John 8 Ash Wednesday 2010

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Sermon Date: 
17 Feb 2010
Bible Base: 
John 8
Preacher: 
David Jeans

Character 1 (Pharisee)
Well we’ve got him now. Two birds with one stone – three with any luck!
We’ve made a public exhibition of this sinful woman and made a stand for moral standards – perhaps that will get this rabble back to the synagogues.
And we’ve put Jesus in a difficult spot.
And it’s good for the husband too. If they just divorced she will keep her property, whereas if she dies he gets it all. Hopefully the Temple will get a cut. He’ll be pleased we set that trap for her – witnesses arranged too, so that the law is properly applied. And she thought that fool loved her, when he was just setting her up for us! Thank you God that you did not make me a woman!
So what will Jesus do? If he lets her off he shows himself to be soft on sin and on law and order – and so much for all that stuff he says about seeking to do God’s will. If he says she should be stoned he puts himself above the Roman governor and he will be destroyed by the Romans. Either way we’ve got him!
What is he doing? Writing in the sand? I do believe the man is embarrassed! Well, he should be made aware of the ways of the world, shouldn’t he?
Oh, he’s saying something now. ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’. What does he mean? I’m not a sinner – I fast twice a week and give a tithe of all that I get, and all Jerusalem knows about my praying at the temple. I’m a pillar of the synagogue – one of the few God can rely on, I’d say. Is he trying to say that I’m a sinner? How dare he! She’s rubbish, but people like me keep our nation spiritually healthy. We must rid ourselves of people like her – and soft touches like this Jesus if it comes to that. Look at the way he’s looking at her. All concerned and caring. Could be more to that than meets the eye, I shouldn’t wonder. ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’; - let’s do it then!
Hang on though, some of the others are slinking off. Well, they’re not sinners. They know the law backwards and inside out.......Oh, I get it....He’s clever, this Jesus. If we say we’re without sin we’re claiming to be perfect like God, and that’s blasphemy. He’s wriggled out of it again.
But we’ll catch him eventually. We may have to do difficult and unpleasant things, but we owe it to the nation and to God to get rid of this fellow Jesus. We will uphold the dignity of the law and of our religion.
 
Character 2 (Woman)
They caught us last night – funny that they seemed to know we were going to meet. Funny, too, that he’s not here. What are they going to do to me? The law says that I should be stoned – and this lot would do it too!
Where are they taking me? Who is that man? ....Oh, it’s him ....it’s Jesus. They say that he’s friendly to sinners – but I heard him say that if you even lust after someone in your heart you’re guilty of adultery. I wish I’d listened to him. He seems pretty tough on sin. He won’t want to be friendly to a real sinner like me. Why have they brought me to him? I’d rather see anyone but him – he makes me feel so ashamed.
Oh, I see their game – they’re just using me. If he says I should be stoned they’ll get the Romans on to him.  If he doesn’t, he will be caught out disobeying the law. They’re really after him, not me at all. I’m just being used – typical of that lot.
What’s that he’s saying? ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’....Oh they don’t like that. Even they can’t publicly claim that they are sinless, however much they might think it. Off they all go – and good riddance!
No, hang on a minute – that leaves me alone with him! What will he say to me? ‘Let him who is without sin ....’ Maybe he’s going to do the stoning himself, he’s the only one who passes that test!
Here it comes, he’s going to look at me ....funny, I see no judgment in those eyes, only love ...and a deep, deep hurt.
‘I do not condemn you’ ...well, he’s the only who’s entitled to really. ‘Go ..and leave your life of sin’. Quite stern when he said that ...but I won’t do it again. I’ve learned my lesson ...and somehow I feel it would be hurting him – and that’s the last thing I want to do!
 
Character 3 (Jesus)
Here they come again – what do they want this time? So much hate and anger and uptightness in them – I just wish they would let go of their religion and their morality and just come to the Father. What do they want with this girl? She looks scared and guilty.
So she’s been caught in the act of adultery and they want me to condemn her. Poor stupid girl. Doesn’t she know that sex without committed love is a dead end? Doesn’t she know that faithfulness is important because in being faithful we reflect the character of God? How sad that her marriage is so unhappy – I hope it can be rescued.
And look at this lot – self-righteous hypocrites. So wound up about keeping the law. Can’t they see that the law is meant to be a servant, not a master? Can’t they see that the Father is concerned about people, not rules, and that the rules are there to protect and help people? And their use of this girl to get at me is far nastier than anything that she has done. It smells of a trap, too – how else would they get the necessary witnesses? And where’s the fella? Gone off with his pieces of silver, I shouldn’t wonder. It makes me so angry I’d better write in this sand to compose myself.
‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’
Well, that didn’t take long – it’s a shame none of them stayed to say sorry. I’d like to hope that they’re going off to confess their sin in private – but I didn’t see that in their eyes – only hatred and rage.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not.
If only they would lower their pride and come to me in their weakness.
‘Woman, has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and leave your life of sin’.
She’s gone. I hope she will leave her life of sin and let us help her become that jewel the Father wants her to be.
I suppose that other lot will think I’m soft on sin. If only they knew! If only they knew how it tears me apart to see it all. If only they knew how much it will tear me apart when I bear the sins of the world – hers and theirs. Then they will see how much sin matters.
If only they knew how unpleasant their zeal for the law makes them. Good honest sinners are so much easier to deal with. She won’t take much sorting out. She’s looking to fill the emptiness of her heart – and if she keeps on seeking she will find. But they are going to be such hard work. If only they would let me close! How I wish I could break through all their barriers and show them how much I love them – even though I hate what they do and what they stand for. Perhaps the Cross will show much I love them – and how much I love people like her.