« Back

Grace and Truth Personified

Posted on April 23, 2017

Grace and Truth Personified

John 7:53-8:11

Scripture Reading

John 7:53-8:11

[The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11.]

53 [[They went each to his own house, 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?” 6 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. 7 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 throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

Purpose: Every Christ follower has their sins forgiven and shame removed when they humbly come to Christ

Introduction: Illustration: Imagine you are watching the Olympics. All these different skaters come out with their impressive performances. Now in the Olympics the athlete will be judged on the difficulty of their routine as well as the precision and grace with which the carry it out. In evaluating then you are looking for the overall quality of performance in seeing how many errors they make as well as how complicated what they are doing really is so then an athlete who attempted a more challenging jump may actually get more points for trying and failing or making a slight mistake than if they didn’t try at all. As a judge then what would you do if one of the skaters came out and just slowly skated in a circle? They took no risks, and didn’t do anything challenging. Sure their performance might have been close to perfect but nothing was noteworthy. Anyone could have done what they did. Often times when we hold on to shame in our lives that is exactly what we do. Rather than trying anything or doing anything we just skate safely around. How would you judge that? Even just watching at home you’d sit there and think really? These others did such incredible routines and all you did was skate in circles, how did you even get in to the Olympics. You certainly wouldn’t say well done. That is the effect that shame has on our spiritual lives. It keeps us trapped in this fear of failure so that we are reluctant or unwilling to do anything.

  • We are going to talk about how Jesus not only forgives us, not only shows us mercy, not only gives us grace but also takes away ALL of our SHAME!!

Background / Context

  • This section from 7:53 – 8:11 may not be part of the original text. Most if not all translations have some kind of note about this portion of scripture
  • It is like another section we are not sure about (Mark 16:9-20). Both of these passages are long and in question
  • Two reasons or two evidences internally this passage may not be part of the original writings but added later. Note we are not saying that if they were added later that it wasn’t inspired by God.
    • One, it disrupts the flow of thought in this section.
      • In 7:37-52 we are at the Feast of Tabernacles, specifically at the water pouring part of the ceremony where Jesus stands up and with a very loud voice declares that He is the Messiah by saying He is Living water and that salvation is found in Him alone
      • In 8:12 – 21 as we will see next time, Jesus is still at the Feast of Tabernacles and is about to witness the lighting of the Great Light and He will declare He is the Light of the World to go along His declaration of being the Living Water
      • Some manuscripts actually insert this in other places in the Gospels instead of right here.
      • Second, the vocabulary and style of the writing is different than the rest of the Gospel of John
        • Use of the terms scribes and Pharisees are found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) but nowhere are these two terms linked together in the Gospel of John
        • The timing is seemingly wrong. It does not fit with the Feast of the Tabernacles
          • This passage says Jesus went to Mt. Olives and spent the night. The Synoptic Gospels record Jesus going to Mt. Olives only during the Passion Week which is six months later than this event at the Feast of Tabernacles
  • External evidence
    • One, the earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not have this text. Other manuscripts marked it questionable.
    • The early church fathers did not comment on this passage in their commentaries until Euthymuis Zigabenaus did in the 12th century.
    • Second, Augustine speculated that overzealous scribes may have cut it out because it appeared Jesus was too lenient on the issue of adultery.
    • There is no other case though of a scribe omitting a passage on moral grounds???
    • In fact, look at 7:53 – 8:2. There is nothing in those verses that speaks about morality so they would not have been omitted for that reason
    • It begs the question also of why would you leave the story of the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John (John 4) if that is the reason for omitting it.
      • Jesus rebuke of the Samaritan woman was mild compared to this story.
  • Reasons to keep it in the Bible where it is
    • One, it apparently was part of the apostolic tradition that describes an historical event in the life of Christ
    • Two, it does not contradict scripture
    • Three, it doesn’t seem like the kind of story that the early church would make up. It fits with Christ as being an all wise, all loving and compassionate Savior
    • Fourth, most likely the story was historical. It may have been an oral piece of tradition that circulated in the Western churches
      • Church fathers that supported it to remain in scripture were Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine
      • Eventually the story was written down and included in later manuscripts

Transition: Let’s now look at this story

The moral dilemma – John 7:53 – 8:7a

53 [[They went each to his own house, 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them

  • Jesus is in Jerusalem and everyone is going to the home.
  • Again, this is probably Passover Week in the spring.
  • Jesus goes instead to the Mt. of Olives
    • The Bible is not clear as to whether Jesus slept outside or went to the home of Mary and Martha
    • He did not perform any miracles or healings to draw a crowd
    • It was authoritative teaching that drew people to Him on this occasion
    • Notice Jesus humility. He is not trying to draw attention to Himself. He simply sat down to teach. He did not use a marketing strategy to promote His ministry. He relied on His personal influence
    • This is very unlike His second coming when He will come in power and revelation for all the world to see. There will no mistaken who this Jesus is when He returns.

Matthew 24:30

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Revelation 19:15

From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

  • Test # 1 – Jesus commitment to the law

John 8:3 - 5

 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?”

  • Jesus was interrupted in His teaching by the scribes and Pharisees.
    • The scribes were experts in the interpretation of the law. They were usually Pharisees but they could have been Zealots, Essenes, and Sadducees
    • The Pharisees were very strict in their teaching and adherence to the law. They were in the minority at this time with about 6,000 of them but they had the biggest influence when it came to religion according to the Jewish historian Josephus.
    • The Pharisees were very hostile toward Jesus with the exception of Nicodemus and others who later came to Christ. Saul of Tarsus is one.
      • Their concern for Jesus was twofold. They thought they were losing their influence and power over the people but if they tried to arrest Jewish, they could get in big trouble with Rome if a riot ensued
      • We see that they interrupted Jesus to bring this woman caught in the very act of adultery
      • Notice in verse 5, they ask Jesus “What do you say?”
        • You….. what do you say?
        • What’s your opinion on this matter, this situation?
      • The adulteress woman who may have been Mary Magdalene was guilty of breaking the seventh commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
      • The penalty according to Leviticus 20:10 was death by stoning
        • Jesus had made some very strong statements before this incident about adultery

Matthew 5:27

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.

Matthew 5:28

28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  • Test #2 – Jesus commitment to love and compassion

6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

  • The interesting thing about this story is that the religious leaders said they caught this woman in the very act of adultery and yet they did not bring the man to stand before Jesus.
  • This was a test, a set up from the beginning to try and trap Jesus
  • They were not seeking justice. If so they would have taken this couple to court. Jesus was not a judge

Luke 12:13 -14

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

  • They were trying to destroy Him; catch Him not teaching and following God’s law
    • If He objected to their request to fulfill the law and stone the woman and let her off, He wasn’t the Messiah
    • If He agreed then He would lose His reputation as having compassion toward sinners
    • This brought up the issue of just how divine justice and mercy can be harmonized
      • After all God is holy. We see that all through scripture
      • The law is holy

Romans 7:12

So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good

  • The law cannot forgive
  • The Big Question is this. How does God forgive sinners and remove their shame without violating His holy law?
  • That is what Jesus is going to answer in this story
  • God, does it through the sacrifice of His Son.
  • God is the judge but He also is the one who satisfies the justice that needed to be served, to be paid for.



Romans 3:26

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • Notice Jesus response to their question.

John 6b -7

6bJesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him,

  • At this moment, the crowd is hushed. The Pharisees think they finally have trapped Him and He is going to say something blasphemous or contradictory to scripture and disprove His claim to deity and Messiahship
  • He stoops to write in the dirt or sand that is on the ground
  • What did He write? Scholars for centuries have speculated and that is all they can do because we have no way of knowing what Jesus was doing with His finger on the ground
    • Some say He was acting out Jeremiah 17:13

Jeremiah 17:13

O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.

  • Some say Jesus was writing out what He was about to say in verse 7. The prohibition against malicious witnesses

Exodus 23:1

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.

  • Some say He was listing the sins of the woman’s accusers.
  • What Jesus wrote is not essential to the purpose of the story.
  • The religious leaders persisted to ask Him what He was going to do about the situation in the first part of verse 7. They were puzzled by His silence
  • Their continual badgering for an answer shows their hatred, hostility and hypocrisy
  • Jesus is the perfect balance of grace and truth.

Application:  How can you and I display the balance of grace and truth in all situations?

Transition: Finding that balance in each situation is very, very difficult. Let’s look now at Jesus measured response.

The measured response – John 8:7b – 9

  • Their sins revealed

7b He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

  • Jesus straightens up, spoke and stooped down again
  • His statement upheld the law
    • He did not deny the woman’s guilt
    • He broadened the laws power by exposing the sins of her accusers
    • He spared the woman from being stoned for her sin
    • Jesus knew that according to the law, witnesses to the capital offense were to throw the first stones according to Deuteronomy 13 and 17
      • The accusers, the religious leaders were not participants in the crime so they should not be executed
      • Jesus was not making sinless perfection a requirement to carry out the law. No one could do that on earth
      • It may be her accusers were guilty of adultery. Maybe not the physical but the lust as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 5:28
      • Notice Jesus answer did not minimize the law nor deny its sanctity, its holiness
      • It cut the ground out of her accusers being her judge and executioner. They were guilty of hypocrisy

Romans 2:1

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

  • The religious leaders had time to stop and consider what Jesus said
  • Their time to ponder their sin and not judge

9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

  • One version says “Being convicted of their consciences”
    • Either they realized a humiliating defeat and knew it was pointless to continue to attack Jesus
    • Or they were keenly aware of their sins and their inability to meet Jesus challenge
    • Notice, it was the older ones of the religious leaders who left first. Some believe it was because the older ones had more sins to ponder and remember

Quote: “Those who came to shame Jesus left shamed. Those who came to condemn the woman left condemned.” – John MacArthur

  • Instead of repenting they left with hardened hearts
  • How do you respond when you are confronted with sin? It shows your heart for God?
  • We are to acknowledge like David did in Psalm 51 that against God and God alone we have sinned and seek forgiveness.

Application: We lose every time if we compare our sins to others.

The mark of compassion and forgiveness – 8:10 – 11

Video: Passion of Christ scene

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

  • We are not sure but the crowd may still be here listening to see what will happen now that the religious leaders have left the scene
  • Let’s break down into three statements what Jesus said to the woman
  • Here for the first time, someone address the woman.
  • Using the word “Woman” was a sign of respect and being polite
  • No one to accuseyou
    • No one has condemned her. Her accusers have left
    • We see here the moment of divine forgiveness for this woman
    • This most likely was not her first experience with immorality but this time she got caught
    • I accept you and remove your shame

And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you;

  • Jesus not only forgives her but removes all her shame. All the shame of her past.
  • God wants to free you from any shame you have in your past.

I Peter 2:6

For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:11

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Hebrews 12:2

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • Jesus bore our shame with His shame and humiliation on the cross
  • We are not to hold on to anything that makes us feel guilty. It is under the blood of Christ
  • Do we really believe that? Do we appropriate this promise in our daily lives? In our thought processes? Satan wants to control our mind and make us feel embarrassed and ashamed as often as He can remind us of our past
    • If we were to put your life on the screen and show some of your greatest sin video, how many of you would run out of this room right now?

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

  • No matter what you have done
    • Participated in an abortion
    • Character assassination of someone – Bill O’Reilly
    • Emotionally hurt someone growing up
    • Verbal abuse
    • You name it, God forgives, forgets and removes your shame.
    • You need to give yourself permission to let it go
    • The alternative is like that illustration I gave at the beginning. You will stay trapped in your spiritual life.
    • God wants us to live and speak boldly with the past behind us.

Philippians 3:13b - 14

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  • Don’t live in shame any longer

Quote: “You must learn, you must let God teach you, that the only way to get rid of your past is to make a future out of it. God will waste nothing”. – Philip Brooks

Quote: “Although we cannot alter the past, we can put our past on the altar.” – Francis Frangipane

  • Notice that last thing Jesus said to this adulterous woman
  • Leave your life of sin

Go, and from now on sin no more.”

  • Jesus did not excuse her sin
  • He demanded that she turn away from her sin and turn to God
  • He gave her a new lease on life, a new opportunity to push the reset button on life and start over.
  • He loved her by looking into her heart and seeing her need and forgiving her to give her a second chance
  • Can we do that with those we come in contact with? People that we have messy relationships with?

Application: Are our lives marked with compassion and forgiveness?

Key Thought: We can boldly speak and live for Christ because our guilt and shame are gone!!

Conclusion: This story paints a marvelous picture of Christ who is gracious, humble, has infinite wisdom, convicting speech, and tender forgiveness. This story covers the central theme of Jesus ministry here on earth and in heaven right now on our behalf. We should be grateful that God sovereignly preserved this story.

Let’s Pray

Three Questions to Ponder

1.    Do you feel forgiven but still hold on to the shame of your past?

2.    What would it take for God to help you forget your sin and remove your shame?

3.    Is the cross of Christ enough? Is the fact that God publicly took your shame upon Himself enough for you to let the past go and not live in its shame anymore?