Good morning and welcome to Friday’s podcast. If you have made it this far, well done! Next week I will be handing on the baton to Helen, so I am sure that another great week of podcasts lies in store.
Today we continue with Jesus teaching in the temple courts. Today the Pharisees are trying to catch him out, bringing him a woman caught in adultery. The reading is John 8:1-30 but I am going to focus on v 7, 10 and 11.
Now this is a deadly serious matter. If you were caught in adultery the Old Testament law (the Law given to Moses) stated clearly that the couple should be taken outside the camp and be stoned to death. Here are the Jewish leaders bringing the woman to Jesus for judgement. The Roman occupying army took a dim view of the locals putting anyone to death (that’s why Jesus is taken to Pilate). So will Jesus uphold the law of Moses and come into conflict with Rome, or will he side with Rome and let her go?
Here’s what Jesus says in verse 7,
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Does Jesus side with Rome or Moses? Neither! He doesn’t say that sex outside of marriage is OK, but neither does he demand that she pay the penalty for her sin.
He says to the crowd, you want to judge her, first judge yourself! If you have always got it right… go ahead. Put her to death. If not, drop your stones and walk away!
So how about us? Do we ever point the finger? Do we ever accuse others? Are we quick to report others failings, when we ourselves have reason to hide?
Jesus says in Luke 6: 37,
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Jesus is big on this not judging others thing. I wonder when we last stumbled down this particular rabbit hole?
You see, we are all expert judges. We operate in a world where there are rules and if people break the rules people need to be punished. Its how the world works and its how we are wired. But when Jesus died on the cross he took all the punishment that is due… all of it… every last tiny weenie drop of punishment that the biggest, baddest, nastiest person deserves, upon himself… and was punished for the lot. He didn’t drop anything, there weren’t one or two things that slipped off of his shoulders. He took EVERYTHING. I think I’ve made my point! As one author writes, “in Christ we are unpunishable” (Danny Silk, Culture of honour). No, it’s not fair… it’s grace.
We live in a culture that LOVES a scandal. We watch the news and we pass judgment, we spend a happy hour scrolling through social media and there will be a headline, there will be an outcry, a comment, a post… and we judge. We all do it, we have grown up in a world which has encouraged us to hone our judgment skills, sharpen our knives, we are ready to judge, ready to condemn… I know I do this… how about you?
How about that colleague at work? He’s a bit rubbish! He doesn’t measure up… That person is really unpleasant… a nasty piece of work! They drink a lot. There they go again, messing up another relationship. That’s no way to talk to a child… they look funny, they’re not very clever, I wouldn’t do it like that …
It goes on, and on and on. We make little judgments, we reject people – but we are ever so nice about it… we would never say anything… we would never be rude. We will just keep our distance, we don’t want to be around people like that. We won’t talk to them… not in a bad way… we just won’t include them.
It’s not very loving is it? It’s not the picture of the kingdom of God that Jesus paints.
Jesus says if we judge… we get judged. If we accuse… we stand accused. But if we forgive we are forgiven; if we extend grace we will receive grace.
We simply need to love! It’s grace, not accusation, that leads to repentance. It’s truth, grace and forgiveness that leaves the door open for reconciliation. And it’s only when our hearts beat in time with God’s, it’s only when our attitudes begin to reflect that of Jesus, that we will see the true impact of the gospel.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
With Jesus there is always a second chance. With Jesus there is always mercy. It’s not a free ticket to do what we want but it is an invitation to walk a path of truth, of love, of generosity, of goodness and of transformation.
Father, forgive us when we judge others. We get this wrong so often, make us aware of the moments we judge and help us to drop our stones and pick up love, grace and forgiveness. In Jesus name, Amen.
READING: John 8:1-30
[John 7:53b: Then they all went home] but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered round him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’
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.’
The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’
Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’
Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’
‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’
This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go, you cannot come”?’
But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.’
‘Who are you?’ they asked.
‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,’ Jesus replied. ‘I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.’
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’ Even as he spoke, many believed in him.