How Would Jesus Handle Your Worst Nightmare?
HOW WOULD JESUS HANDLE YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE?
A young boy tried to steal some gas from a man’s motor home in Seattle. He stuck his hose in the motor home and sucked hard to get the gas flowing and when Dennis Quigley the owner of the home heard the noises outside he investigated to find the thief collapsed in a heap violently vomiting. See what happened is the thief put his hose into the sewage tank instead of the gas tank. That young thief, age 14 was not prosecuted . The owner of the motor home and the police felt he had suffered enough
What’s the most horrible thing you could ever imagine happening to yourself?
Right now there’s a whole bunch of things that you are thinking about. Some of you are thinking horrible thoughts. Specific things that people might do to you. How they might speak to you or treat you. But I guess that when I say these next two words all of us are going to be on the same page. I think the most horrible thing that could happen to me and the most horrible thing that could happen to you is summed up in two words: total exposure. Interestingly, I’ve arranged some special stuff with God and we are going to show it on the video projector. Three of you have been selected for total exposure this morning. That’s what I wanted to do but God overruled it. There was some nervous laughter out there.
This morning we want to study the life of Jesus. In one of the episodes of Jesus’ life there is an incredible story that takes place in the first part of John 8.
A lot of truths here about forgiveness and the understanding of God something that most of us are in need of huge doses of.
What’s going on here in Jesus’ life?
1. Jesus was openly declaring himself to be God the Messiah
There was no ambiguity in Jesus’ mind about who he was or what he was to be about.
But he was making it crystal clear to anyone who would listen that he was God and that he had come to save his people from sin. That he had come to give them eternal life. That he had come to make them God’s children. At this point everybody was talking about Jesus. Jesus was literally the topic of the day. It seemed like everyone had an opinion that they wanted to voice about Jesus Christ. So, he was big news.
2 There Was A Great Loneliness About Him
John 7:53-8:1 (NIV) Then each went to his own home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Now I want you to understand something here. If you remember from last weeks study, this was during the feast of Tabernacles. There were thousands or perhaps millions of people that crowded into the city of Jerusalem. Every night was a party. Every night was a celebration. Every night was a gathering of friends and family. Jesus is the topic of the day. He’s there in the temple and he’s teaching. The people are all coming to him and the evening time sets in and so what happens?
Scripture says in verse 53 Then each went to his own home.
Everyone that is except for Jesus Christ.
Jesus went out to the mount of olives.
Despite the fact that he was the center of attention, no one bothered to ask Jesus to come with them to their celebration. No one bothered to say, “Jesus, why don’t you come home with me and meet my grandchildren ? We‘d love to have you tonight in our home as a guest”
So Jesus was literally left out in the cold as he walked out to the hillside of the Mount of olives as he spent the night sleeping on the ground in the cold.
Reading this passage gives new meaning to
John 1:11 (NIV) He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Here he was, God come in human form. Here he is in his own holy city of Jerusalem. Here he is in his own house, the temple of God and no one bothers to invite him home with them. No one received him.
Why would Jesus put himself through such loneliness?
Why would Jesus put himself through such emptiness?
Have you ever felt that kind of loneliness? Maybe you’re the last one chosen on the team. Or maybe you’re the last one and not even put on the team. That awful feeling of loneliness and emptiness envelopes you. A lot of times there is nothing we can do because it is our circumstances. But Jesus chose this. He could have changed the circumstances. He is God. But he came and he allowed himself to be lonely and empty and rejected. Why? Just because he loves people and he loves you and me.
We do the same thing to Jesus today don’t we? We know all about him but choose to leave him out in the cold because we’ve never allowed him to come into the home of our heart. Sometimes we say Jesus, “would you mind going out in the backyard? Could you just spend the night at the neighbors?
3. There Was Such Great Love In the Heart Of Jesus That No Amount Of Rejection Could Keep It From Coming Out.
John 8:2 (NIV)
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
This is real early in the morning. He had just spent much of the night trying to find a comfortable rack to place his head. Maybe a tree to shade himself a little bit. If you’ve slept outside, you know what it is like. The people that he is talking here that gathered around him are the same people that didn’t bother to take him home with them the night before. But he is there yet again trying yet again to convince these folks of his love and grace. To convince these folks like you and me of the love of God. How incredibly kind is this. How wonderfully patient is the Lord Jesus to come back to the very same people that said, “I’d love to talk to you but I don’t have time for you tonight.” He comes back to them and he says, “Guys, it didn’t really click yesterday, so let me try it again. I am God. I want to shower you with my grace and I want to envelop you in my love. That’s what’s up with Jesus as we come to this passage of scripture.
Right in the middle of Jesus sharing his heart and teaching his father’s truths the Pharisees walk in with this woman caught in adultery.
John 8:3 (NIV)
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group
They didn’t want justice - they were trying to trap Jesus. They were trying to impale him on the horns of a dilemma. What would He say with the crowd looking on and the woman right in front of him? If he said, “Let her go” they would have accused him of violating the law of Moses. For not keeping the Scriptures. In Lev. 20 & Deut. 22 the penalty for adultery - for sexual immorality was death. Now in Lev. 20 & Deut. 22 it doesn’t describe the death penalty exactly, but the Mishna - that is the Jewish interpretation of the law - the Mishna declared that when a person was caught in adultery - if that person was not married he or she or they were to be taken into the center of the town. Square wooden blocks were to be built. In that box cow manure was placed three feet deep. The guilty person would then stand in that box of cow manure and a cloth would be wrapped around his or her neck. A man would stand on either side of the accused individual - that condemned person and pull on either side of that cloth until that person was strangled to death. Then they were pushed face first into the manure. They were buried there and a tree was planted in that box - on that person literally that would grow in the center of that town. When young children went through town and would ask, “Mommy - daddy, why is that tree there?” Mom or dad could say, “I’ll tell you what happened on this spot many years ago. Someone committed Immorality/fornication and it cost them their life.
Believe me that would have a lasting impression on the lives of those children who saw that tree in the center of that community. The Mishna goes on to say that if a person caught in adultery was married, they were to be placed in the same kind of situation. They were to be placed in a box. Only if they were married & caught in Adultery they were not strangled with a cloth, but stoned with rocks until they too fell over face first into the box of manure. So you see the offense was a capital one.
Lev. & Deut. Both declare that death was the sentence, but there were safeguards against mistakes. For a person to be found guilty there had to be a number of witnesses to the actual act of immorality. In one case of Jewish writings where a number of people saw an immoral act take place between two folks that weren’t married, the folks were let go because the witnesses could not name the type of tree it was that underneath that tree the immoral act took place. You had to have your case tight. The stories of the witness had to collaborate perfectly. There could be no doubt about any of the details. The evidence had to be worked out perfectly and presented in a way that was unmistakable.
The Historian Josephus tells us that such an offence would be judged or punished on an average of once every seven years. Certainly such sin occurred much more frequently than that, but on the average of once every seven years the evidence was undeniable.
What’s wrong with this picture?
1. Where’s the Guy?
It takes two people to be involved with adultery. According to scripture both the man as well as the woman is guilty of this sin
Leviticus 20:10 (NIV)
10 “ ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.
The Jews had three sins that capital punishment was imposed.
Idolatry, murder and adultery
But talk about a double standard. These guys bring the woman and they totally forget about bringing the guy.
2. Where’s The Compassion
John 8:4 (NIV)
4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
Caught in the act sounds like a complete setup. It was a premeditated trap.
These religious teachers were not interested in this woman’s spiritual condition.
They were not even interested in the general righteousness of the population.
They were simply after Jesus Christ. They were there to trap him. They did whatever it took and they were willing to totally degrade and completely dehumanize this woman in order to accomplish their goal of capturing Jesus in a trap.
When it comes to the treatment of people. When we treat people as things we dehumanize them and destroy something within them in the process.
The Scribes and the Pharisees were not looking at this woman as a person but as a thing.
An instrument whereby they could formulate a charge against Jesus Christ.
They were using her as a man might use a pawn in a worthless chess game. To them she had no name, no personality, no heart. No feeling to be considered. No soul.
She was simply an expendable pawn in their strategy to corner Jesus in to a checkmate.
Whether you use people for your own pleasure or to prove your point, even a biblical point, you’re treating those people simply as things when they need to be treated as human beings who need to be loved.
Is there anyone in you’re life that you are treating not so much as a person but as a thing
Not just in your outward behavior toward them but also in your internal thoughts. If so, ask Jesus Christ to help you to change
Where’s the guy?
Where’s the compassion?
3. What’s the Reason For This?
These religious leaders really didn’t want to stone this woman, they wanted to stone Jesus Christ. Bringing her to Jesus they hoped to hook the lord on the horns of a dilemma
If he says yes stone her, then his compassion for people will be questioned and he would place himself in jeopardy with the Romans because only the Romans have authority to carry out capital punishment.
However, if he says , No, release her” then he would be assured of not supporting the law of God and totally alienating himself from all of the Jews.
The Pharisee’s ask Jesus: “Which will it be Jesus? Will you kill this woman or will you kill the law?
That’s what’s going on.
So, What did Jesus Do?
1. He Bent Down and Wrote on the Ground
John 8:6b-8 (NIV)
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 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.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Why did he do this? What did he write? We don’t actually know, however there are some good possibilities.
Some believe that he simply bent down on the ground and writing the very words that he spoke to the Pharisees. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” That may be what he was writing as they were persistent in asking him the question.
Another possibility, he may have been simply overcome with the ugliness of the whole situation. It may well have been the leering lustful look on the faces of the scribes and Pharisees ; the bleak cruelty in their eyes, the curiosity of the crowd, the shame of the woman all combined to twist the holy heart of Jesus Christ into complete agony and pity so that he had to literally advert his eyes because the horrible picture of humanity at it’s lowest point was too much for a holy God to look upon and he just had to break his gaze. It was just too sick and too perverted and too gross for Jesus Christ to even deal with.
It may have also been that he was writing in the dust the names of the very men that were accusing this woman and who were as every bit as guilty as this woman was and jotting there sins down beside their names.
Jeremiah 17:13 (NIV)
13 O LORD, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the LORD,
the spring of living water.
It may very well be that as he bent down that day, just having talked about being the fountain of living water, he was jotting down their names and right next to it their sins as well.
Whatever it was that he wrote, it pierced their hearts.
John 8:9 (NIV)
9 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.
2. He Used His Wisdom To Dismiss The Wicked
Psalm 1:5 (NIV)
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
They’re there with chests out, full of hatred and anger and they think they’ve got Jesus cornered and he just stands up and boom. They’re all of a sudden off the platform and out of the building. Those hypocrites were totally dismissed with just a few words in the ground and just a few words from his mouth.
3. He Forgives The Sinner Without Condoning Her Sin
John 8:10-11 (NIV)
10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Aren’t you glad he didn’t put here name in there? Aren’t you glad he didn’t put your name in there?
What an incredible contrast Jesus and this woman must have made. The guilty and the guiltless. The Adulteress and the Advocate. The Sinner and the Savior.
John 1:14 (NIV)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The only one supremely qualified to condemn her was Jesus, but he cares too much and he says, “neither do I condemn you.
Undoubtedly, this was the darkest moment of this woman’s life. It doesn’t get any worse than this until the light of the world baths her sin in the radiance of his glorious presence. Wow.
4. He Challenges Her To Change From Being The Worst To The Best
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
When Jesus was confronted with someone who had gone wrong, he didn’t say, “You wretch, you worthless failure.” He said, “Go and sin no more.”
He believed that with his help, the sinner could become the saint. His method was not to confront people with the knowledge they already possessed that they were miserable sinners. But to inspire them by helping them see that they were potential saints and children of God.
Instead of saying, “You dog. You filthy woman, get away from my presence.”
He says, “I forgive you” That’s the positive spin to neither do I condemn you.
Then he says, “go, and sin no more”
Maybe your saying, that’s great that Jesus forgave her. But how is she supposed to sin no more?
John 8:12 (NIV)
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Intimacy with me. Walk with me in the light. Genuine, authentic relationship of love and grace. You submitting to me and I lovingly leading you. When you do that, you will have victory in your life.
How can I do that Lord? By hanging out with me
How Does This Touch Our lives Today?
1. The Problem Of Your Own Sin Needs To Be Honestly Dealt With Before God.
Don’t ever think you sin, your worst nightmare is some sort of secret. It isn’t.
Psalm 90:8 (NIV)
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
You are not going to surprise him
But you do need to talk to him about it
Either you expose your sin to God and seek his forgiveness and seek his help or he will expose them for you just like he did this woman; just like he did these Pharisees.
The Ironic part about this is, he doesn’t want to do that.
He is not there to make us feel shamed. He is not there to envelop us in guilt.
He’s to be our Savor and He wants to give us grace.
Why don’t you get out of denial and get honest with God about the sin in your own life?
2. The Practice Of Confronting Sin In Others Calls For Humility Not Pride
Sometimes we have to deal with others who are doing wrong. It may not be our choice but it will be our responsibility
Sometimes as a father who have to deal with the wrongful actions of your children or as a mother you have to do the same.
Sometimes as a teacher you have to deal with the wrongful actions of a student in the class.
Or maybe as a Pastor you have to deal with sin in the lives of members within the Church family. It’s not something we want to do but often times it is our responsibility.
When confronting sin in others, how do you begin? We’ve got the example of Jesus and also the teachings of Gal. 6
Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV)
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ is to love God and to love your neighbor. That is the law of Christ
So when we come to confront sin in others, it’s got to be with humility and not with pride.
3. The Principle Of Correcting Wrong In Ourselves Or In Others, Begins With Forgiveness Not With Rebuke.
How many of you dads out there in the disciplining of your children wish that when they had done wrong you could just turn back the clock and take away about 90% of the rebukes that you gave?
It begins with forgiveness not with rebuke.
Psalm 78:37-38 (NIV)
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
So He toasted them
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
Everyone of us is that woman at some point in our life
Right now this morning, many of you are under a truckload of guilt and estrangement from God.
You’re the Pharisee or perhaps you’re the woman.
Jesus says to you this morning, “I forgive you.” but you have to accept that
Then he says, “Go and sin no more”
4. The Propensity For Sinners To Treat Sinners Brutally Should Help Us Understand Why People Throw Rocks At One Another.
Whatever sin is bothering me will launch out at you.
When you finally realize that you are a sinner saved by grace - it takes you out of the rock throwing business. You are no longer interested in throwing rocks.
But, if you are a sinner still trying to earn God’s favor and blessing - more righteous than the person you are sitting next to - you will be a rock thrower.
You can always tell how you’re doing by how many Rocks you throw in a given week.
John 7:53-8:1 (NIV)
53 Then each went to his own home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives to Pray for the people.
The Pharisees & religious leaders, the sin sniffers, they weren’t praying for people they were preying on people. They went to a home where they knew fornication took place. This is what happens when people do not understand Grace and the goodness of God.