Thursday, September 28, 2023

Dropping Stones: Embracing the Compassion of Jesus

Last Sunday I preached on John 8:1-11. I thought it would be fun to take my entire manuscript and ask Chat GPT to summarize it for you! Let me know what you think

Life is full of moments that bring joy and happiness, like weddings where two people come together in love. But life also presents us with challenges and poor choices, especially in our relationships. We've all been there – maybe it was a middle school crush, a high school romance that didn't last, or even a college relationship that took an unexpected turn. The truth is, we've all made mistakes in our relationships, and the real challenge lies in learning and growing from those experiences.

Today, we're continuing our journey through the Gospel of John, exploring a story that revolves around a woman who made a poor choice in her life. We don't know all the details, but her actions led her to a place she never expected. In John 8, we encounter a woman caught in the act of adultery, standing before Jesus in Jerusalem after the Festival of Tabernacles.

A Difficult Situation in Jerusalem (vv. 1-2)
Before diving into the heart of the story, it's important to acknowledge that some ancient manuscripts don't include these verses. However, their historical significance and their relevance to our journey compel us to explore them. Jesus was known for teaching and spending time with people, and this passage aligns with his pattern of engaging with those around him.

Standing Naked Before Jesus (vv. 3-6)
The scene is set with a woman caught in the act of adultery, potentially standing naked before Jesus. This situation is a trap set by the Pharisees to catch Jesus. They're using this woman's sin to try to entangle him in a theological dilemma. According to the Law of Moses, both parties involved in adultery were to be stoned, yet they only bring the woman before Jesus. It's a setup, plain and simple.

But as we contemplate this scene, we must also reflect on our own lives. Have you ever been caught in a moment of wrongdoing? We've all made mistakes, and religion often sets traps to expose our faults and condemn us. In this story, we see the religious leaders using this woman's sin as bait to trap Jesus.

Instead of responding with words, Jesus stoops down and starts writing in the sand. We can only speculate about what he wrote, but one thing is clear: Jesus protects the dignity of this woman in her most humiliating moment. He shifts the focus away from her and onto himself, offering her a chance to escape public condemnation.

The Written Word of God (vv. 7-11)
The Pharisees persist in their attempts to trap Jesus. They seek a legal ruling from him, but Jesus responds with a profound statement: "Let the one who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." He then resumes writing in the sand. Slowly, the accusers, starting with the older ones, depart, leaving Jesus alone with the woman.

What they've missed, and what we can't overlook, is that Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, has just written in the sand. The last time the finger of God wrote was when the Ten Commandments were inscribed on stone tablets. But now, Jesus writes in the sand, symbolizing a new way, one rooted in mercy, not condemnation.

The older ones in the crowd depart first, perhaps recognizing the trap's futility and their own fallibility. The truth is, we are all sinners, and this crowd's actions remind us to drop our stones of judgment.

In conclusion, this story teaches us that the compassion of Jesus invites us to drop our stones. While Jesus doesn't condone the woman's sin, he offers her a chance at redemption, a chance to leave her life of sin behind. Similarly, we must let go of our judgment, both of others and ourselves, and embrace the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers.

Coastline is a church that values grace, understanding that it's the flip side of the coin that bears the weight of the cross, paying for our sins. If you've been quick to cast stones of judgment, take a moment to apologize and seek reconciliation. Remember, there's always a path to redemption, and Jesus is there to guide us.

Let's strive to be a community that drops our stones, embracing the compassion of Jesus and extending it to others. As we leave behind our lives of sin and judgment, may we live in the freedom and grace that Christ offers us.

Thank you for joining us today, and may you walk in the compassion and grace of Jesus as you continue your journey of faith.

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