What I'd like you to notice this morning is three aspects or characteristics about Jesus Christ in this situation. Number one, Jesus is meek with people. You'll see a fine example of that in the first couple verses. Second, he's masterful with hypocrites. The way he handles this group with one sentence destroys their argument.
And then finally, he's merciful with sinners. Number two is a game that allows you to write or draw whatever you can imagine, and then see it come alive in a video game world. It's a fun way to see words and thoughts and imagination come to life. Well, today in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, we're going to examine some very different scribbles that came to life and profoundly affected everyone around. So how could a few words scribbled in the dust change a life, let alone save it? Today, we'll start in John Chapter 8. So as you find that spot in your Bibles, Skip Heitzig begins with some insights into the world of writing.
John R.W. Stott said, the nearest thing a man will ever come to having a baby is to write a book. Of course, he was a single guy when he wrote that. There was a young man who wanted to become a great writer, and somebody said, well, define what great is. He said, I want to write the kind of stuff the whole world will read, the kind of stuff that really brings people to an emotional response. The kind of stuff that makes you scream and cry and howl and anger and pain.
While he got his wish, he works for Microsoft writing error messages that come up on your computer. He moves people emotionally. John Chapter 8 is probably, to most people, a familiar text of Scripture. It's one of the most loved or beloved stories of Jesus in the New Testament.
Because it's a story of a woman brought to him who was caught in adultery, brought by religious people, and Jesus extends such mercy to her. But it's also the story of Jesus writing something. In fact, it's the only occasion the Bible ever records that Jesus wrote something down.
Now, it wasn't permanent. He didn't write it on paper or vellum or parchment or in a computer. He wrote it on the dust of the stones of the temple courts.
It's long been blown away. But it's there nonetheless, and we're going to focus on what Jesus did and what Jesus said to both these people who brought the woman and the woman herself. Before we do, I want to read something to you written by Philip Schaff, one of the great historians of the church.
This is a story about a man named Muhammad and Napoleon. Without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined. Without the eloquence of the school, he spoke such words of life as never were spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet. Without writing a single line, he has set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. I wanted to start with that quote because that goes along with what John has in mind when he wrote what he wrote.
The theme of this story, along with the rest of the gospel of John, is Jesus Christ. Who is he? What is he like? What did he say? What did he do?
Why is he so great? So that's what I want you to keep in mind here as in the rest of the gospel of John. This really isn't a story about scribes and Pharisees who in their hypocrisy come to Jesus.
That's included, but that's not the central focus. It's not really a focused story about a woman caught in adultery, though she was and she is in the story, but that's not the principal focus. This isn't a story about let's figure out what Jesus wrote on the ground and we'll write books about it.
He did write something. We don't know what it was, but that's really not the focus. The focus of the story is how Jesus handled hypocrites, how Jesus handled people caught in gross sin and what he did and what he said. And that is why we go back to the theme of this book, Believe 879. 879 verses with that constant recurring theme of faith so that this and other stories would elevate the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily thinking.
Now before we jump into our text, verses one through 11 of John 8, we have a problem with the story. The problem is it's not found in all of the ancient manuscripts. It's found in quite a lot, but it's not found in all of them. Moreover, it's not placed here in every manuscript. In some it is, but in other places, for instance, this story is placed immediately after Luke chapter 21 verse 38. In another manuscript, it's found right after John chapter 7 verse 36. In another manuscript after John 7 verse 44 and still in another manuscript, it's tacked at the end of the Gospel of John.
Having said that, you should also know that most every scholar believes it is biblical, inspired by the Holy Spirit and to be considered part of the biblical text. Moreover, it fits the pattern of John. Have you noticed that John is developing a pattern? For instance, in chapter 5 there is an event, an incident, followed by a message based upon that incident. Chapter 6, incident, message. Chapter 7, incident, message.
Same pattern here. There is an incident and then a message. If you take out the incident, it leaves you scratching your head about the message. So rather than trying to argue and spend a whole morning trying to figure out where this thing fits, we'll just fit it right where it lies and read it as part of this text in John. Chapter 8 verse 1. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning he came again into the temple and all the people came to him and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery. And when they set her in the midst, they said to him, teacher, this woman was caught in adultery in the very act.
No, Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned. What do you say? This they said, testing him that they might have something which to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger as though he did not hear.
I love that. So when they continued asking him, he raised himself up and said to them, he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. And again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it being convicted by their conscience went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised himself up and saw no one but the woman, he said to her, woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, no one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, neither do I condemn you.
Go and sin no more. And what I'd like you to notice this morning is three aspects or characteristics about Jesus Christ in this situation. Number one, Jesus is meek with people. You'll see a fine example of that in the first couple of verses. Second, he's masterful with hypocrites. The way he handles this group with one sentence destroys their argument. And then finally, he's merciful with sinners.
Those three characteristics will occupy our time this morning. Now, I want you to go back to chapter seven. Look at the last verse of chapter seven.
It says, and everyone went to his own house. I don't know if you're like me, but sometimes I read a text of the Bible and I go, who cares? I actually think that or I think, why is that there? Why is that written? Because, I mean, you could say that about every day.
At the end of every day, everybody goes to his own house. So why is that put here? It really doesn't make sense until you read the first verse of chapter eight. And that's, by the way, where the last verse of chapter seven belongs, because it says, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. It's an odd way to begin a chapter, isn't it, the word but? You wouldn't open a novel and have the first word, but, because you go, but what? What does it refer to? But now compare them, read them together. Everyone went to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Stop there. The Mount of Olives is just east of the old city of Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane is on the Mount of Olives. If I ever take you to Jerusalem, if you ever come on a tour, one of the first things I'll show you in Jerusalem is the view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Breathtaking.
Stunning. The whole layout of the city was there. But here's the point of the passage. Everybody that day at the Feast of Tabernacles went home to their own home, but Jesus, the God of the universe, God in the human body, didn't have a home to go to. He went to the Mount of Olives. He could have probably just climbed up the narrow winding path, found a place to camp out and just slept out under the stars in communion with his father. Another possibility is that he kept going and just over the other side is a city called Bethany on the Mount of Olives. It's where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, his friends, lived.
He could have stayed with them. But here is a little snippet of his whole life. Humility. It sort of fits in with what Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 2. He sort of summed it all up by saying, Jesus, who was in very nature God and didn't think equality with God anything to be grasped or held onto, he emptied himself and came in the likeness of men and was in the body just like of a bondservant.
Here's a little example of that. Everybody went home. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives because he didn't have a place to go to. It's just another example of his humility. His whole life was like this. Have you ever thought of the humility of leaving heaven and coming to earth?
Have you ever thought of what a culture shock that would be? You're in heaven. There's angels.
They're singing. They're worshiping you. You're in constant communion with God the Father. And then you come to this earth.
It's like culture shock. And when Jesus was born, he wasn't born in Rome General Hospital with gold sheets and the best of attendance. He was born in a feeding trough in Bethlehem. He lived his life that way. When somebody came up to him, a would-be follower, and said, We'll follow you.
I'll follow you wherever you go. Jesus said, Well, you ought to know something. Foxes have holes.
Birds of the air have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. And then when he died, where did they bury him? Not in the family burial plot. There was none.
In a borrowed tomb, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. He didn't own it. He just borrowed it.
It's probably for the best. He only needed it for a weekend. But here is an example of his humility, where he stayed. Also, notice how he taught. It says in verse 2, Now early in the morning, the language designates at sunrise, at dawn. He came again into the temple, and all the people came to him, and he sat down and he taught them.
You get that? No fanfare, no press agents, no bodyguards, no angelic messenger saying, Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus. There's the absence of that here and in his entire ministry.
He simply took his place among men and came in as any rabbi would and found a place and just sat on the ground and let people come around him. Have you ever tried to imagine how he could have presented himself? I mean, he could have had a billboard outside the city of Jerusalem this week, come to the temple, Jesus speaking. He could have just sort of hovered 150 feet, 200 feet in the air over all the people in the temple, right? He could have done that and just sort of preached at him from way up there. He went, Wow.
None of that. He didn't hand out flyers and say, Come to my Bible study. He just sat down, and whoever would come came, and he served them, and he taught them, and he ministered to them. Humility. There's a story of a man who, in the early days of our country, when only the stagecoach was the mode of transportation, he noticed that there were three ticket prices, first class, second class, and third class on the stagecoach. He peeked his head inside the coach, and all the seats looked identical, so he bought third class, congratulating himself that he saved a lot of money. Why buy first class? And so the stagecoach went along until it came to a steep hill, and it stopped, and the driver announced, If you're in first class, keep your seat. If you're in second class, get out and walk. If you're in third class, get out and push. Now he got it. My point, when Jesus came to this earth, he didn't come first class. He came third class. The Son of Man came to give himself as a ransom for many, not to be served, but to serve, and this is a beautiful example here.
Something else I want you to notice. Would you go down to verse 20 of our chapter? We're told exactly where he was. These words, Jesus spoke in the treasury as he taught in the temple, and no one laid hands on him, for his hour had not yet come. The treasury is in the court of the women. I thought it would be helpful if you had a little visual example of that, and so here's a picture on the screen of the court at the lower bottom is the court of the women, where the treasury was. And so this is the setting where Jesus was with that crowd, the court of the women, the treasury. I bring that up because in a minute, they're going to bring a woman to the temple precincts. Had Jesus taught in the court of the men, they couldn't have brought the woman in. There's only two places he could have been, the court of the Gentiles or the court of the women, and he's in the court of the women by the treasury.
That's where he spoke this. Let's go on, verse three. Notice his masterful approach with these religious hypocrites. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery, and when they had set her in the midst, they said to him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery. Now notice this.
In the very act, keep that in your mind. Now Moses in the law commanded us that she should be stoned. Oh, they are so self-righteous. What do you say?
That's the heart of it. What do you say? This they said, testing him that they might have something of which to accuse him.
Little background. The scribes were the guys who copied the law on scrolls. They were professional secretaries.
Some translations call them lawyers. They wrote and copied and wrote and copied and argued the meaning of the text, and they were attached to the Pharisees who were the dominant religious influence in the land. There was only 6,000 Pharisees at the time of Jesus, but they controlled the religious atmosphere. In chapter 7, do you remember the Pharisees tried to arrest Jesus, but they couldn't? They sent officers, temple police, to arrest him, to seize him. They couldn't do it. The officers came back without Jesus, and when the Pharisees said, Well, where is he? Why didn't you bring him?
Here's what they said. Boy, can that guy preach. Nobody ever spoke like he spoke.
They were just amazed at what they heard, and they didn't bring Jesus. So now, plan B is we have to trap him. Let's trap him in something he says himself. So they bring to him what they consider an impossible, unanswerable question. A woman caught in adultery. It was typical if you faced a problem or you had an impossible situation, you bring that situation to the rabbi and you ask the rabbi what should be done.
So here's the situation, all made up. She may have indeed been caught in adultery, but it's all a trap, and they come to Jesus and ask the rabbi about what to do. Now, the problem is there is a woman, it says, verse 4, caught in adultery. The 7th commandment is you shall not commit adultery.
It was considered one of the three biggies to the Jewish people 2,000 years ago. Idolatry, murder, and adultery were the three biggies. In fact, it was such a heinous sin in God's eyes because it destroys the very fabric of the family that it's one sin in the Old Testament that they command capital punishment for. Two places, Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 22, capital punishment.
There's no exact wording as to how it should be carried out, although there is a little part of Deuteronomy where it says if there's a gal engaged to a guy and she goes out and has an affair with somebody else, she should be stoned. Well, they say the pen is mightier than the sword, and in this particular case, it certainly seems that way, doesn't it? With just a few words in the dust written by Jesus, the bloodthirsty sword of human justice gives way to the greater justice of God's love, compassion, and forgiveness. And we'll continue with our study of this fascinating incident next time. But before we leave you today, we wanted to let you know about this month's Connect with Skip resource offer. America is reaping the whirlwind of bad fruit from a generation of young men who lack the influence of a father. We desperately need to educate men of all ages and stages of life to begin to turn this destructive social trend.
Listen to Skip Heitzig. Where's dad? That's a crucial question in our world today when fathers abandon their children, a series of dominoes begin to fall with devastating results.
We see young men rampaging through streets destroyed by drugs, then continuing the vicious cycle by creating fatherless homes. We need to educate boys and men of all ages about how dads make a difference. And that's the theme of our current resource package that includes my full hour video documentary called Where's Dad? Plus seven of my most important messages to men.
I hope you'll order your copy now. Dads Make a Difference. That's the title of a critical issues package you can order now. The Dads Make a Difference package includes seven of Skip's most important messages to men and the full hour video documentary Where's Dad? hosted by Skip. I think it's pretty easy to see from just a reading through of scripture that it is dad's responsibility to set the moral, spiritual tone in the home.
Remember it was Joshua who said, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Get this package in either digital download or CD and DVD when you support Connect with Skip with your gift of $50 or more. You'll be joining us as we take Skip's Bible teachings into more major cities. Request the Dads Make a Difference package online at connectwithskip.com or by calling 1-800-922-1888. And if you'd like a copy of today's teaching, it's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping when you contact us at 1-800-922-1888. Or when you visit connectwithskip.com or write to us at P.O.
Box 95707 Albuquerque, New Mexico 87199. We'll talk more about God's forgiveness and how it sometimes clashes with our ideas of justice next time. So I hope you can join us right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
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