What Jesus Says to Adulterers
One of the most human of all instincts is our tendency to hide. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, first rebelled against God their natural inclination in the face of their sin was to hide from each other (fig leaves) and to hid from God (behind the bushes). At a fundamental level, you and I are also tarnished, unclean, damaged goods and we feel this - don’t we? - at the deepest levels of our being. Well, given the burden of this uncleanness we are prone to hide it at all costs – through either numbing ourselves or wearing certain masks - and the thought of being found out becomes our greatest fear.
In this text we will look at a woman whose mask-wearing was over. She was utterly exposed and found herself in the exact situation we fear most: standing before Jesus himself just moments after being caught. And in that moment we will once more Let Jesus – rather than our expectations of Him or our preconceived notions about Him – speak.
As the story unfolds, first Jesus reveals the nefarious motives of the religious leaders who drag this woman to Jesus’ feet. Like all of us, when the leaders’ sinful nature is exposed, they go off and hide. Meanwhile, Jesus – the truly sinless One – stays. And what does he say? Well, put simply, he neither condemns this woman nor does he condone her sin. Instead - in a dramatic twist - the revelation of this woman’s sin and shame becomes the starting point of her forgiveness and transformation.
In a similar way, we too must come out from our hiding in order to receive both the cleansing and the forgiveness offered at the feet of our Savior. As 1 John 1:9 says, God – through Christ’s merciful sacrifice – is now bound by his justice to forgive us and also provides the deep purification for which our very souls long. While this grace cannot be earned, it must be received and appropriated in our lives.
With the shedding of our sin and shame also comes the need for a new way of life. The old pleasures, desires and habits need to be replaced by new patterns. God provides precisely the delight for which our souls truly long. Surprisingly, we find that God is, after all, the most delightful and fulfilling thing we can experience in this life or the next. As C.S. Lewis reminds us, our desires are not too strong but entirely too weak. “We are far too easily pleased.”1
1 C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 26.
- In what ways do think you are most prone to hide from others and/or God? Do you numb yourself in some way (entertainment, busyness, alcohol, drugs, partying, etc.)? Do you tend to put on a certain face/personality such that others don’t know the “real you”?
- What keeps you from believing that Jesus really, really, really has forgiven your sin? Is there an aspect of Christ’s “atoning sacrifice” that you don’t fully understand? Read 2 Cor 5:21. How would you restate this verse in your own words/understanding?
- Is there a particular sin for which you need to receive God’s cleansing? If so, consider sharing that with someone you trust and have them pray that God would remove any guilt or shame associated with that sin. Read 1 John 1:5-10 together and thank God that this is true now of your relationship with Him.
- Have you ever experienced the “infinite joy” available with God that C.S. Lewis talks about? If so, how was it different than the pleasure we are used to experiencing through other means?
other sermons in this series