New Hope Notes
The Greatest Life Ever Lived
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
"Everyone went to his home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?' They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in 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 at her.' Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.'"
Did you know that Jesus had no home? He had to spend the night in the garden at the Mount of Olives. If you think about it, He is the Creator of the Universe. Think of the infinite humility that Jesus is exemplifying here. He’s the one that creates the mountains, the caverns, and the marble and granite stones for the palaces. Yet, even earthly heads of state are treated better than the King of the universe. Everyone had a home to go to, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. He didn’t grumble or argue. The Bible says in Luke 9, “The foxes have their holes, birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of God has no place to lay his head and rest.” This is what the book of John is all about - God becoming human and the infinite humility that surrounded that. As we read through this passage of John, I want you to see the infinite humility of Jesus.
The people were waiting for Him. The Pharisees had been setting a trap, and even though He knew they were doing that for Him, his regimen didn’t change. He just went right there to teach the people. Let me tell you who the Pharisees and Scribes were. The Scribes were like professional secretaries. They copied the law because you didn’t have copy machines or printing presses back then. They did everything by hand. They were like the “kinkos” of the Bible. The Pharisees were the religious leaders and collaborators with the Roman government. While the Romans were occupying Israel, the Jewish people would be under their military control. The Pharisees collaborated with the Romans. The Romans promised the Pharisees “bread” if they promised to turn over any subversive person coming against the Roman government. So, that’s what the Pharisees would do. They were like the Jewish police. They would check to make sure that everyone kept to the letter of the Law, and if you didn’t they would have the authority to condemn you to death. They were the snitches in religious form for the government. So, they figured if they could get Jesus to be labeled as a troublemaker, the Romans would get rid of Him. They wanted to get Jesus to condemn himself, and then they would turn Him over because of their envy. See what happened was Jesus had embarrassed them. He would speak against them and their religious legalism. He spoke against how they would demean people and always be more righteous than everyone else, yet inside they were even crueler than the others. They would see other’s wrongs but not their own. Since Jesus stepped on their ecclesiastical toes and embarrassed them publicly, they were going to find a way to get back at Him. So, they set up a trap using a woman they brought who was caught in adultery. Adultery was a very serious crime. In Leviticus 20:10 it says, “If there is a man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, the one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife—the adulterer and the adulteress, will surely be put to death.” So, the Scribes and Pharisees knew this law. The Mishnah is a body of material, a written document that is like a commentary on the Scriptures. This is what the Mishnah says about how adulterers were to be put to death. “The man who is caught in adultery shall be set in dung up to his waist. And you shall wrap two towels about his neck. The inner one shall be a soft towel, and the outer one a rough towel. Two men are to pull on the ends until he is dead by strangulation. You know why they put a smooth towel on the inside of the neck? It’s because when he’s dead, there’ll be no marks, so it’ll be like an act of God. Can you see how everything had turned so cruel? Yet, they were religious about it. It’s like that still today when we spiritualize our fleshly ways. So, it was in this context, they brought this woman. At this time, the town was divided. You had half the people who believed in Jesus and half that were against Him. So, they would use this division to determine whether this woman was to be stoned to death. If Jesus said to stone her, they could come back and say, “What kind of person are you? You talk about being a forgiver and a friend to sinners. You’re just lying!” If He said, “Forgiver her” they could say something like, “Wait a minute, Leviticus and Deuteronomy is the law, and it says that we are to stone her which was the Law given by God to Moses. You’re disagreeing with Moses so that tells me that you are not God. You’re making trouble here!” See, it was a lose-lose situation. Any way that He answered would be wrong. They persisted on questioning Jesus what to do as they were getting their rocks ready to stone this woman. Finally, after stooping down and drawing a line in the ground, Jesus gets up and responds, “Let him who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.” The Bible says they began dropping their stones because they too knew they had crossed the line somewhere.
Often we can do that. We can draw lines for one another even in this church, and say, “They crossed the line!” We can say, “They shouldn’t have done that,” and we don’t even know what they’ve done. It could be a rumor. But, we draw a line and what happens is it gives us a sense of being right which allows us to do horrible things like gossip, slander, and make false conclusions about someone because we think we’re on the right side of the line. We do that all the time. We draw a line for other people. Question is: Can we draw a line for ourselves? I think Jesus may have drawn a second line in the dirt almost like He was saying to them “Do you draw lines for yourself?” Maybe when you’re getting angry, can you draw the line and stop? Because if you don’t, you’ll end up stepping over the line of anger into hatred. You’ll find yourself in the land of hatred because you can’t draw a line for yourself. What if you’re in disagreement with someone? Can you draw the line for yourself? Because if you can’t, you’ll end up stepping over the line of disagreement and into slander. Maybe you’ve stepped over the line of frustration and now you’re in the zone of retaliation or even revenge. When you’re embarrassed, startled, or upset, before you go any further, can you draw a line? If you don’t, you’ll end up going into the zone of murder, whether it’s conversationally murdering somebody or even physically as it was with Jesus. I believe the whole message that Jesus is saying is: If we can’t draw lines for ourselves, we’re not ready to draw lines for others!‘..how can you try to take the speck out from your brother’s eye when you have a log in your own eye’ (Matt 7:5)? Can you draw a line for yourself? What about when you’re in conversation and you start talking about someone else, and you hear the Lord telling you to just stop and draw the line? If you’re having lusty thoughts, do you draw a line, or do you keep letting it go? Is it painful to draw a line? Yes! It’s so much easier to just let it go, but then what happens in the end? See, there’s going to be two pains in life. They are the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. You choose.
1. Are you able to draw lines for yourself?
2. If not, the enemy is poised to injure you and steal your future.
So, the Pharisees began to leave. In their absence, Jesus asked the woman, “Where are your condemners?” She said, “There are none, Lord.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
Today’s lesson that is so applicable is this: If you’re not able to draw lines for yourself, you’re not ready to draw lines for everybody else. You’ll see that reiterated throughout the Scriptures-- how the Pharisees were like white-washed tombs and how they cleaned the “outside of the cup” but inside they were filthy. We can be the same thing because if we’re not careful, we can identify more with Pharisees than anyone else. Stop and draw a line when your mind starts to lust. If we can’t do that, then we will be more like the Pharisees instead of followers of Christ that are excited about the work of the Kingdom. In the beginning, you have to decide whether to be an empire builder or a kingdom builder. If you are able to self-correct (draw lines), your faith is becoming gold! Peter says the proof of your faith is more precious than gold. You know why Jesus could say, “Neither do I condemn you?” It’s because He knew in a few days that He would be impaled on a cross for that woman’s sin. So He could say go and sin no more. He didn’t ignore sin. In essence, Jesus is saying go and live as a forgiven person! Sometimes, people say that Christianity is just a bunch of do’s and don’ts. However, it’s not about living as a frustrated person. Christianity is living as a forgiven person. The real question of the day in Jesus’ time was about harmonizing justice (woman caught in adultery) and mercy (Jesus’ teaching). That’s what the Pharisees were asking. Still today, people ask the same question. They say God has to be more because criminals need to be penalized but yet you need to forgive them. So, how do you harmonize the two? You see, if God is merciful all the time then we can destroy each other as if it was inconsequential. On the other hand, if God was all just and only just, He’d be like a celestial policeman. We’d be living in fear. But, Jesus harmonizes them both. The cool thing is on the cross Jesus brought together the justice of God by paying the penalty and the mercy of God; we are redeemed because of what He did. It was at the cross that Jesus harmonized justice (He died) and mercy (we are forgiven.) That’s how precious the cross is. Remember, mercy is given to those who recognize their sin; justice is given for those who refuse. Now, Jesus says go and live as a forgiven person!
1. What are some areas in your life that you need to draw lines?
2. What keeps you from drawing lines?
3. How was the mercy and justice of God fulfilled?
4. Do you find yourself drawing lines for others and not for yourself?
5. Do you live life as a forgiven person or do you take God’s mercy for granted?