- First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi - https://www.fpcjackson.org -

The Woman Taken in Adultery

A little commercial please.  Number one, you need to pray for Ligon.  He has great responsibilities as he leaves you to become chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary.  And I know you will continue to pray for him and thank God for the great ministry that he’s had here.  Number two, you need to be thankful for this staff here.  I’ve gotten to know them better and better just in the last few days and they are very competent.  This church is not going to hit a bump; we’re going to go right on.  And then finally, number three, the pastor that is to come, God will give you a good man.  I spoke to Ligon after the service, the morning service, and he and I both agreed that it’s just amazing that God continues to give to this congregation such men of intelligence, of education, of great preaching ability, and great leadership.  And Ligon said, “You forgot the part about handsome and finally all of us have been so humble!”  And so you’re going to get the same kind of a fellow!  

And now if you will, let us open our Bibles to the book of John, the gospel of John, to the eighth chapter of the gospel of John. Let’s pray now and then I’m going to do something.

Heavenly Father, we pray to You that as we turn to Your Word that You would bless this congregation and everyone who is here, that You would give them an open heart and reception to hear and to understand the Word of God and that the Holy Spirit would speak to them.  And Lord, I ask You that You would help the preacher.  And You know his heart that he is a sinner and he needs Your mercy and grace and I ask You to speak to him.  You’ve called him but use him.  Hear this prayer in Jesus’ holy name and for His sake and our good, amen.

Historical Background of John 8

You’ve got to have a quick background here.  The seventh chapter of John – by the way, in the morning service, the early service, I went overtime and I didn’t look down and ooo!  But I’m looking down now and I trust that I’ll get you out on time.  I came to this pulpit and the last two people I spoke to were members of my family and they both said the same thing – “Keep it short!”  You could almost guess who they are!  Here’s the background.  In some of the chapter Jesus is presenting Himself at the temple, preaching and teaching, as the Messiah, the Old Testament Christ that is to come.  He says, “I’m it!”  They send the religious leaders, the Pharisees, the kind of state police.  “Go arrest Him and bring Him back.”  They come back and they say, “We listened to Him preach. Nobody ever preached like this.  We couldn’t arrest Him.”  So now they’re going to come in a different way.  The seventh chapter ends with everybody going home for the night.  Jesus does not go to anybody’s house; Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives.  He went out there and spent the night out there all by Himself.  I wonder why?  To be by Himself and to pray and to meditate.  What do I get out of that?  Here’s what I get out of that.  Sometimes there are men who feel like, “Oh Jesus” – kind of wimpish, you know?  Jesus was a real man. He spent many, many nights – He never rode anywhere.  He walked everywhere.  He was in shape, He was a godly man, but He was also a physical – He was a man’s man.  And He can relate to that.  

That’s what He does here.  He spends the night on the Mount of Olives and then He comes back with everybody else early in the morning to the temple there to begin to teach again.  And as He is teaching, the Pharisees come with a woman.  The Pharisees had decided, “Well, there’s no need sending police.  What we will do is discredit Him publically so He will not be influencing people.  And here’s how we’re going to discredit.  We’re going to tell Him we found this woman in the act of adultery.  Moses, the Law of Moses – that You’re supposed to obey, Lord Jesus – the Law of Moses says stone her.  What do You say, Lord Jesus?  We leave it to You, Rabbi.”  All these people are watching.  If He says, “Stone her,” can you imagine?  Or if He says, “Let her go,” they will say, “This is your God?  He can’t even obey the Law!”  You see, they’ve got Him in the horns of a dilemma.  Either way they discredit Him.  What does Jesus do?  He kneels down.  He begins to write, the only time He ever wrote anything, and He begins to write in the street and the dust.  And they say, “Come on, give us a decision, decision!” And finally He stands up and He says, “He that is without sin, let him cast the first brick in your hand.”  And He kneels down again and He continues to write. And they’re saying, “Come on!”  And then finally, apparently, they read what He is writing and these Pharisees, beginning at the oldest, walk away.  And Jesus finally looks up and says to the woman, He said, “Woman” – which is a term of honor; it’s a nice word – “Woman, where are those who condemned you?  None?”  And she says, “None, Lord.”  And He says, “Neither do I.  Go, and sin no more.”

Let me read it to you.  This is the Word of God.  Verse 53 of the seventh chapter:

“They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  And early in the morning he came again to the temple.  All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.  And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, Jesus, ‘Teacher, Rabbi, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.  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 cast a stone at her.’  Once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they, the Pharisees, 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.’”

God help us.

I. A Modern Parallel

Some people would say, as many would, and reasonably so – this was written two thousand years ago, occurred two thousand years ago in kind of a backwards situation.  Man, in your lifetime we’ve put a man on the moon and somebody else has been on that moon as well.  We live in a sophisticated – what in the world does this thing two thousand years ago got to do with us today?  And what are these people here for?  And why should anybody listen to what you’re trying to do right now?  This is impossible to be of any real help.  Oh?  Let me put it like this.  A number of years ago we were having communion, the other sacrament, in this sanctuary.  I had preached and we had gotten to the communion table and I had tried to begin to set aside the communion elements, the bread and the wine, when I noticed that a man was being helped up and seated up in the balcony.  He had just walked in.  here we are, coming to the near end of the worship service, and in a minute instead of being seated he stood up and he began to preach up in the balcony and he cried out in a loud voice and he said, “The Lord God has sent me here to give a word to this congregation,” and he started out to criticize.  And I said, “We’re going to have a word of prayer, sir.  Why don’t you bow your head?  We’ll all bow our heads and we’ll pray.”  And I prayed.  And I prayed, “God, deal with us.  Deal with this man.  Amen.”  I looked up and he was gone.  And I later found out that some of the deacons had come, the same deacons, and they led him downstairs and they dealt with him.  Now in the first service I said, “I’m going to tell you what happened to that man and what the application was,” but I’d better tell you right now because I forgot to tell them at the end!  And they said, “There are those other people.  Maybe we can ask them!”  

And here’s what happened; here’s what happened.  The man had just gotten out of prison. Our deacons had called a policeman who we had that was guarding – isn’t that awful, that in a worship service you’ve got to have police guard your automobiles?  And so they called him.  Now I forget his name but he was a skinny little fellow and mean as a rattlesnake.  And he was tough!  And here’s what he told me afterwards.  “I got that fellow in the car and I recognized who he was.”  And I said, “I’m taking you down there.  We’ll probably put you back in prison.”  And he said, “That man said to me, ‘Why don’t you treat me with kindness like those men in the church treated me?’”  That’s what Jesus was preaching about.  

II. Confronting the Pharisees: Conviction and the Ten Commandments 

Here’s what Jesus was preaching about.  Here was a group of men who were committed by law, they were like the Justice Department and the Supreme Court all rolled into one, and they were committed to disciplining the people according to the Law.  That’s why they thought they had Jesus.  How does Jesus deal with them?  Notice He doesn’t deal with the woman, yet; He dealt with those men.  How did He deal with those men?  He didn’t say, “You have no authority!”  He didn’t do any of those things.  What He did was write – I wonder what He wrote down.  Here’s what I suggest.  I looked at all the commentaries; nobody knows what He wrote but here’s what I think.  What I think He did – He wrote down the Ten Commandments.  There were times in this congregation that we would have the Ten Commandments simply read, no comment; the short version of each of the Ten Commandments and then we would go to prayer.  And I would watch the people as they were being read, the Ten Commandments.  It hit every time.  And it hit these men.  And it hit these men.

You know isn’t it amazing how Hollywood cannot stay away from the Lord Jesus Christ?  There’s a new one just come out.  They cannot get away from – they don’t believe.  They would say, “What in the world?” but they’re interested.  There’s been nobody like the Lord Jesus on this earth.  Two thousand years ago.  And here’s what happens.  When these men – Cecil B. DeMille, Cecil B. DeMille, he was the first one who really dealt with it and the movie was The King of Kings.  And here’s what happened.  Cecil B. DeMille has this scene in the major thing in The King of Kings – the Lord Jesus.  And when the Lord Jesus says, “You cast the first stone you who are without sin,” and He’s writing down here, and then Cecil B. DeMille he centers on Christ kneeling there and the first thing you hear is by the feet of a guy – a stone’s dropped.  It’s like a football – boom!  And then another one – boom, boom boom!  They drop their stone and walk off.  What had happened?  Jesus had dealt with their spirit of the way they were treating this young lady without any regard for her.  She was that far from execution and they were using her.  By the way, there’s no man mentioned.  I thought it took two to tango but there’s no man mentioned.  They just caught her in the act.  I think the whole thing was set up.  You’ve got a pretty good indication the whole thing was set up.  Not only that, when they get through and bring her they have no compassion at all and they are preaching to this woman and dealing with the Lord Jesus out of arrogance and out of no compassion.  Judging and applying the Law – that’s what Jesus is dealing with.  And they drop the stone, their football, that rock, and walk off, the oldest one first.

III. Confronting the Pharisees: The Law, Conviction, and Self-Righteousness

At my age I know, I know about things.  I know about sin in the heart of man; I’m going to get around to it, but it’s there. And Jesus preached the greatest sermon ever preached, men say.  It’s called the Sermon on the Mount.  And in the seventh chapter of Matthew He says, “If you go to judge someone else be careful that if you’re going to take a speck out of their eye in judgment surgery that you don’t have a plank in your own eye.”  And that’s the attitude you have.  That’s these men – arrogant, judgmental and self-righteous.  

Okay, so what?  So this.  You took a vow just a few seconds ago – to do what?  To live before those three children as an example of Jesus Christ and to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and to help those mamas and those daddies.  So what?  Everybody in this congregation who loves my wife, Miss Jane – sweet thing, sweet thing!  Can you imagine Miss Jane screaming at me?  Not once, but over and over and over again!  You know when it takes place?  When I’m driving an automobile and I’m in the wrong lane.  I turn on the ignition and she says, “Slow down!”  That’s gone on for years!  And I mean, I don’t like the way she drives!  Now I want to say there’s real yelling, hard yelling at each other.  “Pass this truck!  Pass it!”  “We’re going the speed limit!”  But my sons, my sons are asked, “Have you ever heard your mama and daddy have a real good fight?”  Oh yes.  It happened years ago when we were in Miami on New Year’s Day.  We had a crowd of people there and she was saying, “Go get some chicken,” and I was saying, “We’re going to have hotdogs and hamburgers.”  And we had it out in front of them and they still remember it!  I mean years ago and they bring it up!  

You know there are kids in Christian homes who hear mama and daddy at each other’s throat day after day.  How about you, brother, and your family and your wife, grandmother?  And then those children, they go to school and in school they try to deal with bullying.  Do you know what bullying is?  It’s an attitude of a superior, the stronger, against the weaker.  Where do those kids get that?  They got it at home.  That’s where they got it.  And they’re hurting each other. How about the business world?  You’re called up – listen, everybody is making judgments.  I wonder how many judgments you’ve made today about this worship service just by sitting there and watching – the choir – and how many you will make afterwards and getting the roast preacher when we get home.  Everybody gives – how about the governor of New Jersey?  It’s called bullying.  What is bullying?  That’s exactly what Jesus is talking about.  

IV. For Such a Time as This: the Modern Relevance of Jesus’ Message

You think that this passage has any relevance, anything that is good for America and for you and for your home and for your life.  I believe it’s crucial for the wellbeing of Christianity, the wellbeing of your home, the wellbeing of your heart and your mama’s and your daddy’s and this church of how we deal with things in this church when we are making judgments of right and wrong as did these men.  How do you do that?  Out of humbling, humility, or out of self-righteousness?  Do you think it makes a difference in church life?  I wonder why churches split.  I wonder about the music of the church.  Does this have any relevance? You’d better believe it.  In every area of life about those who are arrogant and have the ability and those who are standing there in judgment being made out of it.  It makes all the difference in the world.  

Relevant for Sexuality 

Well, those men left and now the Lord Jesus, He’s still kneeling, and He looked up and He says, “Where are the men who condemned you?”  “They’re gone, Lord.”  “I don’t condemn you either, madam.  Go and sin no more.”  What’s that got to do with us?  What’s that got to do with us?  How about it man? Do you know what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount about adultery in the mind?  Do you know what He says?  What kind of an age do we live in?  You live in the same kind of age sexually that Jesus lived in, and it was wild and in the name of religion they had people in prostitutes in the churches and everything else.  It was, “Sex is Religion” and everybody’s got the right to it!  How does that sound for today?  How are you living like that, man?  Is there a man here who’s going to walk out there and say, “Actually, in the eyes of God I’m pure as the driven snow”?  Buddy, if you think that way you don’t know your God and it is frightening and it is a struggle.  It is a struggle when you’re saying, “Oh God, help me.”

Relevant for Marriages and Families 

And ladies, can I say, I just had these four boys.  “No problem.  Just put on blue jeans, boy.”  How you dress; how you dress.  Do you understand men, ladies?  Can you understand the pleasure and the joy if it would be that I walk out that door and I hear the Lord say to me, “I do not condemn you, John, Joe, Jim, and Matthew,” to walk out of here forgiven and for Him to say, “Buddy, let’s work with this,”?  Help me, Lord.  Help me.  What does the latter mean?  Do you understand what happening to marriage right here in our beloved state and to men and women and what has happened to marriage and little babies?  I thought about that as you were making vows – that seventy-seven percent of the children that are born today in Mississippi won’t hear anything like that.  Many of them don’t even know who their father is.  That’s the day in which you think this text has any significance, has anything to say to us.

Relevant for Each Individual 

Well I could pronounce the benediction here except for one thing.  You see, He dealt with those men, now He’s dealt with this woman.  By the way I’m sure that that woman went home and said, “Mom and dad you’ll never believe what happened.  I got saved today in more ways than one.  I called Him, ‘Lord.’  I got saved today!”  But there’s one other person that I haven’t mentioned.  His name is John, Harry, Billy, and Mary Lou, and Susie – that was the crowd that watched Jesus and the Pharisees, just like you, at this Bible study.  And they watched what happened and they knew that Jesus was saying, “I’m the Messiah.  I’m God’s answer.”  And in effect He was saying, “Make a decision. Am I a liar?  Am I a lunatic?  Or am I the Lord?”  How about it?  I was twenty-seven years old and I sat in the pew – not in a church like this but anyway, in a church, and I apparently had heard some good preaching.  And I had some stray ideas.  Anybody like that here today?  I mean wild idea about what God is like – the God I had made up in my own mind, not the God who is in John chapter 8.  And in the church, hearing a man preach, I came under conviction and I left at the age of twenty-seven and things changed.  Good guy, moral you would have said.  Oh yeah, I’m a good guy.  I wonder if there’s somebody here who’s just not certain where in the world I stand with the Lord.  How about getting it right if you really want it?  And even if you know that you’re a Christian, “God, You speak to me.  You’ve spoken to me about sins sexually and about arrogance and pride, making decisions.  I come to You.  You can have it all and You’re my Savior.  There’s no turning back, no turning back.”

May we pray together?

Heavenly Father, we thank You again for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and for the fact that without Him we could never deal with our sins and forgiveness and all these things and arrogance.  We couldn’t but You can.  By the power of the Holy Spirit You can change our hearts.  Help us, particularly on this day, for the sake of the children, to have our homes places of loving discipline, loving discipline, and purity, and may we rejoice in the name of Jesus, how sweet it sounds.  Amen and amen.

Let’s stand for the benediction, please.

The benediction is the blessing of God that comes from heaven and it is falling upon believing hearts.  What a benediction!  For it is now unto the Lord Jesus “who is able to keep you from falling,” it is now unto the Lord Jesus who is able at your death, He is able” to present you sinless before His throne of grace in heaven with exceeding great joy.  To the only wise God who is our Savior.  Unto Him,” in our hearts may He have, “glory, majesty, dominion, and power both now and forevermore.”  Amen and amen.