Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
In the movie ?Conspiracy Theory? Mel Gibson believes that the government knows all kinds of things about him and are tracking his every move so that he doesn?t uncover some super secret plot they are trying to cover up. For most of the movie you believe that Gibson is just plan wacky but then all of his fears turn out to be completely true?even Gibson seems surprised.
While I don?t necessarily buy into theories of vast government secret plots, I want us to think about information?bad information?that someone could have about you. We all have our secrets, or things that could be made to look bad in the wrong hands. Wouldn?t it be scary to sit across the table from someone that seems to know everything about you?
Well, the really scary thing is that God already knows all about us?our thoughts, our intentions, our actions?all the things we would be ashamed for others to know. To think of that kind of information being broadcast is truly frightening.
Today we see Jesus hint at just how much he, as God, really knows about us in the story of the woman caught in adultery and in the beginning of an argument with the Pharisees. But was is truly amazing is not what Jesus knows but what he does with that information.
1 ? 11
Verses 7:53 ? 8:11 are disputed as to whether they are actually a part of the gospel of John. It is missing from manuscripts prior to the 6th century and is not mentioned in the earliest commentaries of the gospel. It doesn?t mean that it didn?t happen. Perhaps this account got passed down and later scribes thought it would be a good idea to include it here.
Here we see the first of many traps that the religious leaders try to set for Jesus. They tried a frontal attack, sending officers to arrest him in chapter 7. That didn?t work. Basically Jesus spoke and they marveled so much that they said ?no one ever spoke like this man.? So I guess they figured the only way to get rid of him was to catch him either in an inconsistency or to discredit him by making him choose a position that was not popular with the people.
Jesus does not dispute the charges against this woman?she is guilty of sin?and the Law says that a woman caught in adultery must be executed (Lev 20;10, Dt 22:22-24). The seemingly unavoidable dilemma was this: if Jesus said she should not be stoned then they could claim he didn?t follow God?s Word. If he said she should be stoned he would lose his image as a compassionate person and could be seen as violating Roman law that forbade independent executions by the Jews. What?s a Savior to do?
Instead of answering, at first Jesus bends down and writes on the ground. What did he write? Some suggest it was the sins of the religious leaders present. It?s interesting that they were already law breakers by arresting the woman but not the man as the Law requires. Perhaps he wrote down the Ten Commandments. Whatever it was, it began to make the Pharisees very uncomfortable.
Jesus then makes the famous statement that he who is without sin should throw the first stone. Jesus was not condoning the sin, in fact he supports that there is sin and this woman is guilty. Nor was he saying that only perfect people can make judgments. But he was pointing out the fact that none of us are perfect and that lack of perfection means there are experiences and attitudes and other things our lives that can cloud our judgment of right and wrong. It?s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Are we not all deserving death? If we have hated a brother (as the Pharisees hated Jesus) we have already committed murder in our hearts and deserve the death sentence like this woman (Matthew 5).
So they start to leave, starting with the oldest. Perhaps they had more sins to count or were more aware of their own sins. Notice that this doesn?t stop this same group from later plotting to kill Jesus. They were not repentant, only aware of sin. You can be well aware of sin, but unless you repent, change your mind, and seek the forgiveness of sin that only Jesus can give, you will not find release from the guilt of sin.
So then no one is left to cast stones. Can you imagine the mental state of this woman? She had been caught in a weakness, she had been shamed, and then her life was immediately threatened. Yet Jesus says ?Has no one condemned you?? Jesus then says ?neither do I condemn you.? But he doesn?t let her off the hook. He tells her to go and sin no more. That, of course, is impossible for unregenerate humans. The point is that she can find forgiveness and cleansing for sin if she comes to the Savior. Jesus doesn?t wink at sin, but he alone provides a real answer for sin?s penalty and sin?s hold on humanity.
Jesus makes this more clear in the next two paragraphs, another meeting with the Pharisees in the treasury of the Temple.
12 ? 20
At the end of Chapter 7 Nicodemus had told the Council that they should not condemn a man without hearing them. So now they get that chance. One of the worst things in the world is to try to get around in the darkness. The Pharisees are trying to negotiate a dimension when they are totally blind to what it is really like. Jesus tells them that he is light to that dimension, and ours, and that only by walking with him will we truly know the reality of what surrounds us spiritually.
They ?judge according to the flesh?. We as humans are rational beings and we determine what to believe by what we can observe. But even as scientists have learned that there is much more to the universe than what our eyes can see, there is more to the universe than our minds can conceive of. Jesus alone has the ability to see, understand, and interpret that universe to us. Jesus does not ?judge? by human standards like we do.
Jesus is being very blunt here but what he speaks is the truth. Jesus was going away in that he was going to die. Without Jesus you can?t go to heaven, God?s abode. You can seek eternal life all you want, you can even seek the Messiah, the Savior, all you want, but unless you belong to Him you cannot be with him. Without Jesus when we die we are still ?in? our sins?without payment our sins will keep us from being with God. It?s a limited offer, not available forever. Once all have received, God will shut the door and that will be it.
22 ? 24
Suicide was an abhorrent thing to the Jews so they thought if Jesus committed suicide that he would go to a place of judgment. But in fact the opposite was true?they were going to a place of judgment, not Him. Jesus then makes a statement three times that in the Greek ends with ?I am? (ego eimi). Unless you have faith (trust, confidence) in Jesus as the ?I AM? (the personal name for Yahweh that God gave Moses in Exodus) you have no remedy for sin. It?s no wonder they ask him the next question:
25 ? 30
Jesus simply refuses to answer. They wanted him to openly claim to be the Messiah?something that would have opened up an endless argument. Instead he just points them to the things he has been saying and doing all along. You can argue over philosophy and theology until you are blue in the face. What you really need to look at is what Jesus said and what he did.
Jesus could have nailed these guys to the wall but what good would it have done? The important thing was not to win an argument but to speak the truth in hopes that some would respond and receive Jesus? answer to all of our problems.
In the end, some did?praise the Lord.
Jesus already knows everything there is to know about you. He could lay you open in a second just with words that you yourself have spoken or wanted to speak. But like with the woman or even here with the Pharisees, Jesus only says enough to get them to realize they have sinned and to turn to him for the answer.
If you reject Jesus then you will be open to the full extent of God?s knowledge about you at something called the ?White Throne Judgment.?
Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone\'s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. ESV
I don?t quote these verses as a way to scare anyone, but this will happen. The books that will be opened I believe will contain all the things that we have ever done in a format that puts HDTV to shame. We will acknowledge at that time that God is completely justified in barring us from his presence. But notice also that there is something called the Book of Life. If your name is in there then none of the things you?ve done count?they have been washed away by the Lamb of God. All we need do is trust in Him.
He was ?lifted up? like it says in verse 28?lifted up on a cross to voluntarily give up his life as payment for all of the bad things in us. We need only to recognize that bad, recognize his good, and then cling to him.
Secondly?what do you do when you have the ability to judge someone? Maybe you catch someone in a fault or find out something or think you?ve found out something about someone. Do you immediately judge and condemn them? Paul says that we should be extra gentle with those who have fallen, not extra harsh (Galatians 6:1).
Have you had an encounter with Jesus lately? In many ways we are like the woman caught in adultery. What did Jesus do with her that he also does with us?
? Acknowledgment of the sin (we must admit to the sin within us)
? Lack of condemnation (because Jesus bore our condemnation)
? Sending forth in a new life free of sin (possible only through the presence of God?s Holy Spirit in our lives)
Let us let Jesus be our guide?like a guide dog for the blind. When he says stop we stop, when he says turn we turn. Do we use him as our source of light and direction? One of things we cannot see in our human state are the chains that hold us to sin and evil. It is only by Jesus? light and truth that those chains come off?that next time.