocks remain.  He asks the obvious question, “Where are your accusers?  Has no one condemned you?”  The woman finally gets a chance to speak says, “No one, sir.”  Jesus, the one without sin and the only one who could throw the stone, says to her “I do not either.”  Jesus, God in the flesh—lets her know God’s position on the matter.  The rest of the story is the sins of the woman will be punished.  But Jesus will be the one who takes the punishment very soon.  Jesus never condones her sins.  He simply says—“Go and sin no more.”  Jesus shows that forgiveness demands a clean break from sin and as He releases the woman, He asks her to stop living like this.  She is now free.  Released and her past is forgiven by the one who became her champion.  She knows her afternoon is going to be great.

CELEBRATION:

We were doing a baptism service. We told people before they came up to the platform to be baptized to take a piece of paper, write down a few of the sins they’ve committed, and fold the paper. When they come up to the platform, there was a large wooden cross on the stage. Take that piece of paper, take a pin, and pin it to the cross, because the Bible says our sins are nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ, and fully paid for by his death. Then turn and come to the pastor to be baptized.

I want to read you a letter a woman wrote who was baptized in one of those services. She said:

I remember my fear. In fact, it was the most fear I remember in my life. I wrote as tiny as I could on that piece of paper the word abortion. I was so scared someone would open the paper and read it and find out it was me. I wanted to get up and walk out of the auditorium during the service, the guilt and fear were that strong.

When my turn came, I walked toward the cross, and I pinned the paper there. I was directed to a pastor to be baptized. He looked me straight in the eyes, and I thought for sure that he was going to read this terrible secret I kept from everybody for so long. But instead, I felt like God was telling me, I love you. It’s okay. You’ve been forgiven. I felt so much love for me, a terrible sinner. It’s the first time I ever really felt forgiveness and unconditional love. It was unbelievable, indescribable.

Do you have inside of you a secret sin that you wouldn’t even want to write down on a piece of paper out of fear somebody might open it up and find out? Let me tell you something about the Jesus I know. Not only does he want to adopt you as his child, he wants to lift the weight of guilt off your shoulders.

 

 

 

 

 

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