John: The Forgiver

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:23
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Kids: How did you get the Bible in your hands today?
Copying by hand originally
multiple manuscripts/scrolls ( we have some only one generation away from the originals!)
Then came books & printing
When we compare old copies, we find spelling mistakes etc, but in some places we find missing or added verses, what do we do with that?
We compare different manuscripts to see what the most likely original version was: Usually it becomes obvious if there was a spelling mistake, or maybe a copier wasn’t paying attention and they skipped a line. If some scribe thought they were doing us a favor and added an explanatory note in, then we can compare with other copies from before or around the same time to see it was only commentary, and not part of the original text.
Because we have so many copies of ancient mss we have a high degree of certainty about what the original text was. Every time we find more manuscripts it confirms the accuracy of our modern translations. The very natural & organic way that the bible was formed over time by the HS, gives us great confidence that there hasn’t been wholesale tampering with the Word of God (e.g. the Constantine theory).
Even if we lost all the manuscripts, pastors and theologians down though the centuries had so many excerpts of the New Testament in their letters and books, we could pretty much reconstruct the whole NT from there.
The discrepancies between texts can be a little scary for people to get their head around, and in fact some Christians never hear about it until they say, go to university where a lecturer with nefarious intentions will happily try and use this information to undermine God’s word. I’m not going to hide the difficulty from you! I want you to be equipped with understanding about how God’s word was delivered to you, and equipped to withstand the unfounded devilish accusation that God’s word cannot be trusted. It’s the same story from Eden: “Did God really say?”
It teaches us not to get too picky about individual words or letters, but instead to hear the message of the words.
Despite the thousands of differences found across the manuscripts, there is only a handful of places where we have serious uncertainty about the original text, and even there, the alternate readings do not change any key piece of Christian history or teaching.

What do we do with the “Woman caught in Adultery” passage?

Textual problems: this story is not in our oldest manuscripts. And, when it does appear, it shows up in different places and slightly different version of the story. You can see out of place here chronologically, because the “Light of the World” passage follows directly on from the Living Water section. (though it does kinda fit here, with the idea of the hypocritical religious leaders trying to undermine Jesus).
We can be quite confident that this was not part of the original Gospel of John.
John 20:30 NIV
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
Is this one of the “other” stories that some early Christians thought was important enough to include? (Remember their idea of authenticity wasn't like ours).
Even if this was just an oral story, the application of truth that we find in this passage is still biblical - adultery is still condemned, religious leaders try to catch out Jesus, Jesus subverts expectations with truth, Jesus is merciful and forgiving, and Jesus expects repentant obedience. This is all fits quite naturally with the rest of the Bible.
What we are going to do - look at the story itself, and then tease out the main themes as they come up in other parts of the Bible.
We will see that Jesus upholds God’s law and takes away it’s condemnation.

The Story Itself

John 8:3–6 NIV
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.
Trying to trap Jesus - If he doesn’t condemn, he would be “exposed” as undermining the law. If he did, he may be perceived as unmerciful and opposed to the Romans (they weren’t supposed to execute somebody).
Like if someone came to me and asked for help overcoming their same-sex attraction, I would be in the position of either going against the state government’s laws, or towing the secular line and undermining my confession as a Bible believing Christian.
Jesus deftly is able to undermine the “trap” by upholding the law and striking at the hearts of the religious “leaders”.
They are looking to Jesus to uphold: Leviticus 20:10 & Deuteronomy 22:22.
Deuteronomy 22:22 NIV
If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
The leaders could have easily dealt with this themselves, but they were going to try and leverage the sin and shame of others to try and catch him out. BTW, where’s the man, he’s supposed to be there too!
What is meant by adultery? The tight definition, wider. Part of Sexual immorality.
Jesus starts with some silence - James 1:19.
Then the master stroke - Yes, this woman deserves to die for her sin, but so do all of you!
John 8:7–9 NIV
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 does not undermine the Law! Instead he upholds the law, but uses it to strike at the hearts of the schemers.
Sin is ultimately all breaking of God’s law: it is failing to do something God commands, or doing something that God prohibits.
This lady had broken God’s law, and Jesus turns it around on them: OK, well if this lady has broken God’s law, you who haven’t broken God’s law should be the ones to start the execution.
Jesus is playing on another part of the Law, that when someone is to be executed in the Israelite community, the witnesses have to carry out the sentence. This helps to reduce spurious accusations, it meant you took your job of telling the truth very seriously, because lives were at stake, and you would need to live with the consequences in a very real way.
So Jesus pokes at their consciences, by alluding to this part of the law, and by pointing out that they are sinners too.
It hits home. Starting with the oldest and wisest, and the ones who’ve lived with their sin the longest, they see that this is a lost cause. Who dares claim they are without sin?
They leave because either
a) they are convicted, and unwilling to partake in this, or
b) they see that Jesus has outwitted them and they slink away to keep plotting.
John 8:10–11 NIV
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.”
Jesus point out the obvious - they’re all gone with no stones being thrown. Their exit showed they were unable to follow through with any condemnation of this lady.
There was no now condemnation for the woman. Not because she wasn’t guilty, but because everybody there was guilty. There was no-one there who was any better than the rest, even though this woman’s sin was obvious and wicked, everybody else who was there were sinners too. Non of them were in a position of moral superiority.
Except of Jesus, he had every right to condemn her. He knew her sin. He knew she was guilty. He knew she deserved punishment.
But he didn’t condemn her.
He gave her mercy.
He gave her grace.
He showed her kindness.
Despite what she deserved, this lady met God and received a pardon.
Jesus tells us:
John 3:17 NIV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Jesus was bringing a Gospel of Grace. And while she didn’t know all the ins and outs of what was to come with Jesus dying for our sins, whe was nevertheless able to taste something of the mercy that is available in Jesus Christ.
In Christ we see how justice and mercy meet. The guilty verdict was valid, but he is able to take away the guilt and give freedom in it’s place.
He frees us from the penalty of the Law of God so that we may live, and sin no more.
When you receive God’s forgiveness, you are cleansed and called to embody the sinless life.

Why is God so concerned with our sexuality?

Lots of folks object to Christianity’s teaching on sexuality.
We fall into the trap of a) thinking that the spiritual and the physical are disconnected, or b) that God has no claims on how we act in the body.
Both are utterly untrue.
God’s design! Intimately connected to our identity (as shown by the identity problems manifesting everywhere right now!)
It is good to be a man! With your drive and aggression and your libido - God designed you that way so that you can fulfill your creation mandate!
It is good to be a woman! With your fruitfulness and nurture and compassion - God designed you that way so that you can fulfill your creation mandate!
But like all sin, it takes good things, and corrupts them. Twists them.
Like in adultery, it takes the wonderful pursuit a man makes of a woman, and twists it into betrayal and theft. Betrayal of their spouses, and stealing the intimate “knowledge” that belongs to another.
God is so concerned about sexuality, because he is concerned about you! He knows what is best for us! He knows what is best for our families, communities and countries.
The corruption of sexual sin has an extra component to it, affecting our inner person in a special way.
1 Corinthians 6:18–20 NIV
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Science backs up the special way that sex affects our brain - it can mess up your brain.
Adultery is the poster-child of this kind of immorality - because not only is it corrupting God’s design, it breaks covenant vows. (BTW Christians don’t get to decide on their own if they are going to break off a marriage, they made promises before God & a congregation, so if there is a reason for that covenant to be dissolved, you need to involve the people you invited to be part of it!)
Other sexual sin
Includes homosexuality, incest, multiple partners, ritual/worship stuff,
Galatians 5:19–21 NIV
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The easiest, and most pernicious is Lust. This besets men more that women, merely because of the way that God has made us.
Matthew 5:27–28 NIV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Are you the Hypocrite?

Matthew 7:1–5
It’s not that we are
never to rebuke (we clearly are),
never judge (we clearly are),
never help someone see the error of their ways (we clearly are),
It’s that we must judge rightly, with eyes wide open to our own faults.

You can’t trick Jesus.

They tried to trap Jesus
Jesus was beyond them, and not able to be ensnared.
We can’t bend God to our will.
God knows us, our intentions and our weaknesses
Jeremiah 17:9–10 NIV
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
None of us can stand justified before God on our own terms. All of us are stuffed.

No condemnation in Christ Jesus

1 John 1:8–10 NIV
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
Romans 8:1 NIV
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:34 NIV
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Go and sin no More

Requires action!
Repentant heart
Active obedience!
Matthew 5:29–30 NIV
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
What are you willing to give up?
If your DVD collection causes you to sin....
If your Netflix...
If your bank account...
Obviously there we can;t get rid of every temptation, but the question is, what are you willing to give up to gain Jesus? He asks for everything.

So What?

Not original, but biblical
Jesus cares about your sexuality
Jesus cautions us against hypocrysy.
Jesus knows our hearts
Jesus brings forgiveness and freedom
Carson’s Pillar Commentary on John.
Hutcheson’s commentary on John
Hendrickson’s commentary on John
Sermons by Richard D. Philips,
Sproul, R. C., ed. The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version. Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005.
Phillips, Richard D. John. Edited by Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani. 1st ed. Vol. 1 & 2 of Reformed Expository Commentary. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014.
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