Astonishing Grace

Gospel of John #21: An exposition of John 8:1-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 10, 2011.

I couldn’t help myself.  Passion takes over and guys just can’t control themselves.  The impulse is just too strong.  Little boys throw rocks.  I knew it was wrong but it felt so good.  I had made a beautiful shot with the first one.  I picked up the second and said, “Watch this.”  Everyone was gone.  Suddenly I felt a tug on my right ear.  I can still hear her voice, “Young man you are going to find out what happens to little boys who throw rocks at school!”  I was caught.  My mind was racing, trying to find some excuse, some rationale but there was nothing.  I was caught.  The rock was in my hand.  I still remember the terror that came over me as I sat outside Mr. Layton’s office.  It was documented.  Mr. Layton had an electric paddle.  No one knew what it looked like.  I imagined some sort of harness and a table but I wasn’t sure.  Folklore around Robertson Elementary told of kids who went into that office and were never seen or heard from again.  But the greatest pain was the shame of being labeled, “Rock Thrower.”

Have you ever been caught?  I don’t mean that you were eventually “found out,” I mean caught in the act?  Caught.  The very word brings embarrassment and shame.  Shame is the inevitable result of being caught.  When dealing with your children when they have been caught doing something that you’ve told them not to do, you have to say, “Look at me.”  The last thing they want to do is look into the face of the one whose law they have just violated.  But let’s move beyond a child’s shame and consider what happens when we break the law of the sovereign God and we stand before him, having been “caught in the act.”  What happens then?  What happens when we as “caught sinners” stand before a holy, righteous, all knowing and all powerful God?  The answer may surprise you.  To answer the question, I want us to consider the message of John 8:1-11.  Here we find a story of failure, abuse, shame and grace.

Text: John 8:1-11

This is a “disputed” text.  You may well have a note in your Bible that says something like, “The earliest manuscripts do not include John 7:53-8:11.”  In biblical scholarship there are two types of criticisms directed toward the Scripture.  There is “higher criticism” which focuses on the content of the Bible and “lower criticism” which seeks to reconstruct the original text of Scripture as accurately as possible.  This text is disputed by they second form.  The earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John do not include this section.  Further some of the language and structure differs significantly from the rest of the book.  Early commentators do not refer to it.  However it has long been associated with John’s Gospel.  Further everything that happens in this text is consistent with what we know of Jesus and the surrounding circumstances.  Thus, while it may not be part of John’s original writing, I believe it is worth dealing with and granting it biblical authority.

In this text we find the drama of redemption.  We find sin, failure, wickedness, guilt and forgiveness.  The drama plays out in three acts.  I want us to look at each act and then draw a conclusion.

  • Act 1 – A monstrous, yet ingenious plan.  (8:1-6a)
  • Act 2 – A simple, yet profound response.  (8:6b-9)
  • Act 3 – An astonishingly gracious act.  (8:10-11)

What’s the point of all this?

Thesis: The simple truth of the Gospel is that God graciously offers forgiveness and life to helpless sinners caught in the act.

Place yourself in this story.
Are you like the crowd – witnesses of forgiveness but not partakers?
Are you like the religious leaders – sins who walked away never hearing the message of forgiveness?
Are you like the woman – a hopeless, helpless sinner touched by God’s astonishing grace?

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