The love of Jesus is one that does not condemn. But neither does it condone. Rather, it is a love that invites us into the right way of living, with mercy and grace - a perfect balance of truth and love.
All right. Blessings to all of you. So good to be able to share this time with you wherever you are, near or far, I just wanna say, I’m glad you’re with us right now together. Some of you, really close by, others of you in other parts of the country, even other parts of the world. We’re connected. You are my brothers, my sisters, my friends.
And if you are, are joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry and the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. Our series is called, I Am: Finding Your Story In The Story of Jesus. In part, it’s about the famous seven declarations that Jesus made in that are recorded in John’s gospel. The seven, I am statements of Jesus.
We started talking about that in these past few weeks and you can, you can go back and revisit that if you missed it, but they have a lot to do with who Jesus said He was. He claimed He was, His identity. But our series is also about who we are to be in Him. In other words, it’s about finding our identity in Jesus, finding our story in the story of Jesus.
It has a lot to do with our purpose, our meaning, uh, who we are going to listen to, when it comes to understanding who we are, who I am. Right. We’re gonna hear many voices. Someone’s saying this, someone’s saying that. You’re in this category, you’re in that category. Some of those voices are inside of us.
They’re not just on the outside, they’re inside, but the Lord wants us to listen to His voice. He wants us to remember who He says we are, who he says I Am. Right? So as I look at the one who shows us the way, I remember that He has a way for me to go and a voice for us to listen to, that we are to find ourselves
in Him. I remember, uh, reading a story. Uh, well it was actually something that a woman named Mary Armand wrote about her own life. And she said this, I just want you to hear it. She said, “My transformation began that long-ago night and has continued throughout my life. What God says about my identity has become more important
than any other voice, trying to gain attention – Jesus came to deliver us from a confused identity and be the source in our search to find out who we are.” That’s a big part of what the Lord has come, come to do in you and in me; is to show us the way. To find out who we were meant to be. And, you know, I just, I just wanna pray.
I just wanna ask God to bless what we’re about to look at then together, because even now, Lord, I just want to welcome Your presence to come. There are so many voices. Some of those voices are loud and clear within and others are on the outside, but the voice that we need to listen to the most is Your voice.
Holy Spirit, come and speak to our hearts today. We ask for Your goodness and Your grace to flow like a gift. Heal, strengthen, renew. This is my prayer in Jesus name. Last week, we looked at the first I Am statement when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” It was in John 6, but now we come to the second of the I Ams, that famous I Am is when Jesus declared in John 8,
I Am, and it’s one of my favorites, “I am the light of the world.” Now in order to really appreciate what Jesus said is helpful to see it in its context and sit with what the Bible describes as leading up to it. And there’s this, I don’t know, just absolutely remarkable, beautiful, unforgetable exchange that Jesus had concerning a woman. Her, her name,
we don’t even know it. A woman who is described as being, having been caught in adultery. And this exchange is what precedes that second declaration of Jesus. When He says I am the light of the world, and it’s really helpful to, to see it as part of something that follows up the incident that we’re about to look at.
I mean, now it needs to be admitted and you’ll see this in some, some Bibles, you’ll see a little notation on the bottom when you get to John 8, you’ll see that it’s mentions that, uh, some of the portion that is recorded, may not be found in the original manuscript. So it, some people think that it was, uh, recorded originally in Luke’s Gospel and then inserted in. Others feel it was inserted in afterwards, but all the Bible commentators and historians that I respect the most, none of them, uh, actually doubt it.
It’s the, some of them – okay. Some of them may doubt the chronology and its placement, but nobody doubts its veracity. So, you know, I, I think what I want us to do is just look at this passage in John, as if there was a connection point and just receive it as the teaching it was meant to be, because it’s just so rich, so good.
And you’re gonna be blessed. I, I know I was, when I looked at this passage and just, just how it connects to what Jesus declared Himself to be. Look at John 8 with me, it says “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. It was early in the morning when He came again to the temple. And all the people,” that is a large group of them, “came to Him and He sat down and He taught them.”
That’s the picture we’re given , uh, I’ve been to, uh, Jerusalem in the area of the temple. You can still visit there today. You know, the, the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall is there. You can walk in the grounds and you can get a feel for, what it must have been like the, the sound, the feel of the, the environment, the stone, with its colors and hues and the gold beige, grayish vanilla color of those rocks.
They, uh, they speak in a way still today. And in my mind’s eye, I want you to join me in this. I imagine Jesus coming to the temple early in the morning, the sun is just breaking over the buildings and houses that are there. And the people have come to listen to His words, to Him teach. And it’s special because He teaches like no one else ever has.
It’s something about it. It’s so accessible, so easy for people to connect to it. And when He talked out the scriptures and what was said of old and the law and the prophets, He spoke not as one who was just commenting on them, but. He spoke as one who had authority, as if He were God speaking to us. Something about Jesus, His words still speak to us
if we are willing to sit at His feet and listen to them and for them, right. They still speak, Holy Spirit, continue to speak to our hearts as we sit with Your words, Jesus. And, uh, yeah, they were there and it was a beautiful moment. And again, in our mind’s eye, just see them there; mouth’s open, listening, drinking it in.
And then all of a sudden. In the middle of His teaching, there’s this scuffling going on, but it’s behind them. Initially, they think maybe it’s just something they should ignore, but you’ve probably been in that situation where something starts to get louder and louder. And you, you realize, wow, this is now becoming a disruptive moment.
And everybody starts to turn back and there’s a murmuring that starts to, to grow and you can hear yelling and screaming. And then all this sudden the, the crowd that has been assembled to listen, they, they open up and there’s this group of men. And they’re, they’re walking towards Jesus. They’re leaders,
they’re the temple authorities and the scribes and the Pharisees. And they’re, they’re dragging someone who, what is, is a woman they’re dragging. And she looks, she’s a mess. In fact, she’s barely clothed and they throw her at the feet of Jesus. They just throw her down into the dirt. and they have a question for Him, right?
So that’s the, this is this, it says, look, it says on verse 3 it’s described here, “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, placing her in the midst.” The older version says she was caught in the very act. Now setting aside the fact that there were two people involved, while only her here, setting that aside.
Let’s just imagine for a moment. And we agree it was a patriarchal culture. But imagine her screaming and crying. She’s unkept this point. She’s barely clothed. She’s utterly humiliated. It’s shameful. It’s true, what she did may have been shameful, but now she’s there standing. She’s picked herself up,
perhaps. She’s standing there in front of everyone. She’s not sure what they’re gonna do next. She’s been hearing things like she’s gonna get stoned. They’re gonna kill her. They’re gonna punish her for what she has done. But she’s thrown on the ground in front of Jesus. And there’s nothing to suggest that what they were accusing her of didn’t happen, but it was also something far more than that.
It, it really wasn’t about the woman. It was that really a, a delicious setup for these men who sought to expose and entrap Jesus here in the temple. That was their real motivation. It was less about her and more about Jesus. There was a power struggle going on. They were not comfortable with Jesus. He did not put up with their ways.
He exposed them. He was unafraid of them. He exposed them in front of the people. The people loved Jesus. As a result, there were a lot of those who were in power, the temple authorities in particular, who were trying to figure out a way to get rid of Jesus. Uh they, they hoped that this, this would create a scenario where at the very least He would be undermined.
Look what it says in verse 4, “they said to Him ‘teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now, in the law, as you know, in the law, Moses,” whom You say You believe in, in the scriptures, You teach us, uh, and comment on frequently. But “‘Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what,'” and I imagine them looking at the people. “‘So
what do you say?'” Now again, remember this was a political power play. Uh, Rome had made it clear that this aspect of the law of Moses could not be enforced. I mean, when right now, at this time in history, the Jewish people were ruled as so much of the ancient world was at this time by the Roman Empire. Rome would give different people groups
differing degrees of latitude. The Jewish people had actually been given a tremendous amount of latitude. The understanding was if they paid their taxes submitted to the authority of Rome, allowed the banners to fly and, uh, remembered that capital punishment was only something that Rome was allowed to do,
they were not. Which is why later on, they’re going to have to appeal to Pilot to have Jesus put to death. They can’t do it on their own. But this is the background for the exchange that occurs. We’re told in verse 6, now they said they, “this, they said to test Him, that they may have, might have some charge to bring against Him.”
So it, it was a chess move. The woman who was caught again, simply upon, they wanted to know what will your answer, be? And if He said, well she should go free. Then they would say, well, then you’re a false teacher because you are contradicting the law of Moses. And at the very least they would succeed in undermining Him in the eyes of many people, not all.
But then if Jesus said, well, if you want to be exact, she should be stoned. Then that would contradict Rome and expose Him to being portrayed as a threat to Roman authority, which is ultimately, like I said, the angle they would take. But initially it looked as if Jesus was trapped, stuck between the, uh, uh, proverbial rock and a hard place.
Right. It’s almost like they said, check. Your move. And what comes next is really for all time. Right? Because it says that as they were talking, what should you do with her? What do you say? You know, Jesus is just there. He’s actually bent down says, and He’s writing with His finger, on the ground. Now, maybe He wasn’t writing something specific at that moment. He was just doing something, but He was not answering them and this bothered them. And they said, it says in verse 7, “as they continued to ask Him,”
so what’s your answer? What’s your answer? What do you say it? Should we put her to death? Should we stone her or let her go? What’s your decision? And He said to them, and these words ring for all time, “let him who is without sin among you, this is what I say. Let the one among you that is without sin, you throw the first stone.”
That is what I say.
I remember something, my favorite Bible commentator of all time, G. Campbell, Morgan, something he said. he said, “that sentence,” when Jesus said Let him who is without sin throw the first stone,” “that sentence put me out of the stone-throwing business for the rest of my life.” it is true. What should, as we shall see, still say with Jesus around this issue? That there are some things that, uh, are wrong. I don’t think Jesus in any way, when He defends this woman, what Jesus is about to do is suggesting that her conduct was right. He didn’t, He didn’t say that. Uh, He was very clear that there were things that were right and things that were wrong, that His words were true.
That words of God are, are true and righteous all together. That God, God is not a relativist, that there is a way that leads to life. And there’s a way that leads to death. There are things that God will bless, and there are things that will not be blessed, they will be cursed. But there is, there is something about our own brokenness that needs to be addressed, that Jesus has made it very clear.
It’s not just one of many ways that can get us to God, that He is the way the truth and the life. Will we be talking about that one later, when He declares it. So it wasn’t as if Jesus didn’t say there was a right and a wrong, that there wasn’t, real truth and, and something that should be done, that is right.
Uh, in God’s eyes. It’s just that throwing stones is not the Christian way. Humble declaration of truth is. And sometimes that’s what true courage actually looks like. But listen, loved ones. It’s not, if Jesus taught us anything, it’s not mean spirited, judgementalism. There’s a time when we must stand against the grain of culture and be willing to even be misunderstood in our humble commitment to love and in truth, right.
Those two things together, but never in a spirit of, of anger and hate . And we are not to be a, a judgemental people. Here’s the thing, most of us, well, let me put it this way. All of us will need the mercy of God. None of us are, and that includes the most redeemed and best among us. And I don’t even know who that is.
None of us will not need God’s mercy in our lives. I needed it the day that I came to Him and said, Lord, you know, forgive me of my sins, have mercy on me. I am a sinner and I need Your grace at work in my life. I receive you as my Savior. I accept Your gift of life that You have for me. And if you’ve never done that, oh boy, I would encourage you to make that step. It’s,
it’s that good. Lord, I just want to say, I’m sorry. And I ask You to forgive me of my sins and I receive You as my Savior and You’re my Lord. And I confess You as such and I receive the gift of life that You want to give to me now and forever. And, and, and then be baptized. And if you’ve never been baptized, boy, we, we would, we would love to help you to be able to make that statement, that declaration. But my point is this, that the first, all of us know that there was a moment when we accepted Jesus, we were declaring our need for His mercy, but here’s the thing. We never stopped needing His mercy. I don’t. I need His mercy every day. I, I need His mercy for things that I do that are either wrong or I should have done.
It’s both deeds done and undone. It’s word said and unsaid. I need His mercy. Blessed are the merciful, Jesus taught us. For, they shall obtain mercy. So really the larger point is this that we are to love like Jesus loves – and Jesus was committed to both truth and love. It was, uh, it was not one without the other, but it was complimentary.
It wasn’t as if Jesus said it doesn’t matter how we live and one way is as good of another as another. And there’s no such thing as something being immoral, no. Jesus was very clear. There are things that are displeasing to God and damaging to ourselves. That’s just a fact. That are sinful and wrong in God’s eyes.
That’s actually gonna come up in this exchange. But that always needs to be coupled with love because that’s why God came. For God so loved this world that He gave. The Christian way is a way of love. Warren Wiersbe an author that I greatly uh, respect, he wrote this about it. He said, “truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
Now there’s some, there’s some depth there. Truth without love is brutality. In other words, If I may say I’m standing for the truth, you know, but if it’s, if it’s done without love, then it is so damaging. It’s hurtful. It’s harsh. It’s not what Jesus was or is. But if it’s love, but there’s no, but, but the truth component is missing,
it doesn’t matter. Like it’s sort of like, as long as we love. As long as we love. But it, there’s no qualification to it. It’s like a river that has no boundaries. It can actually hurt and damage and flood and kill. And he, he calls it hypocrisy. Why? Because it’s really not love because it’s false. It’s not true.
So love is not meant to simply be accommodating apart from truth. It’s actually meant, sometimes the most loving thing we can do is tell the truth in humility. And the most unloving thing we can do is accommodate. And I know a lot of us don’t want to be unloving or percieved as unloving. So we back away from the truth.
That’s not the way of Jesus, but neither is the way of Jesus to say, I am for the truth, and then to have a spirit that is out of harmony with His. But anyway, back to this, back to this passage, again, humble truth and truthful love. That’s maybe another way to say it, humble truth and truthful love. That’s what we’re pursuing.
That was the way of Jesus. Something about though His words stop them perhaps when Jesus said, okay, stone her, but let the one who is without sin through the first stone. Perhaps one of them started to reach for a rock but then when His words hit them… others perhaps already had the, the, the stones in their hands,
they were ready. But the words convicted them. Something about the way Jesus said them, the way He looked at them, the moment it, it caught them. They, look. The ones who had caught her in the act of adultery, they were caught off guard by His words. Verse 8, and once more, He bent down and He wrote on the ground, but when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones.
And this happened, and Jesus was just left alone with the woman’s standing before Him. So all the accusers left. One by one, this has led by the way. And I think you may have noticed it. It has led some people to surmise that, and it cannot be known for sure, but some people have surmised that because it’s not stated that that Jesus actually, when He was writing in the ground was writing something, He was aware of; a sin that He was aware of, of each one of them from the oldest to the youngest.
And we don’t know that for sure, but it is certainly worth noting that they left from the oldest to the youngest one at a time. And Jesus was writing in the sand and writing in the dirt. And whether that indeed happened, all we know this, all that was left by the time time Jesus was done, I imagine each one dropping their rock and walking away.
And by the time Jesus was done, there was just this terrified woman standing before Him. And she looked at Jesus and, you know, she spoke these words. Uh,
He spoke these words to her after He rose from the ground that He had been writing in and He stood up and He said, look at verse 10 “woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? I looked at her. And I imagine her, “she said, no one Lord.” No one. No one asked. “And Jesus said to her, neither, neither do I condemn you.”
By the way, the only one who could have legitimately thrown the rock, was Jesus. He said let he who is without sin throw the first stone at her. Only He could have done it. and He says to her, I do not condemn you. Go. Oh, oh. But one more thing. Go, but sin no more. Go “but from now on sin, no more.”
In other words, I do not condemn you, so go on your way. But also, sin no more. Like stop doing what you’ve been doing. He’s talking about the life she’s been living, the beautiful, I mean, this is the beautiful way of Jesus. It it’s mercy and grace and a reminder that there is a right way and a wrong way. And He calls us to that right way.
He could have said, look that that’s no sin. Jesus could have said go, uh, I don’t condemn you go on your way. Uh, you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with doing whatever you feel like doing. If you feel, if it makes you feel good, do it. Right? You know, you’re not hurting anyone, just being who you are. He could have said that, but He didn’t.
We must remember that. That’s not what He said. That’s not what He says now. What He says is go and sin no more. That’s forgiveness. That’s a restart. That’s a call to a better way. He would not condemn, but neither would He condone. See the, He would not condemn her. He would not judge her harshly, but, but He didn’t want her to go back to what she was doing.
He gave her the freedom to find a new beginning. He called her up to a higher place, a, a healing place, a healing place. He always does. That’s what the Lord does He, you know why? Because true love doesn’t settle for the lowest common denominator. It’s not about what I can get away with. It’s about what’s gonna bring life.
It reaches to the sky. That’s what worship does. It allows for the love of God to flow. When I reach high, when I come low, but I reach high. See what I’m saying? The Lord wants us healed and He wants us whole. And that’s a journey. That’s a process in a way, uh, in Christ, we are, I don’t know.
We are always healing. You’ll say a one more time in a way in Christ, we are always healing. That is we’re being healed. There’s things that God is working in and out of us, He’s healing us from the inside. So the way of Christ is a way of healing, but it’s also a way of healing, not just in the sense that to be in Christ
we are brought into a place of healing and wholeness. We’re invited into that place, but we’re also called to be healers. It’s a way of healing. We are committing ourselves to become wounded healers in his name. As Henry Nouwen describe it, a wounded healer. That I am willing to be a healer of others, right.
In His name. And, oh, and by the way, that’s often how some of our healing comes, in healing I am healed. Just as in refreshing I am refreshed. A lot of times the healing of the Lord comes when I am willing to be a healer. Yes. Even in my shortcomings and brokenness in my own need for mercy. But I am willing to represent His heart.
It, it is just the Jesus way. Oh, and one more thing. Or as I heard one person say one more, think. He doesn’t – and when He says I don’t condemn you, what He’s saying is, He doesn’t say to her, shame on you. He actually says, let my light shine through. So it’s not about shame on you.
It’s about let my light shine through. It’s so what it’ll be with us. It’s not shame on you, but shame off of you. Not shame on you, but shame off of you. But not just shame off of you, but let my light shine through you. See that’s a that’s this is the way of Jesus. This is amazing. What the Lord wants. It.
It’s so good. It’s God’s will and way for us. You know, not shame on you, shame off of you. Neither do I condemn you, but even more than that. And, and it’s not, it’s not just that, but it’s let my light then shine through. Go and sin no more. Right. It’s something better even than just not being condemned. It’s it’s being filled with something better.
And, and so, and then verse 12. And it just, you know, ties all together. “And again, Jesus spoke to them.” And again, what we don’t know because of the placement of the passage, was this right on the heels of that moment? In, in other words, Jesus just turns around and says these words, or was there a space between? We don’t know. What we do know is He said these words and they were very close to what happened here. “For Jesus
again spoke to them saying,” and here it is, “I am the light of the world. And whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” I see this in, I, I just imagine in my mind’s eye this moment happening and Jesus just say, I am the light of the world. whoever follows Me will not, will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
I’m the light of the world. I’m the light of this, all that is. The way of true life. Yes. If you will follow Me, you will find it. You will not be walking aimlessly, lost in the land of the shadows. Lost in the pain. No. If you follow Me, you will not be lost in the land of, of, of pain or fear or shame. But you will have the light of life shining in you and through you. We’re talking about whole heart healing.
Yes, we are. Who, how good is that? Oh, that’s what God does. He loves to do that in you and me. Now I have a few more things to say on the back side of that, but really this is actually a perfectly lead in to the song, because the song that we’re gonna share is gonna talk about, our whole heart. Before we even go there,
I do wanna remind everyone it’s the time that I get to do. But I wanna remind everyone about our time of giving. Remember, especially those of you who are part of our church community, and it makes a huge difference. And also it makes a huge difference in you. To be faithful to God in your tithes and your offerings.
Remember, you can send that in to our offices. You can go right online and do it, or you can, as so many of us do, um, You know, go through the app. That’s what I do. And, uh, just be really faithful unto the Lord. But always give Him first, your heart, your broken self. Right? All right. With that in mind, here we go.