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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Legalists Play "Gotcha" (John 8:1-11)

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery."

Legalists play "gotcha games" at the expense of others. Imagine being the woman caught in adultery by these Pharisees. They "made her stand before the group". They seemed thrilled to have caught her in the very act and probably presented her half-dressed before Jesus and the growing crowd. Wonder what happened to the man with whom she committed adultery?

The Pharisees caught this woman to catch Jesus. Pointing to the woman, the Pharisees asked, "Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. What do you say?"

Jesus' reply astonished them, "If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 
They, in their self-righteousness, lived in denial regarding personal sin and were quite willing to stone this woman. Jesus is the ONLY one without sin, yet He didn't throw a stone at her, nor did he condemn her.

Jesus didn't come to stone or condemn people; He came to redeem guilty sinners.
Unforgiven people are condemned already. All are in need of grace and redemption, including the Pharisees who are blind to their need. Legalists typically are unforgiving people who condemn others but are in need of the same grace and redemption offered by Jesus to guilty sinners.

Legalists (women may be Legalists as well), today, delight in stoning women, not literally, but with words and parameters that Jesus Himself doesn't use.

This narrative makes me think of the words from an old Don Francisco song:
He didn't come to terrify,
To judge or condescend
To call us all His servants
But to lift us as His friends
To save us all from Satan's power
To reign at his right hand
In the little town of Bethlehem,
When God became a man.

The fact that John's Gospel includes this narrative tells us something about God's value of women. The woman leaves the scene forgiven, cleansed, and changed while the religious men just leave--ashamed.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
John 7:53-9:34

  • Who leaves the scene first? What does this tell you about the zeal of youth and the wisdom of the aged?
  • When does Jesus speak to the woman? What does this tell you about Jesus' view of women?
  • Why do the Pharisees not believe Jesus' statement about His relationship with the Father?
  • What do the Pharisees cling to for their salvation?
  • Who does Jesus say are slaves and how are slaves freed?
  • How do the Pharisees deal with Jesus' confrontation and what does this tell you about people who refuse to believe the truth?
  • What do the Pharisees not understand about Abraham?
  • What prompts the blind man to wash the mud from his eyes?
  • What do the Pharisees think caused the blindness of this man?
  • What kind of changes will seeing demand of the formerly blind man?
  • Why are the Pharisees attacking the healed man?
  • What do the Pharisees care most about?
Turning truth into prayer
How do you treat fallen women and people whose lives seem hopeless? The Pharisees and Jesus differed in their treatment of others at every level. Ask the Lord to make you more aware of your attitude toward others. Love is a magnet while legalism and its accompanying condemnation repels and condemns.