Our purpose is to begin regularly sharing this Glorious Gospel with more hearts! I will summarize and unpack the best I can what we encountered last Sunday through the Holy Spirit using Pastor Jerry Myhr to open up the Word to us! But if you want to go deeper check out the sermon online – on Facebook or our sermon podcast. And if you’re blessed, please share this with others!

“Holiness is the place where we are whole, thriving and have healthy relationships, interacting in a life-giving way.” Jerry Myhr

“Health is not just about ourselves but about being an transforming power to those around us.” Jerry Myhr

“Somewhere between what’s popular and what is controversial lies the truth.” Jerry Myhr

“Grace Anatomy” – Healing Encounters with a Compassionate Christ

This world can be an emotionally dangerous place. Some are injured by wounding relationships. Others get sick with bitterness and despair. Still others are crippled with chronic self-concern. In this series we venture into God’s “ER” to witness how Jesus brings hope and healing to the most hurting patients. Together we will discover God’s prescription to restore the human heart and how with surgical precision the grace of Jesus meets our deepest need. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Jesus (John 20:21)

Last Sunday Jerry preached on the passage at the end of John 8, often referred to as “The Woman Caught In Adultery.” It’s a popular passage but if you examine the history you will discover it was not included in the earliest manuscripts of the Bible. That means this very popular passage is also very controversial. So why is it even in our Bibles? Where is the reliability in a story with such apparently sketchy origins? Jerry offered us a “third way” of seeing this passage which brought much clarity and revelation.

First, it’s not an isolated text. We must consider it in the context of the whole. Does it fit? Is it consistent with the the overall pattern of the words of Scripture and more specifically the revelation of the Living Word? (Heb 1:1,2) We will see in a moment that indeed it is!

Second, it’s strength lies in its history as oral tradition. It comes through a medium trusted for millennia by the Jews and early church fathers. You can be sure that the Hebrew method of oral tradition was not like our modern understanding of “word of mouth.” Memorizing stories for the next generation was a “professional profession” and deeply embedded in their culture.

Third, it’s what Jesus would do and completely in line with His character given His other works and interactions: He is surprisingly on the side of cultural outcasts while stirring up the religious status-quo all the while offering a paradigm-shifting means of transformation! Jesus is known for compassion. Jesus is known for His atypical perspective on what people consider “holy.” Jesus is known for how He regularly honors women beyond the cultural norms. And He offers love, grace and compassion as the most powerful motivation for change and holiness.

And finally, in light of all the above, we need to consider why the church has consistently persisted in including this story of Jesus; apparently it has always resonated with the Body of Christ and most Christians today agree.

Now we’ll dive into the passage and discover its revelatory power…

Grace Under Fire

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’

The religious leaders are quintessentially judgmental. It’s their badge, their MO. Jesus intersects their judgment with His own demonstration of compassion through relationship. The Jewish leaders were completely out of touch with the Spirit of the Law and isolated the woman after “catching her in the act.” They had preyed on the most vulnerable while dismissing her partner (and perhaps perpetrator). To them the law had become simply a legal tool to judge others. They had abandoned its connection with relationship. Jesus stunningly brought them face to face with the intention, the truth of the law – that of wholeness and healing, what tradition has called “holiness.” Jesus revealed their distortion of God’s law and thus His very character. He had even taught them in the Sermon on the Mount that to lust was out of line with true love because at heart the law is relational: Relationship is what keeps you protecting others and respecting yourself. It says “You are more than an object and you deserve better than that; and I am better than that.” Relationship operating in grace is the most powerful deterrent to sin and evil.

“So Jesus bent down to write on the ground…”

Why did He do this and what did He write? Who knows, there’s a whole lot of conjecture. The one thing we observe is the novel way it stopped the escalation! For us, it’s a reminder to stop, breathe and ask questions in the middle of conflict!

Jesus knew that youth had more passion than experience and just as He expected, the oldest released their grip on the stones first. Humility says, “What should I be asking that I’m not wise enough to ask?” Are we old enough, wise enough to put down our rocks? Jesus said: “Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin” (John 8:11). In other words, be glorious, powerful and all that you were created to be!

How to Cultivate a “Condemn-free Zone”

In light of this story how can we avoid condemnation and create an atmosphere for transformation?

1. Do we know how to bend the rules for love? From the beginning, God wanted His people to use the law to get to know His love. Are we cultivating a legal code or are we cultivating love and relationship?

2. Are we letting God judge? When we judge we are assuming God’s perspective. Watch for the plank in our own eye that thinks we can see as clearly as God does. We may earn the responsibility to challenge each other for their benefit, but always in grace and compassion. John 7:24; James 2:8-11; 1 Corinthians 5:9-12; Matthew 7:1-5

3. Do we know how to set modest goals? Jesus was first of all trying to simply save this woman from dying! He then used radical compassion to motivate her toward true freedom. He further had the opportunity to reveal to the religious leaders the dead-end nature of their compassionless, relation-less law system. Jesus only helps the zealots apply their own Scriptures with greater compassion. When engaging in discussion with people who don’t follow Jesus, sometimes the modest goal is best. He applied their own law system to reveal to them a greater compassion on a completely new and higher plane! Start with the basics and go from there. Jesus did.

Who Was “Caught in the Act”?

Interestingly, this story is mistitled as “The Woman Caught in Adultery.” It could just as well be called, “How the Hypocritical Religious Leaders Are Taught to be Compassionate”!

While we can all identify at times with the woman caught in her shame, we also have to admit our minds are often in league with these religious zealots of the law. There’s hope for all in this story. He doesn’t condemn you while at the same time His compassion and grace have the power to enable you to thrive, to heal and to experience true whole-ness.

Jesus said TWO things:

 “I do not condemn you.”

“Go and sin no more.”

 

Which expression of grace do you need to hear more from Jesus these days?

 

“For this is how much God loved the world – he gave his one and only, begotten Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be it’s Savior and rescue it!” John 3:16-17

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Growth Group Questions:

Warm up…
Review Sunday’s message and notes. What most puzzles, bothers or inspires you?
When you imagine the story of adulterous woman, in what ways to you identify with,
a) her? b) the religious leaders?
Look to the Book…
On the topic of judging rightly or wrongly, read 1 Corinthians 5,
What verse or idea stands out to you.
Paul writes as though the sins of the Corinthian Christians are symptoms of a deeper problem. What seems to be the root issue?

Read Romans 3:8; 6:1,15; Jude 4
What does Paul recommend as treatment for the illness that has infected the body of Christ?
It seems as thought it is possible for Christians to become proud of our irreligious message to the point of distorting it, taking advantage of God’s grace and sinning as a sign of freedom.

So What?
J. Carl Laney writes: “It is sad but true that many people take more delight in investigating the faults of others than in scrutinizing their own attitude and conduct. The religious leaders epitomized this perversity, something we all need to guard against.” What people are you usually most ready to throw stones at?