John Message #24 “The Woman Taken in Adultery” Ed Miller, May 29, 2024

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I have a couple of Bible verses I want to share.  Isaiah 51:9&10 says, “Awake! Awake! Put on strength, oh arm of the Lord.  Was it not Thou who dried up the sea, who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over?”  “The arm of the Lord,” that expression, is a title for Messiah.  “Awake, arm of the Lord!”  And then Isaiah 52:10, “The Lord has bared His holy arm.”  I used to think that meant that God rolled up His sleeve and bared His arm and showed His might, but it’s not.  It’s that He bared His arm, that is, He revealed His arm.  And then Isaiah 53:1, and with this we’ll go to prayer, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”  The arm of the Lord is a Person and delights to bare His arm and make Himself known and to whom has He been revealed?  Let’s pray that He reveals Himself to us.

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your precious word, and thank You for gathering Your flock here today, and we just pray, by the indwelling Holy Spirit You would turn our eyes afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank You that we can count on You to do this.  Meet us where we are and take us where You would have us.  Fill us each according to our capacity, and we ask in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.

Welcome to our study, again, in the gospel of John.  I say “in the gospel” because even though we’re studying in the gospel, this is not a study of the gospel; this is a study of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Every time we gather we want to behold the Lord, and as John Himself said, he wrote this, “So that we might know Him more intimately.”  So, it’s all about knowing Him.

In our meditation together, we’ve come to the end of John 7, and I remind you of the context, John 7:2, “Now the feast of the Jews, the feast of booths, was near.”  What is recorded in this chapter took place during the Feast of Tabernacles, during the Feast of Booths, during that Feast of the Ingathering, but it’s not about the feast; it’s just what happened at that time.  The most important revelation at the feast took place the last day of the feast, the eighth day, and it’s called the great day.  John 7:37-38, “On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’”  As we pointed out a couple of weeks ago in our last session, this statement is the full picture of what it means for those who come to Jesus to satisfy their spiritual thirst.  What He told the woman of Samaria, John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water I will give him shall never thirst, but the water I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.”  Part of having your thirst satisfied is the well within bubbling up like He promised that woman of Samaria.  Then in John 7:38 you get the rest of the picture, “He who believes in me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’”  He satisfies my thirst and puts a fountain within and then He satisfies the thirst of others, and He lets the river flow out as He manifests Christ.  So, we’re satisfied and everyone is satisfied.

When we closed a couple of weeks ago, I gave two Old Testament pictures.  I’m not going to teach it again, but I’ll just review two Old Testament pictures that picture this living water flowing out.  The first was the smitten rock, Isaiah 48:21 refers to it, “They did not thirst when He led them through the desert; He made the water flow out of the rock for them; he split the rock and the water gushed forth.”  Sometimes when we see that Exodus story, Moses striking the rock, we don’t have the full Bible picture.  That river that came out of that rock did not flow for an hour or for a day.  It flowed for thirty-eight years.  That river followed them.  They were never thirsty all through their trip in the wilderness.  You never hear them again complaining of thirst, until at the end when he shut off the spigot because he had to teach the second generation the same truth and how to speak to the living rock, and so on.  That’s the first picture, rivers coming out of Christ for years and years and years.

Then we looked at Ezekiel 47, the river that was flowing out from under the temple.  You know that the temple is a picture of the people of God; you are the temple and I am the temple, we are the temple of God.  The living water flowed out from the temple.  I’ll remind you that graphic scene that Ezekiel saw.  The angel took Ezekiel into the water that was flowing from the temple.  At first, he was up to his ankles, and then he was up to his knees, and then he was up to his loins, and then he was up to his neck and he began to tread water, and finally Ezekiel 47:6 says, “’Son of man, have you seen this?’ And He brought me back to the bank of the river.”  Ezekiel could not ford the river.  It was so strong and it was so powerful and the current was so amazing that Ezekiel was about to be swept away.   The river is the life of God, and as that life of God was flowing, he was over his head, and he was taken by the grace of God to the bank of the river where he became an observer, where he became a spectator, where he became a witness, where he could see.  The temple still pictures Ezekiel, the people of God, and the water is coming out from God’s people but now Ezekiel is standing on the shore, so he is observing the life of God from the bank.  When he was in the water, and his ankles and his knees and his loins and up to his chin, everything was about survival, everything was about balance, everything was about standing up, until he was treading water.  It’s all about Ezekiel. 

It’s exciting, you know, going deeper into the life of God.  When you first become a Christian, you are at your ankles, then you get up to your knees and you get up to your loins and so on.  It’s wonderful to go deeper and deeper, but after a while you find out, “This is too much; I can’t stand and I’m going to lose my balance.”  It was such an effort for him to keep his balance.  Actually, it was easier for him when he was first put in the river, when he was up to his ankles.  It’s easier to stand, but after you become a Christian for a while and you begin to see the life of God, it doesn’t get easier, and it gets more impossible, so what the Lord does, it’s a wonderful thing, once you see that you can’t survive in the life of God, God says, “Now finally, I’ll take you out of that water, and I’ll let you just watch what I can do through you.”  All the effort is gone and all the ability to keep your balance is gone, and now you just look and look. 

I’ll not develop it again, but what did Ezekiel see from the shore, as God flowed through his life?  The answer is that he saw Life; he saw a river of Life.  Everything the water touched, lived.  The water touched the trees, and the trees began to bear fruit.  Ezekiel saw where the goal was, and that water went all the way down to the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on the earth, and a miracle took place, that salt water, that brine, that sulfur turned to fresh water, and the fish began to live in it, and so prolific was that Dead Sea, that fishing communities began to build up all around that Dead Sea.  What a mighty miracle it was!  That’s all a picture, but it’s what Jesus said the last day of the feast, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink, and he’ll experience a fountain within, and he’ll experience without and he’ll see Life, the manifestation of Christ.”  Once again, verse 37, “On the last day of the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’”

I want to leave that; that’s sort of a review, but before we leave, I feel inclined of the Lord to ask, “Where are you in your Christian life?”  Don’t answer, but I just want you to think about it?.  Are you still struggling to keep your head above the water?  Are you up to your ankles or up to your knees or up to your loins, or has the grace of God taught you what it means to let Him take you out and stand on the shore and let you be who you are, and be yourself and watch what God can do through you.  That’s what he longs to do, to make you and make me a worshipping spectator standing in awe as we behold his life manifest through us. 

Try to get the wonder of that; you are pictured by the temple, and I’m pictured by the temple, filled with His life, and we can’t contain, and it’s got to come out.  I hope God lets that sink in, that He indwells you and you are His temple.  Look at yourself and just remember.  Look at yourself as you are, and then remember how you once were, and how thousands still are.  This is an amazing revelation!  How could He choose us?  How could He choose me?  How could He choose you?  There is no more glorious workmanship that’s ever done to the human heart than when He can take this Dead Sea and turn it to fresh water.  He can take your Dead Sea and turn it to fresh water.  Did He come all the way from heaven to live in you?  Did He come all the way from heaven to live in me?  I know who I am.  My natural heart is dirty and sinful and rebellious.  It’s a wonder of wonders that He should choose any of us in this room.  We ought to be praising God.  I know who I am, and I think of what I was, and where I would be today if He hadn’t rescued me.  So, that’s what He shouted that last day, “If anyone is thirsty, let’s have this wonderful miracle.”  It happened to me and I know it’s happened to you, and we can just bless the Lord for it.  Because He’s rescued me and put me on the shore, I promise you that He’ll never hear the end of it.  I’m going to praise Him all of my days, and when I get to heaven, I’ll keep on praising Him.  Anyway, that’s where we left off a couple of weeks ago.

What I’d like to do is finish chapter 7 and begin to introduce chapter 8.  The remaining verses in chapter 7 are verses 40-53.  In this section we get some of the mixed reaction to all that took place there at the feast.  John 7:40, “Some of the people therefore when they heard these words were saying, ‘This certainly is the prophet.’  Others were saying, ‘This is the Christ.’”  And then verse 43, “So, a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.”  There’s a current that runs through this last section, through these final verses, and it actually began in chapter 5, like Ezekiel’s river, it’s going to get deeper and deeper and deeper.  The current I’m referring to, and you’ll see it when we come to chapter 8, is that the rejection is getting more and more serious, increasing, more opposition.  From chapter 5 on that rejection of Christ is growing and is getting deeper and deeper. 

I’d like to introduce this emphasis which we’re going to see here and in the coming chapter.  I want to use an Old Testament verse just to give you the flavor of it.  Psalm 33:10&11, “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations.  He frustrates the plans of the people.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.”  That same truth is in Proverbs 19:21, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.”  There is a growing opposition, but you can’t oppose the Lord.  He’s going to get His way; He’s going to accomplish His purposes.  Satan is never winning; He cannot win.  Man is never winning; he cannot win.  God is always ruling or overruling, ruling the good, overruling the evil.  That’s a great Bible truth.

Sebastian is not here today, so he won’t get proud when I quote him.  Sebastian has a daily devotion and prayer that he has on Facebook, and there are hundreds of people who get it.  He’s been doing it for years every day, and everyone of his devotionals and everyone of his prayers ends the same way, two words, “God wins.”  Every time I read it and I come to that, my heart just thrills because God wins.  So, we’re going to see God’s sovereign control ruling and overruling and frustrating the opposition, and that principle applies universally, internationally, nationally, in the church corporately, in the individual individually, God rules and He always gets His way. 

Let me give an example here from the end.  John 7:31, “Many of the crowd believed in Him and they were saying, ‘When Christ comes, he’ll not perform more signs than these which this man has, will He?’  And the Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to seize Him.”  The chief priests and Pharisees were given considerable permission by Rome to rules and govern.  They couldn’t do everything but they had their own officers, their own arresting officers, the chief priests and the scribes were the commanding officers.  They commanded their servants to go and take Him by force.  The Greek word “seize Him” just shows the force, “You go arrest Him by force.”  John 7:44, “Some of them wanted to seize Him but no one laid hands on Him.”  They wanted to take Him by force; they wanted to arrest Him.  We know the real reason, and it’s in verse 30, “They were seeking to seize Him, and no man laid his hand on Him because His hour had not yet come.”  You see, who is in charge of this?  It’s always the Lord.

I had to laugh when I saw the arresting officers return to give a report to their commanding officers, verse 45, “The officers came to the chief priests and pharisees and they said to them, ‘Why did you not bring Him?  We sent you to arrest Him and take Him by force.’”  I see the providential power of the Lord in two ways here.  Number one, His restraining power; they couldn’t because His hour hadn’t come.  But then there’s another evidence, and it’s seen in the answer that they gave.  I would have loved to have been there and seen the looks on the commanding officers’ faces when they gave this answer.  John 7:46, “The officers answered, ‘Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.’”  “Go arrest Him.”  “I tried.”  “Why didn’t you arrest Him?”  He said, “Nobody speaks like that.”  Just think about that reason that they gave.  They were anxious to arrest Him.  I see the power of God in this because they told the truth.  I was amazed that these commanding officers told the truth.  These guys had no moral standards.  Why didn’t they lie?  If they sent me out to arrest Jesus and then they said, “Why didn’t you take Him?”  I would say, “Well, you don’t understand.  We couldn’t arrest Him; it’s too dangerous. It’s the end of the feast and there are a hundred thousand people and he has so many people following Him, and we don’t want to cause trouble. The Roman government would have been all over us if we tried to arrest.  You know they won’t tolerate public unrest.”  So, I would have lied if I were them, but they told the truth, and they knew it.  John 7:47, “The Pharisees then answered them, ‘You have not also been led astray, have you?  No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?  But this crowd that does not know the Law is accursed.’”  I’m going to put it in my own words.  The Pharisees said, “You blind idiots, why don’t you look at us?  We are the religious leaders and we’re not following that deceiver and we’re not listening to His words.  This crowd is just sheep and they’re all accursed.  The only ones not accursed is us; you should follows us.  What is wrong with you?”  So, He’s in absolute control, and they can’t because His hour has not yet come, and they can’t because He’s working in these people, these servants.

At this point He’s not only showing that He overrules the enemy, but He also is working with His people.  It’s not only the feast coming to an end, but He’s wrapping everything up.  At this point He brings up Nicodemus.  He’s the Pharisee that came to Jesus by night in chapter 3.  We need to remember that to these eyes on the level of earth he’s part of the Sanhedrin; he’s a Pharisee and part of that high court.  He was one of them on the outside.  Three times in John God mentions Nicodemus; once in chapter 3, once in chapter 7 and once in chapter 19, and you can actually see a development in his faith. In chapter 3 when he first came to the Lord, he’s like up to his ankles and he’s just starting out.  And then in John 7:50 he’s up to his chin, “Nicodemus, he who came to Him before, being one of them, said to them, ‘Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?’”  He tries to cover it up and pretend he’s defending the Law of God, “Our Law does not allow this kind of things that you’re doing.”  They saw right through it.  They knew what was going on in Nicodemus’ heart; he’s not just defending the Law, he’s defending Jesus.  In verse 52 they answered, “You are not also from Galilee, are you?  See that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”  They suspected him of being one of the followers of Christ.

Finally, God brings him up to the bank and in chapter 19 he just observed; he comes out and he’s public.  John 19:39, “Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes and about one-hundred-pound weight.  So, they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen, wrapping it with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.”  God has patiently dealt with Nicodemus, and now he’s public and he comes out.  John 7:53, the chapter ends, “Everyone went to his home.”  Some people think that in chapter 8 the Feast of the Tabernacles continued, and when He says, “I’m the light of the world, that He taught that at the Feast of Tabernacles, but I take that everybody went home in chapter 7.  So, that’s how I look at it.

Now we come to chapter 8, and I need to begin by telling you that there’s a textual problem.  Actually, it’s the last verse of chapter 7:53 all the way to chapter 8:11.  For those who are earnest Bible students, you need to know that there are some honest textual critics.  In other words, they want the truth.  So, they go out and they know the manuscripts and they study the original languages, and so on.  But there, also, dishonest textual critics, and they use scholarship and so on trying to undermine the word of God.  You’re never wrong being informed; you don’t need to fear any textual observation.  I’m not certain that you’re even aware of this manuscript problem, but most people, I don’t know what version you are using, but I’ll almost guarantee that they’ve noted this manuscript problem.  Chapter 7:53- 8:11 every earnest Bible student should be aware of this problem.  Now I’m going to tell you about the problem.

In my Bible this section is in brackets, and that’s just to let you know there’s something about this.  The RSV and the Williams New Testament and the New English Bible it’s not even in their Bible.  You open up their Bibles and this chapter starts with verse 12.  It doesn’t even begin with 1-11.  The NIV has a note at the beginning of the chapter that tells you that it’s a problem.  Phillips puts it at the end and tells you about it.  Moffett calls this section, “A fragment of primitive tradition.”  Some people don’t accept this.  As you may know, chapter 7:53-8:11 is not the only place in the New Testament where there are textual problems.  Maybe you are familiar with Mark 16:9-20 and 1 John 5:7&8; there are other places. 

Why do some question the authority of this section?  I think I’ve narrowed it down to the four main reasons; I’ve read all of their silly arguments.  Number one, these verses do not appear in the oldest manuscripts that we have found; it doesn’t appear in three.  It appears in thousands but not the earliest manuscripts, and so they say, “If it’s not in earliest…,” but we don’t have the original.  So, that’s one reason that they give.  The second is, “This doesn’t sound like John; he changes his style, so this has to be somebody else.  John didn’t write this.”  The third reason they give is that it’s just thrown in there; there’s no connection between what’s going before and what follows, they say; there’s wonderful connection.  And then lastly they say, “This makes Jesus look weak on sin because it’s a woman that committed adultery and just let her go free, and it makes Him look weak.”  Just for the record, and I don’t know where you stand on this, I personally have no problem with this passage of scripture, and I have  no problem with any passage in the New Testament where there is textual difficulty.  I believe God providentially protected the canon of scripture so that the Bible you hold in your hand, you can trust it, and you can trust every word of it.  God watched over it and the Bible we have.

I’m not denying the scholarship.  It’s like dinosaur bones; I don’t deny the bones, but I do deny the interpretation of some of those bones.  It’s like psychology.  Psychology is a legitimate study of human behavior; I don’t deny the science but I’ll tell you I deny the interpretation because they leave sin out, and how in the world are you going to explain human behavior if you leave sin out?  For my heart I believe these verses are every bit as inspired as John 3:16, so we’re going to look at it that way.  I will say this, in dealing with others who might have a problem with this, I’m not going to base a doctrine on a disputed text, only because I want to give them certainty.  Faith doesn’t develop through possibility or probability, so I want to give certainty; I want to proclaim the truth. 

For example, I’ve heard this argument; it sounds like our country today.  John 8:7, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.”  So, they say the principles that is taught in Deuteronomy 17:7, the first accuser is supposed to throw the stone.  Since Jesus said, “You can’t throw a stone unless you’re perfect, therefore, we’ve got to let the offender go free.”  A judge can’t judge him.  What right does he have?  He’s a sinner, and so just let them go free.  Our society sadly tolerates lawlessness like crazy, more and more and more.  That doctrine needs the balance of scripture.  When you come to a Bible truth it’s got to be true in all of the scripture.  I’ll encourage you to study this to see Jesus; that’s what we’re going to do.  But don’t use verses in there to prove a point when it can be proved somewhere else.

Now, those who say that there is no connection in the context, that the flow is not there and it’s just thrown in, as I showed you, starting from chapter 5 there is a growing rejection of Christ, and now in chapter 8 it’s connected; there’s a growing rejection of Christ.  This adulterous woman is only the occasion for this further opposition.  Let me just get this scene before you because sometimes we miss some of these little details.  John 8:2, “Early in the morning He came again to the temple, and all the people were coming to Him.  He sat down and began to teach.”  Just look around; I’m sitting down and I’m trying to teach.  The point is that when the scribes and Pharisees came, they interrupted a Bible study.  He was having a Bible study and people were sitting all around Him.  Sometimes we think this story is just Jesus, the woman and the Pharisees and scribes; it is not.  This scene interrupted the Bible study and those big-wig religious people came in and just interrupted the study and said, “Now, we’ve got a theological question, and since we are the religious leaders, we’re taking over this Bible study.”

Let’s look at the story.  This time they didn’t come to seize Him, they didn’t come to arrest Him by force, but they’re still out to get Him.  I love Psalm 55:21, “His speech was smoother than butter, but His heart war.  His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawing swords.”  On the outside they look so wonderful.  In verse 4 in the KJV the word is “master” but in the NAS, “They said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery in the very act.’”  They pretend they’re coming to learn something.   They’re not coming to learn anything.  “You’re the guide, teacher, and you can set us straight.  We’ve got a problem.  Will you please help us?” 

God tell us why they came, verse 6, “They were saying this testing Him, so that they might have grounds to accuse Him.  The opposition is getting more subtle, but they’re still opposing Him.  They didn’t come to learn anything; they came to ensnare the Lord Jesus and to trap Him.  Look in John 8:5, “Now, in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  What do you then say?”  Well, they aren’t only religious and proud people, but take your Bible and go to the Law of Moses and see if you could come up with any verse anywhere it says to stone the adulterer.  That’s not in the Bible.  That’s in their tradition.  That it’s a capital offense, that’s in the Bible, but the means of dealing with it, stoning them, that was just in their tradition.  The Law does say that it’s a capital crime.  Jesus often went against their tradition.  When you go through Matthew, “You have heard that it was said… but I say…”  When He says, “You have heard that it was said,” He’s always going to their tradition.  That’s not in the Bible; that’s what you say, but “I say”. 

It’s clear that this was a set-up, or they would have brought both the guilty man and the guilty woman.  Every now and then, I use memory aids.  These days I’m forgetting everything, if you don’t believe me, if you want to find my telephone, it’s in the refrigerator.  That’s what I did.  So, I use aids; I use memory aids.  One memory aid, it’s silly but it helps me remember.  I don’t have a gun, but I’ve heard the name of some guns, and some guns are named from the inside measurement of the barrel, 22 caliber, the size of the bullet that will go through.  When someone says “22” I think of a gun.  Here’s what I say, “Deuteronomy 22:22,” and it’s a memory aid, but it’s two guns.  Okay, listen to Deuteronomy 22:22, “If a man is found lying with a married woman, both of them shall die—the man who laid with the woman and the woman.  Thus, you shall purge evil from Israel.”  So, they are both to come, and not just the woman.  This was a setup, and it was to trap the Lord Jesus.  The Bible says that they were trying to accuse the Lord.  What was the text?  What were they trying to accuse Him of?  Clearly, they were pitting Jesus against Moses.  There’s no question about that.  It’s not the first time.  When it’s Sabbath or circumcision, marriage, divorce, they’re constantly going to the Law to have Jesus stand against the Law. 

If Jesus didn’t stone her, he’d be against Moses and weak on justice.  If He did say, “Stone her,” then where is His compassion and His love?  But it wasn’t only to set Him up against Moses; it was to set Him up against Rome.  How so?  John 18:31, “Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourself and judge Him according to your Law.’  And the Jews said to him, ‘We’re not permitted to put anyone to death.’”  They thought they had the perfect trap, that if He disagreed, He’s against Moses, and if He agreed He’s against Rome.  “We’ve got Him; we’ve got Him in a trap.”  I think one of the most interesting parts of this story is verse 6, “They were saying this, testing Him so that they might have grounds for accusing Him.  Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.”  Don’t get sidetracked here and don’t get into what did He write on the ground.  We don’t know that; it’s speculation only.  Some people think He was writing their sins on the ground.  If you take the KJV in Jeremiah 17:13, “He will write their sins on the earth.”  If you are a guilty Jew committing the same sin, it was an adulterous generation, and He started naming Rabbi Ben Levi and He gave an address and He gave a date.  You better believe you would walk out of there. 

We don’t know what He was writing.  Some think He was just doodling to keep the victim, the woman, from further embarrassment, because she was caught in the act and I don’t think she was dressed very well, so it was embarrassing for her.  Tom Wontrop had a simple answer.  He said, “Jesus is God and He wrote on the ground, and it’s the word of God.”  Whatever He wrote we don’t know.  But I think one key to understanding this section is verse 7, “When they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up.”  Nobody knows what He wrote; that’s only a guess.  Clearly, He was ignoring them.  That’s why they persisted in asking Him over and over.  These are proud religious leaders.  They came in the middle of a Bible study and broke up the whole Bible study, and He just turned away and begins to write on the ground.  I’m not sure it’s the ground because we learn that He was in the temple and it would have been a stone base where we think He was.

Anyway, it’s insulting if someone is trying to talk to you and you don’t look them in the eye.  When I went to the wedding, I was talking to my deaf son and he was telling me about his adopted grandson when he was in a season of terrible rebellion.  You’ve got to understand that he’s totally deaf, his grandson, and John was trying to correct him, and so what he did was, he not only closed his eyes but he put his hands over his eyes.  If you have somebody totally deaf and someone is blocking his eyes, and John was very irrate, and he went and shook him and he said, “When I’m signing to you, you look at me.”  I think that’s what’s happening here.  Jesus is just ignoring these people, and they are a proud people and they keep asking and He just ignores them, and finally He looks up and He answers.

This section not only shows how the Lord frustrates the enemy, but it’s a revelation of Christ, and that’s why you’re here, and that’s why I’m here.  How does this story put a spotlight on our Lord Jesus, and that’s what I’d like to look at.  John 8:7, “When they persisted asking Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.”  Who was the only one in that group that was qualified to throw a stone?  Think about it.  None of the religious leaders were qualified.  Nobody that attended the Bible study was qualified. That poor victim wasn’t qualified to commit suicide.  The only one was the Lord Jesus; He was the only One without sin.  That very chapter asks this question to the enemy, John 8:46, “Which one of you convicts me of sin?  If I speak truth, why do you not believe?”  He had just accused them of being of their father the devil, so we know they are not believers. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, only a sinless Savior will do you any good, and only a sinless Savior will do me any good.  Hebrews 4:15, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things, as we are, yet without sin.”  I want you to picture this scene and maybe put yourself into it, a guilty sinner in the presence of the only One in the universe qualified to condemn; she’s in His presence, condemned in the presence of Jesus.  This story puts a great emphasis on conscience.  You notice that in verse 9, “When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones.  He was left alone and the woman where she was in the center of the court.”  All those religious leaders left because of their conscience.  How do you think the woman felt?  She had a conscience, too, and she can’t walk away.  Man condemned her, her conscience condemned her, the Law of God condemned her.  Where is she going to go?  Where is she going to turn?   She’s standing in the presence of a sinless Savior.

I don’t know what went through her mind or her fear, what she expected to happen.  Hold that a moment.  There’s another revelation of our Lord.  Verse 10&11, “Straightening up, Jesus said to the woman, ‘Where are they?  Did no one condemn you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either.  Go.  From now on, sin no more.’”  In verse 11 when Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either, it looks at first sight like he’s copying them.  “They didn’t condemn, and neither do I.”  It looks like the same thing, but it’s not the same thing.  On your notes we’re going to skip the next few verses, Romans 8:31 and 8:33-34, John 8:11 and so on.  I changed my notes a little.  When the religious leaders did not condemn, Jesus isn’t doing the same thing.  Those religious leaders didn’t forgive her; they were saving themselves when they went out, and in that sense.  But when the Lord Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you,” He was forgiving her.  That’s a big difference.  Jesus is the only One qualified to judge, and Jesus is the only One qualified to forgive.

I don’t know a more precious New Testament scene than this, a guilty sinner standing before a sinless Savior, the only One qualified to condemn, and He says, “I do not condemn you, neither do I condemn.”  It’s a very beautiful picture.  Let me give an illustration here.  Let’s say that Mike is the sinner and you sin against Lex.  I don’t know how you did it.  Maybe you just got upset and said something bad about his wife, or you lied about him or you ruined his reputation, and I heard about it, and I came to you and say, “You’ve sinned against Lex,” and I come up to you, “Mike, I’ve heard about that.  I forgive you.”  What’s wrong with that?  I can’t forgive him.  And even the Pharisees understood that, and they said, “This is blasphemy; only God can forgive sin.”  It’s an amazing thing, that in a sense, if you sin against me I can forgive you, but if you sin against God He cannot forgive you without paying a price.  There’s a big difference.

Remember David’s confession of sin in Psalm 51?  What was his sin?  Adultery.  Of course, then he added murder by proxy, but his sin was adultery.  In his prayer of repentance, listen to what he said, Psalm 51:4, “Against You and You only have I sinned and done what’s evil in Your sight.”  Jesus is God.   They dragged her before God.  This act of adultery was sinning against Jesus.  All sin is against Jesus and Him only.  She didn’t sin against those religious leaders who dragged her before Jesus.  She sinned against the Law of Moses.  It wasn’t the Law of Moses that she sinned against.  “Against Thee, and Thee only have I sinned.” 

We talk about everything being redemptive.  Look at this story.  They dragged her before Jesus to be condemned, to be stoned to death.  They didn’t drag her before Jesus so that she could find salvation, but that’s how God turned it around.  They were trying to have her condemned and she was brought before the only One, against, “Thee and Thee only have I sinned.”  Nobody is qualified to condemn except Jesus.  Nobody is qualified to forgive except Jesus.  All sin is against Jesus.  That’s what makes it so serious, when a finite man sins against an infinite God, it deserves infinite punishment, and only God say what we deserve, what you deserve and what I deserve.  The revelation of our Lord Jesus in this marvelous story is that He is the perfect Savior.  Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  He has forgiven us—no condemnation.

We aren’t finished with this.  Next week, Lord willing, I want to discuss and develop, “What does it mean for Jesus to forgive before the cross?  Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.  Where is the shedding of blood here.  So, we’ll pick that up next time. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your precious word, and everything You’ve inspired it to mean, please work that in our hearts.  Protect your people from anything I might have said that was just flesh and blood and not from You.  Root up what You haven’t planted, and make these things real and give us a new appreciation for our Lord Jesus who is qualified to condemn but He doesn’t condemn; He forgives.  Oh, we praise you, Lord, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.