Being Transformed By Grace

John 7:53-8:11
Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor
Michael Gunn on March 4th, 2007

Last week we saw that Jesus’ authority is not from mankind, but from His Father. He then went on to use yet one more metaphor for Himself. In Him is a river of life. He is a gushing river of life, that brings forth life eternal. His words, like they still do today, brought forth divisive debates as to who He was. Nothing has changed at all 2000 years later.

Based on the best evidence we have, our passage today most likely isn’t written by John, and may not be part of the original bible at all. This passage is not in any off the early manuscripts, and the early church hardly mentioned it. The eastern father’s did not even mention it until the 10th century, but it was a story however that fits in to the character and nature of Christ, and seems a lot like many of the other stories in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). In spite of its questionable origin, it is included because men like Jerome and Augustine did include it in their works, and the church has always been encouraged by the truth of the story, which is in congruence with what the bible teaches us about the nature and character of Jesus. Most commentators, though they don’t comment on it, are in agreement that this story probably happened, but that it is an add-on in this part of the bible.

The reason that many people struggle with the fact that this story may not even be canonical is because the story so defines how many people see Jesus. This is Jesus in His finest. He is the protector of the weak amongst the strong. It is interesting that this story involves sexual sin, and more specifically the sexual sin of a woman. The culture, and many in the church later saw women as the perpetrators of sensuality, and it was their fault men fell in to sexual lust. This highlights how we view sin. Sin is seen as external, and keeping evil away is all that it takes to be holy. Jesus not only stands against the power base that oppressively accuses this woman without accusing her lover, but He also presents us with the truth that our hearts are far worse than most of our actions.

From the Head…
This story isn’t about sexual sin. It’s about power and oppression. The Pharisees that brought the woman to Jesus only cared to trick Jesus, and give them more of a reason to kill him. They wanted to be legitimate in their executions since they were “law-abiding” citizens. It is interesting that their actions violated some of their own laws. First of all, if a person knew that another was about to commit a heinous sin like this, they were supposed to be compelled by love to try and stop them. Secondly, the law would have required that the man too be brought in front of Jesus. There is some speculation that he was used to set up the woman, and ultimately, Jesus. Thirdly, the witnesses, if they loved the woman would have brought her privately to Jesus, but they didn’t, because they actually did it to trap Jesus.

Jesus proceeds to write on the ground. No one knows of course what He wrote, but there are 2 verses that are assumed (Jeremiah 17:13 and Exodus 23:1-7). Jesus’ actions didn’t mean you had to be sinless before you acted, but according to law, you did have to be the first to cast the stone (Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:7), which would make anyone think long and hard about their decision. Although this type of stoning is still a reality in parts of the Middle East, there were no known such actions in first century Palestine.

Jesus isn’t condoning her actions, and actually tells her to go and stop sinning. The difference is that the religious leaders didn’t care at all for the woman. They only wanted to make their religious point. They self righteously condemned her, without seeing their own sins. Grace reconciles always. It cares little about rules, and desires to give life and healing, yet without compromising truth.

There are three key players in this story. The hero is the Grace giver, who is God Himself, the only true hero in the bible. The second player is the Grace Robbers (The religious leaders). These people care only for their own interpretations of law instead of the spirit of the law. They care more about enforcing law, and less about why the law is there in the first place. The last player is the Grace Receiver (The woman), who represents all of us who have experienced God’s love in our life.

When God grants grace, He asks the receiver to become the giver; “Go and leave your life of sin.” Go and live life differently, abundantly and leave your fears, for a different kind of life, with different kind of rules. A life of forgiveness, reconciliation and love!

…to the Heart
It is easy to create categories of sins, and make some worse than others. Sexual sins is that category that we often like to emphasize and judge greater than other sins like gossip, slander and pride, which can be easily justified, and less recognized, but often way more divisive and dangerous to the mission of Christ.

Jesus sees no such categories, and graciously grants this woman forgiveness, while encouraging her to go and stop sinning. This reflects the truth of grace in such a practical way. Grace doesn’t take sin lightly, but it does act in forgiveness for the sake of restoration of the relationships involved. Grace seeks life, where law seeks death.

It is when we recognize that we are sinful that grace really transforms our lives to follow Christ, and obey His will. When we are transformed by grace, we will live as gracious people in all of our relationships. We will seek less to be right, but more to be loving; less to be understood, and more to understand. We will be quick to forgive, and slow to anger and punishment.

3 comments so far

  1. Rachelle on

    Wow, what an awesome sermon. What strikes me as odd is that my husband and I were just discussing this friday. About a frind of mine that I had to speak to biblically in love. Some of us as Christians spend so much time judging and considering ourselves better than that sinner over there. We are all black inside. None of us are without sin.

    Pretty controversial statement about the communion though!! I agree that we are all on common ground if we are led by the holy spirit.
    Even the child molesters!
    Contoversial statements like that are what keeps me coming back!
    Thank you,

  2. sermonrant on

    Thanks! To HIm is the glory!

  3. Rachelle on


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