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Sermon notes on John 8:1-11.
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around 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. (Jn 8:1-6)
“Well, kill her of course” would be a proper Phariseic response to this question. Many witnesses had seen her commit this sin, and the Old Testament punishment for adultery is death (Lev 20:10). There is obviously a gender-based injustice here since only the woman is supposed to be punished, while the man she had sex with is nowhere to be seen, but many Pharisees would not care so much about that.
Jesus’ response, though, is revolutionary and unexpected:
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.” (Jn 8:6-11)
I am grateful and encouraged when I see the massive activism for women’s rights and an end to violence that is going on in India right now as a response to the horrible rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi. Having relatives from India and several Indian friends, I feel solidarity with the people and share their distress and there demand for change. However, as a follower of the non-violent Christ who taught us to love our enemies and forgive our transgressors, I feel pain when I see the demands for vengeance, punishment and execution that are frequent in the protests.
When Jesus hang upon the cross, He prayed “Father, forgive them” (Luke 22:34). This does not defend the sins of the murderers, but it brings them love and healing instead of hate and destruction. Something is severely broken in them that Jesus came to restore. He didn’t go to the holy and healthy but to the sinful and sick (Matthew 9:12). And when His Holy Spirit performs miracles among us, even the worst sinner can be completely transformed.
Christopher Alam is an international revivalist born in Pakistan who preach the gospel at big campaigns in Africa and Asia, where he has seen astonishing miracles. He shares in his great book All Things Are Possible how the Holy Spirit changed the heart of a murderer in the late 1980’s, at a campaign meeting in the Indian state of Odisha. Christopher was praying for the sick and the blind saw, the deaf heard and the lame walked – just like in the video above. The people that were gathered were shouting and praising the Lord for the amazing miracles He did.