John #23 On the Outside Looking In
That you may Believe and have Life #23
Well we will take one more venture into the book of John today before taking a break until the first of the year. Beginning next week we will be walking on sacred ground as we talk about the great trusts that God gives us in Time, Talents, and Treasures and what he expects in return from us. It is important for us to constantly be reminded of these truths so I hope you will be with us for these important four weeks. Then we will move into the Advent Season as we celebrate the coming of Christ as Immanuel, God with us. And before we all know it, we will be at the beginning of a new year.
With that said, let me encourage you, you do NOT want to miss next Sunday. I promise you that next Sunday you will see something that you have most likely never seen on a Sunday in Church. I have been attending church faithfully for nearly 43 years and while I HAVE heard of it in rare cases, nevertheless, I have never personally experienced it.
What is it? You will have to be with us next Sunday to see. But don't miss it. I am NOT be facetious but very serious, this is a unique opportunity to be a part of a month long illustration of the Truth of God's word. If you miss next Sunday you will miss something exciting.
Now with that said, let's press forward into a very interesting passage for many reasons
As we begin, I think of two important verses that will help us understand today's passage … the first is John 1:14 - the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the one and only who came from the Father, FULL OF GRACE and TRUTH
Yes that's how Jesus came FULL of BOTH Grace AND truth.
And also remember that the WORLD System, at whose heart is the work of Satan, seeks always to force us into it's pattern
Romans 12:1 says be not conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …
Forgiveness and Transformation is what Jesus is about
John Chapter 8 begins with a passage with much to teach us and many questions … we must begin with verse 53 of chapter 7.
READ 7:53 - 8:11
Now I need to spend a few minutes talking about this passage, then I want to describe this story again, and then I will make some quick but critical observations to lead our understanding as a church and as individuals of the important teachings
Here is the " problem", if you will. This passage, most all scholars will agree … does not appear in the oldest of Greek Manuscripts available to us today.
Not only that, but some of the earliest writers do not refer to the story.
So it begs the question, did this really happen in the life of Christ?
Does it belong in the Bible? Does it belong here? Why do we study it?
Well I'll give you the bottom line from my study and from the many scholars who have weighed in over the years …
Most if not all scholars believe that this is a real … albeit lost for a time account of a historical event in the life of Christ … So, does it belong in the gospels? IF it is true, yes it fits the message and purpose of the gospel, the only problem is not knowing the author.
Does it belong here in this place in John? There is much debate over this question. In the older texts, it has been placed in roughly five different places four others in John and one other in Luke. Some say that the writing style doesn't fit John and others say it better fits Luke. While still others say it fits fine right here, others say no. I think there are good arguments on both sides
Why do we study it? Because we believe it DID happen in the Life of Christ. And, because we can see ourselves, in different ways in this story and there is much for us to learn about ministry, about life, about ourselves, and our Lord.
Jesus comes back into the Temple after spending the night on the Mount of Olives … bet you didn't realize Jesus was a camper huh? …
He is teaching. He was seated in the Court of the Women, that is the part of the Temple where all of Israel could enter.
That's where this spectacle begins. You can imagine them dragging this woman … disheveled, clothes thrown on, tossing her into the midst of those listening to the famous teacher and then offering a question meant to catch him.
If John DID write this story, it would follow his pattern of often explaining a situation from the 20/20 hindsight. He says in verse 6 "they were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.”
Can't you hear the venom in their voice. They had previously called Jesus a deceiver and now the call him "Teacher". It is as if they are saying … "teach us something about the law" …
Then referring to their victim … "THIS woman was caught in the act … the law of MOSES, (namedropping) says stone her … what do you say"
What was the trap?
If Jesus said NO, then he disagreed with Moses and the people would revolt
If he said YES, then he broke the Roman law which enabled them alone to pronounce a death penalty
So, they HAD him … either we discredit him with the people or we convict him with Rome …
I want to ask something? Where was the MAN?
They were standing on the letter of the law of Moses, but Lev. 20:10; Dt. 22:22 call for BOTH man and woman to be given the same punishment of death. If "caught in the act" where is he? One writer suggested that perhaps he was in on the scheme. But perhaps the fact that they were not interested in fair, true, equal justice is why Jesus had no patience for their request for action …
But Jesus doesn't get into a legal discussion with them.
He did a little writing.
While he was writing, "they kept on questioning him" probably more loudly, more agitated that he seemed to be ignoring them.
He said "IF any ONE of you is without sin, let him be the FIRST to throw a stone at her."
Dt. 17:7 required the witnesses of offense to be the first to commence the stone throwing, AND if it finds that they were not truthful, THEY will themselves bear the stoning.
But Jesus takes it further, you who are without sin, cast the first stone.
Could it be, that there in the sand, Jesus was just making a little list of sins? Could it be that perhaps he wrote out the 10 commandments. The 10th commandments says you are not to covet your neighbor’s wife, goods, or property … so desiring was equal to the commandment against the act of adultery.
Either way, with the writing in the sand, Jesus says "who is sinless … step up and throw"
The finger of God wrote the 10 commandments and who but the finger Immanuel, God with Us, to interpret the Law of God
Perhaps Jesus was holding out a stone ready for them to start up
But before anyone gets caught up in self-righteousness, he bends over and starts writing again
What could he have written differently?
Did he continue adding to his list, more sins, more commandments?
Or could it be that he was beginning to put down names next to the sins?
First names …
And they began to go away, one at a time, the older first, until Jesus was the only one left with the woman
Jesus was always wonderful at teaching lessons, using drama fully, allowing the situation to paint the picture as much as anything else
There was just Jesus and the Woman left …
You know when it comes down to it, I will have no accusers nor supporters standing with me, it will just be me and Jesus and that is the only interaction that matters …
And Jesus stands up again and she stands before him and he asks
“WOMAN” - no understand … they called her "THIS woman" which was a very derogatory way to say it … but Jesus dropped the definer "THIS" and called her simply calls her
“Woman” … which in that day, in that way was a sign of HONOR not of disrespect.
It was like calling her something like "Madame, or Mame …"
And he asks
"Where are they?"
"Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, Lord"
"Go now and leave your life of sin"
A beautiful story, that stands very much on its own … so I will not spend a lot of time explaining it … but there are some things that I think we must see
If we are going to be a church like Christ, we have to recognize some things from this passage.
Let me point them out quickly …
1. Jesus Knows Being an Outsider
Maybe you have felt like an outsider before you came to Christ. Perhaps you are here today and you feel like an outsider when it comes to the things of God or to the Church … well
Jesus Understands …
A. Didn't have a Place to Stay
Verse 53 says "then each went to his own home … verse 1 says But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives"
He didn't even have a friend’s house to go to?
More likely he was forced to solitude for his safety and that of those who might have housed him. We know he went to the feast of tabernacles in secret … because he
B. Avoided those who would come against him
Jesus camped on the Mt. of Olives. A little camp fire, some smores, some all beef hotdogs … think about it … J
Paul reminds us that most of us were outsiders too … and if we are not careful we can become Pharisees thinking we are something special but in his first letter to the Corinthians Paul says "think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential; not many were of noble birth … but God chose the foolish things … the weak things … the lowly things … and the despised things … so that no one may boast before him."
1 Cor. 1:26-29
Jesus understands being an outsider …
2. Jesus Understands What Makes Us Outsiders
A. The Law Makes Us Aware we are Outsiders
Romans 3:10-20 (NIV)
10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." 13 "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
The law makes us aware that we are outsiders … it made us aware of our sin … and our sin separates us from God
All of us have sinned and our sin makes us an outsider from God which is the worst place to be.
There is a remedy for that … but unfortunately sometimes in the church we manipulate situations
B. Tradition tries to Force us In or further Out
1. Tradition in Religion wants conformity or cast off
2. they went from calling Jesus “deceiver” in the last chapter to “teacher” in this … trying to force him inside with them …
3. But no matter what the Pharisees or other defenders of tradition think, you can't force your way INSIDE with God. You can't declare yourself in, either.
4. But tradition will also push you further out if you aren't willing to conform …
5. we have to be careful church that we don't try to force people without Christ into our image BEFORE they come to Christ. Folks, people who don't know Christ. ACT like people who don't know Christ. Don't let your religious pride and desire for personal holiness make you untouchable, unreal, unwilling to mix with people who aren't like us.
6. But also, we shouldn't be trying to conform them to our image when they COME to Christ anyway … we out to be encouraging them, praying for them walking hand in hand with them as we are all conformed day by day with every increasing likeness into the image of Christ Jesus.
Jesus knows why we are outsiders … it is NOT because we aren't following a religious pattern … it is because we are sinners … and that woman was a sinner but those Pharisees were sinners and they both only had ONE hope … and that was the man they all faced …
And the good news if we will embrace it is that …
3. Jesus Accepts Repentant Outsiders and Brings Us In
We all have sinned … we all are outsiders …
A. We Have All Been "Taken in the Act of …"
1. fill in the blank …
2. we are all red handed, all caught in the act, all born into sin …
3. we have all come short of the glory of God and we are OUT … in need of coming IN
4. so we must confess our sin … and the good news is
Psalm 130:4 (NIV)
4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
5. Jesus Christ did not give up his heavenly rights in Heaven, humble himself to become a servant, to KEEP us Out … His ministry was one of reconciliation … that is bringing TWO separated things together.
2 Cor. 5:19 says God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.
Romans 5:11 we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation
6. We have been brought in, WE were sinners, WE were no better than this woman or anyone you might consider the worst of sinner … we were the same and God brought US In … Praise the Lord? Can I get a Hallelujah? You have been brought IN, I have been brought In.
And when we understand the goodness of Christ in bringing us in
B. Understanding makes us Compassionate
1. If we are elitist or prideful in our salvation, we don't understand it …
2. if we are then we don't understand the commission that goes with our salvation … Back to Romans 5
Romans 5:9-10 (NIV)
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Ohh … isn't that good news?
Back to 2 Cor. 5
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NIV)
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We've got work to do …
We have a message share
We have GOOD NEWS!!!!!
Jesus understand being an outsider
Jesus understands WHY we are
Jesus accepts repentant outsiders and brings us in …
But finally …
4. Jesus Expects Grateful Insiders
Jesus stands up finds the woman standing alone …
Where are your accusers? GONE
Does anyone condemn you? NO
Then, neither do I Condemn
Remember Jesus said in John 3 … God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world … whoever does not believe stands condemned already
Jesus did NOT declare her innocent of the accusation, he just said I do not condemn you …
Remember … Jesus Christ came FULL of Grace and Truth
Grace says, "I don't condemn you …"
His Grace says "your sins are forgiven"
Her response to grace is to see him as Lord …
But with the Grace also comes Truth
Go Now and leave your Life of Sin
The greatest thing we can do in grateful response to being reconciled is to be …
She had a life of sin
But all of our lives are lives of sin, when we don't know Christ …
Jesus said … LEAVE it …
Not … an expectation to never sin again, but an expectation of a life that recognizes the folly of sin and pursues Christ
Psalm 85:8 (NIV)
8 I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints- but let them not return to folly.
Isaiah 55:7 (NIV)
7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
We have been forgiven … we have been reconciled …
In gratitude we walk in Grace through Obedience … and we don't withdraw from the world and live a secluded life … no we are still
1. forgiven, we GO, living in Grace, Living a life of Love, living an example to a longing and watching world
2. we go singing "amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I'm found was blind but now I see"
3. You think this woman told anyone what happened to her that day?
Oh I need to close, but let me read you a verse I found this week …
Jeremiah 17:13-14 (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. 14 Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
The Lion Sermon
There is a curious service held in an old church in the city of London. On October 16th, every year, is preached in St. Catherine Church, Leadenhall street, what is called the "Lion Sermon." It has been preached every year in that same church for the last two hundred and fifty years (as of 1890).
If you want to be present, and would go a little earlier than the hour, you would hear the most lovely chime of bells-a chime beginning in the "Sun of my Soul," "Abide with me," "The Happy Land," and the like. Then there is the service, made very short; then the event of the evening-the sermon, the "Lion Sermon."
The story: In the 1600’s There was once in the city a very pious man called Sir John Gayre (or Gair). At one time he was Lord Mayor of London. Sir John happened to be in Asia at one period of his life, and when with his caravan, was traveling through a desert place, he found himself face to face alone with a lion. Everybody of his company who could have helped him had gone forward. Sir John knew that only God could deliver him. He thought of Daniel in the den of lions. He perhaps thought of Paul, who at one time expected to meet an Emperor who was as cruel as a lion. And he fell on his knees there before the beast and shut his eyes and cried to God to shut the mouth of the lion.
When he had finished his prayer and opened his eyes, the lion was nowhere to be seen. So when he came back to London he set aside a sum of money to be given away in gifts to poor people every October 15th and to secure that a sermon should be preached to tell the generations to come how God had heard his prayer and delivered him from the mouth of the lion.
You know Folks … we were caught in the act, guilty as charged … in the mouths of one who prowls like a roaring lion … And when we closed our eyes in a prayer of repentance, we opened our eyes and the little pretend lion was gone, replaced by the Lion of the tribe of Judah …
Don't you think we ought to tell somebody?
You think maybe on the anniversary of that date every year you could tell somebody?
How about the monthly day, could you tell somebody.
If you don't remember what the exact date was, do you know the month?
Then select your birthday date in the month of your salvation, and on that day … tell someone somewhere, your neighbor, your waitress, your mailman …
I will take the challenge, will you?
For me that will be on the 9th
I've already put it in my day planner …