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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8 am service, 2008-12-14

Text: John 8:1-11

A few weeks ago there was an article in a local newspaper about an Australian High Court judge who fell asleep during a court hearing. The article reported that Judge Ian Dodd (age 56) fell asleep several times during the trial of 2 alleged drug traffickers 4 years ago. He was even snoring in court - much to the amusement and distraction of the jury. Court officials resorted to dropping documents loudly in an attempt to wake the napping judge. Although the 2 offenders were convicted of drug trafficking, they now face a retrial because it is feared that there has been a miscarriage of justice. 

Judge Dodd, who has acquired the nickname, 'Judge Nodd,' has been diagnosed as having a medical condition called sleep apnea, and he has been retired from service. Unfortunately his is not the only instance of judicial sleepiness. There have been at least 14 other documented cases, 10 of which resulted in a retrial, and 5 of which resulted in the dismissal or retirement of the sleeping judge. 

I use this illustration with no intention to discredit the judicial system but only to show that high court judges are humans after all, just like all of us - they have physical limitations which may affect the judgments they pass in court. This morning we are going to learn about a Judge who has no limitations whatsoever. And every judgment that is passed by Him is absolutely just and fair, with no need for retrial or appeal. This Judge is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are all quite used to thinking of Jesus as our Saviour, as the Son of God, as the Good Shepherd, or as our Prophet, Priest and King. But we should remember that the Bible also speaks of Him as a Judge. According to John 5:22 'For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.' According to 2 Timothy 4:1, Jesus 'shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.' Seven verses later, He is called the Righteous Judge who will give the crown of righteousness to all who love His appearing. Perhaps you may wonder what kind of Judge Jesus is. 

One passage that we can learn from is John 8:1-11 - which is the account of the woman who was caught in adultery. Let us turn our Bibles to the passage and read it (Read). The account begins with Jesus coming to Jerusalem early in the morning to teach the multitudes who had gathered in the Temple. The Feast of Tabernacles had just ended the day before and the crowds were about to leave Jerusalem and begin their long journey home. But as Christ was teaching them in the Temple, He was rudely interrupted by a group of scribes and Pharisees who brought a woman before Him and asked Him to pass judgment on her immediately. Why did they do this?

In our study of the previous chapter of John's Gospel, we had seen that the Pharisees were trying to kill Jesus (7:1,19) because He had spoken very boldly against their sins (7:7) and also because He had supposedly violated the Sabbath day (7:23). But they had no success. His teaching of God's Word was so refreshing and captivating that the huge crowds who gathered to listen to Jesus made it impossible for anyone to arrest Him (7:30, 32, 44). Even a group of officers that the chief priests and Pharisees sent to arrest Jesus returned empty-handed, saying, 'Never man spake like this man.' (7:46)

Since all their attempts to arrest Jesus had failed, the Pharisees now tried to do something else - they hatched a plot to turn public opinion against Him. We shall now look at vv.3-5 to see: 

I. The Plot against the Faultless Judge (vv.3-5)

On the pretext of asking Him for help to solve a judicial problem, they brought a woman before Him, and said, 'Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?' Interestingly, the law of Moses against adultery as found in Deuteronomy 22:22 states: 'If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman.' In our text, only the guilty woman was brought before Jesus. Where was the guilty man? Why wasn't he brought before Jesus? 

Something was clearly amiss. The scribes and Pharisees were not doing this because they loved righteousness and hated sin as God does. Neither were they doing this to preserve the moral standards of society. Verse 6 tells us that they were doing this only to tempt Jesus, so that they would be able to accuse Him before the crowds. Their ulterior motive was to find fault with what He said, and to utterly discredit Him so that the crowds would not stop them from arresting Him. And they thought that they had found a fool-proof, water-tight way to do this. If Jesus were to say, 'Let the woman not be stoned,' they would simply tell the crowd that Jesus has contradicted the Law of God. He is therefore nothing but a false prophet and all His claims should be dismissed. But if Jesus were to say, 'The woman must be stoned to death,' then they would tell the crowd that Jesus was inciting them to go against their Roman authorities, since Rome never allowed the Jews to stone anyone for adultery.

These scribes and Pharisees thought that by putting Jesus on the horns of a dilemma like this, they could easily find fault with Him. They were so confident that their plot to trap Jesus into doing or saying something wrong will surely succeed. But how wrong they were! They should have known better than to try to find fault with a Faultless Judge. How futile it is for puny man to attempt to find fault with Jesus.

Have you ever done that? Well, perhaps you have. If you thought that it was unfair of God to allow you to suffer, you are trying to find fault with Him. If you are angry that God has not given you the blessings you had hoped for, you are trying to find fault with Him. If you are dissatisfied with your present state, and you are unhappy that God has made you like this, you are trying to find fault with Him. Please understand this: No one can ever find any fault with the Faultless Judge. He is absolutely righteous in everything that He does. It is invariably the ones who try to find fault with Him who are full of faults.

This was clearly the case with the scribes and Pharisees in our text. Their faults were so evident in all that they did and said. They brought the woman to Him, but they did not bring the man who was involved in the adultery. Isn't this a double standard? They called Jesus 'Master' in v.4. But a day earlier they had refered to Him as a deceiver (7:12,47). Isn't that hypocrisy? The scribes and Pharisees accorded Him the honour of being a Judge over the accused woman, but this was done only to dishonour Him and subject Him to their own judgment. That obviously makes them guilty of treachery.

And look at the way these scribes and Pharisees regarded a fellow human being: They treated the poor woman like dirt. They gleefully accused her of adultery and allowed her no opportunity to plead her case before them. They even exulted in the fact that she was caught red-handed and they fully exploited this. Where is the spirit of compassion and meekness that God's people ought to have when dealing with someone who has sinned? How could they speak so lightly about stoning her without trembling at the excruciating pain that such punishment brings? It is plain that the woman's accusers stand to be accused of faults that were much worse than hers. And yet, here they were, trying to find fault with the Faultless Judge through a plot they had devised against Him. 

Dearly beloved, before we pass judgment on them I think we should examine ourselves to see if we have done the same thing. Have you ever been upset about the many faults you see in others but been completely blind to your own faults? Have you been critical of the mistakes of others but excused your own mistakes? If you have been doing this, then you are no better than these self-righteous, hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. And you need to have your eyes opened to judge yourself before you can judge others. This is what Jesus did to the scribes and Pharisees in vv.6-9. Here we see:

II. The Prudence of the Wise Judge (vv.6-9)

There are 3 things that Jesus did here, which demonstrate how wise and skilful He was in handling a difficult situation. Firstly, He 'stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.' Many have tried to guess what words Jesus may have written on the ground. Some say that He wrote down the names of the woman's accusers. Others think that He wrote a list of all the sins they were committing. But the point is not what Jesus wrote on the ground, but what He communicated by His act of stooping down and writing on the ground. It was a non-verbal way of saying, 'I don't have to listen to what you are saying. I don't need to comply with your demands to judge this woman.' And perhaps this silence of Jesus may also have been intended to turn those scribes and Pharisees away from their sin of plotting against Him.

There are times when God is silent to us and it seems that He does not hear us when we pray. We keep calling Him and asking Him, but He gives no answer. Psalm 66:18 tells us why - It says, 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.' Dearly beloved, have you been regarding iniquity in your heart? Perhaps there is something you keep doing despite knowing that it is sinful and that God is displeased with it. Perhaps there is an idol in your life that God hates but you refuse to remove it. As a result of this, your prayer life suffers. God seems to ignore you and pay no attention to you. If this is true of you, please take time to examine your life and repent of your sin. Then you will find your fellowship with God restored and that He is no more silent toward you.

Now, back in our text, as the scribes and Pharisees kept on pressing Him for an answer, He broke His silence. He did not do it to give in to their demands, but only to make them see their own faults. This is the second thing He did which displayed His prudence as a wise judge. According to v.7 He said to them, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.' Now, this was not the answer they were expecting to hear. It took them completely by surprise. It was as if the blazing searchlight they had aimed at the woman had now been turned directly on them when He said, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.' 

Then Jesus fell silent again to allow time for these words to penetrate deep down into their hearts and minds. This brings us to the third thing that Jesus did as the wisest judge of all - He convicted them all of their sins. Although He went back to writing on the ground, the Word that had gone forth from His mouth was working actively on His behalf. Like a sharp two-edged sword it pierced 'even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and it was the discerner of the thoughts and intents of their hearts.' (Hebrews 4:12) 

Dearly beloved, do you know that whenever you read or hear the Word of God aright it will expose all your hidden thoughts and motives? Every nook and corner of your soul will come under its powerful searchlight until you become aware that many of the things you did or said are sinful. This is why 2 Timothy 3:16 says that the Word of God is profitable for reproof. And as the Word that Jesus spoke to the woman's accusers did its work of reproving them, each of them heard the same verdict pronounced on them 'Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!' 

You see, the wise Judge does not need to pronounce the verdict, because He has someone to do it for Him. He knows that He already has an ally to do that for Him inside every person. That ally is called Conscience (v.9). And when the Consience of the scribes and Pharisees pronounced them guilty, they left the place one by one. No one told them to go. They left of their own accord with their heads hanging down in shame, because they were convicted of their sins. The woman's accusers became the accused. None of them were without sin, and therefore none of them were qualified to cast the first stone at her. However, there was One at that place who was qualified to cast the first stone - Who was it? It was Jesus Christ, the Faultless Judge! Because He is without any sin, He has the right to cast the first stone at any sinner, including you and me. 

Do you know that we all deserve to be stoned by Him? We have all sinned against Him and come short of the glory of God. We have all grieved the Righteous Judge by our thoughts, words and deeds. By right He should sentence us all to die an eternal death in the fires of Hell. His justice clearly demands it. But His mercy delivers us from it. This turned out to be the blessed experience of the accused woman. And so we come to the final part of the passage where we see:

III. The Pardon of the Merciful Judge (vv.10-11)

According to v.10 Jesus looked up and saw no one but the woman. All the rest had left the place while He was writing on the ground. Only the woman had stayed behind. This brings out one question -Why did the woman stay there when there was now nothing to keep her from leaving? She had been brought there forcefully by her cruel accusers, she had been frightened by their plans to have her stoned to death. She had waited in terrible suspense when Jesus said, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.' Surely after going through such a harrowing experience she would not miss her golden opportunity to make a quick escape when everyone had gone and Jesus was looking down. What was it that made her stay there before Jesus? 

I would suggest that there is only one thing that could have kept her there: She was convicted of her own sin of adultery. She was willing to face the Judge because she knew that she had sinned and that she deserved to be judged for her sin. This means she must have had the right view of her sin. It was not merely caused by a momentary lapse of her good judgment. It was an inexcusable act of rebellion. She was not merely the helpless victim of someone's irresistible seduction. She was an active and willing participant in adultery. 

That is the way that you ought to regard your sins. You must not deny your sin or try to shift the blame to someone else, but take full ownership of it. You must not reduce your sin or excuse your sin, but take it seriously as a monstrous blemish that cannot be left in your soul. You must see your sin the way that the Righteous Judge sees it. It is a hideous stain that corrupts your soul and drags it down to destruction. Your sin may not necessarily be the same one as the woman who stood before Jesus. Hers was the sin of adultery. Yours may be the sin of lustful thoughts, or the sin of pride, or of covetousness, envy, dishonesty, hypocrisy, gossiping or lying. Whatever your sin may be, it deserves the same treatment from you - You must accept full responsibility for it and repent of it before the Righteous Judge! Will you do this today?

Will you hear Him saying to you 'Go, and sin no more'? Those were the words that Jesus spoke to the woman in verse 11. Now, in that same verse Jesus had also said to her, 'Neither do I condemn thee.' Some may understand this to mean that Jesus was saying that the woman had done nothing worthy of condemnation. That is far from the truth. The fact that He told her to sin no more shows us that what she did was a sin worthy of condemnation. The words, 'Neither do I condemn thee,' only mean that Jesus was willing to withhold the condemnation her sin deserved because of His mercy.

He who should cast the first stone at her for her sin willingly spared her from being stoned. Thus the merciful Judge pardoned her and told her to go and sin no more. Dearly beloved, have you come to Jesus the merciful Judge to receive His pardon for all your sins? Do you believe that He will pardon you? If you don't, please listen to what He said in Isaiah 55:7 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.'

Nothing more is mentioned after verse 11 of our text about the woman. But I like to believe that she truly repented of her sins, and that she never went back to her old ways again, because she had been touched by the great mercy she had received from the faultless, wise and merciful judge. But I cannot say the same at all for her accusers. This event took place about 6 months before Jesus was arrested, falsely accused and delivered to be crucified at Calvary. What these scribes and Pharisees had failed to do to Jesus here in John 8, they finally succeeded in doing 10 chapters later. They had gone from the place where they had accused the woman, but they had sinned some more. 

Dearly beloved, which of these two will it be for you? Will you 'go and sin no more,' or will you 'go and sin some more'? If you are convicted of your sins today, and if you have received mercy and pardon from the Lord, please leave your sins at the Cross of Calvary and don't return to them any more. If you have not repented of your sins yet and made Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour, I urge you to do it now without any more delay. Procrastination will only bring very costly consequences. When God calls you to be saved from your sins and you do not respond to it immediately, you risk losing your soul to eternal death! 

So please receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, and believe in Him. What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Firstly it means accepting everything that the Bible says about Him and about yourself as true - that Jesus is the Son of God who came down from heaven to be made a sacrifice for sin, and that you are a sinner who deserves nothing but judgment from God. Secondly, you must put your trust entirely in Jesus alone to save you, and throw away whatever confidence you may have in your own good works or in any other thing to save you. And thirdly, believing in Jesus means surrendering your life to Him once and for all with no thought of turning back. He must be the Lord and master of everything in your life.

For those of you who are already Christians, please remember what you have learned this morning about Jesus as the Faultless Judge, the Wise Judge and the Merciful Judge. Seek to live every day of your life for Him, loving Him and looking forward to the blessed day, when you will see the Lord, the Righteous Judge face to face and receive your crown of righteous from Him.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25