In John 7:40-43 the Bible says, "Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the scripture said, That Christ comes of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of Him."
Some people believed in Jesus as the Messiah just because of the words that He said. They were so impressed by the words and touched by the words that came from the lips of Jesus, that they could do nothing but believe. Notice the situation of some of those who did not believe. We can see two major mistakes that were made by those who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. First they had a tradition that got in their way. There was a tradition and a saying that was well known in the Jewish society of that day, and it went like this: "Can a prophet arise out of Galilee?Ē or "can anything good come out of Galilee?" Galilee was considered the country, the backwoods, the unsophisticated: it was considered limited by its remoteness and tainted by its closer proximity to the Gentile nations. They forgot that what man does lightly esteem, God does sometimes highly esteem. There are certain benefits in being from the country: one of which is that you may have had less exposure to the corruption that is so often a part of the major areas of civilization. Unfortunately, we have less of the benefits of being from the country in our day and age because the abuses of the entertainment industry can now easily invade any household through electronic medium.
Another mistake of those who did not believe was the fact that they did not really gather enough evidence before they made their decision. They made certain assumptions about Jesus, and then made their decision based upon those assumptions. Itís no wonder that they made the wrong decision. They violated the concept that Jesus gave in John 7:24 when He said, "Judge not after the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Is it not possible for someone to have lived in a certain city for many years, but to not be from that city originally? Of course: it happens that way in our society all the time. Jesus was from Galilees but He was also from Bethlehem, because He was born in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem when Mary was pregnant in order to be properly registered for the Roman laws of taxation. The record of this is clearly documented for us in the Gospels, and the record of it would have been available in the first century for others to find out. It is surprising how many people have decided even in our society to not believe, when they have made so little investigation. One would think that when the issue is the eternal destiny of your immortal soul, that you would at least do careful investigation into the claims of Christ.
John 7:44-46 says, "And some of them would have taken Him, but no man laid hands on Him. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have you not brought Him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man." Itís significant to note that the reason that the officers did not arrest Jesus is because of the words that He said. They were so impressed, so amazed, so touched by the things that Jesus said, that they could not arrest such a person. What power did they have against such words? Thatís not surprising: Jesus not only spoke the Word of God, He was the Word of God.
A few months later Jesus would be arrested and brought before Pontius Pilate. What would so deeply impress Pilate would be the fact that Jesus would not speak when He was accused. Did not the prophesy say, "As a sheep before the sheerers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." Perhaps one of the reasons that Jesus did not speak at his unjust trial, was because had He spoken the same thing would have happened again: His accusers would have been amazed and paralyzed at His words and He would have gone free. But He came to die, so He did not speak in His defense. But He did speak here at the feast of Tabernacles, and the officers who heard Him said, "Never man spake as this man."
John 7:47-53 says, "Then answered them the Pharisees, Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knows not the law are cursed. Nicodemus said unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Does our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he is doing? They answered and said to him, Are you also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee arises no prophet. And every man went unto his own house."
Nicodemus was one of the rulers of the Jews. When we say that the rulers of the Jews were opposed to Jesus, we mean that most of them were opposed to Jesus. There are exceptions to most things, and the deception and dishonesty of the Jewish leaders also had an exception in the person of Nicodemus. The faults and failures of the Jewish leaders in their opposition to Jesus was not because they were Jews, but because they were leaders. Power corrupts. We see the same kinds of faults in some of our political and business leaders today. Whenever leaders are biased out of the spirit of competition, and whenever they prejudge certain matters just because of their desire to beat up on their opponents; they will be the same kind of people and they will make the same kinds of mistakes that most of the Jewish leaders made. They did not care about the truth of the matter, nor did they want to hear all of the evidence in a fair-minded way. To crush the opposition, and for them the opposition was Jesus, was more important than doing the right thing. What they forgot was that the ultimate result of being unjust is to reap the fruits of injustice, and they ultimately lost their nation anyway. When all is said and done, you will never win by doing wrong. There is nothing worse than a Republican who is biased against all democrats just because they are democrats, and there is nothing worse than a Democrat who is biased against all Republicans just because they are republicans. Both are just like the unjust Jewish leaders. What we need are fair-minded people, whether democrat or republican: they will make the best leaders.
John 8:1-2 says, "Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them." Most of the rest of the events in the life of Jesus take place in and around Jerusalem. He came into the world to die for us, and He came to Jerusalem to prepare for His death, because He was going to be put to death in Jerusalem. But until He died, He did what He had always done and that was to teach. If you have learned something that is true, then you should not keep it to yourself. Be like Jesus and tell others. After Peter had learned from Jesus, Jesus said to Him, "If you love me, feed my sheep." Of course, Jesus made it clear where we are to teach when He said to His followers, "Go into all the world." Everywhere is the right place to teach. Wherever you are at, is where you should teach, because if you are alive then you are somewhere in the world, and your part of the world is part of the place where Jesus said to teach the good news. Thatís what Jesus did. When He was in Galilee, he taught. And then when He came to Jerusalem, He still taught. He didnít stop teaching because there was more opposition. If you are a teacher, then you are a teacher wherever you go or wherever you are at.
Jesus was accessible. His opponents took advantage of this, and used the occasions that they could to try and make Him look bad. But they always failed. Can man oppose God and win? This story of the woman taken in adultery here in John Chapter 8 has several wonderful lessons about life that every generation can learn from: another example of the power of God to take everything and make something good out of it.
John 8:3-11 says, "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They said unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do you say? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? has no man condemned thee? She said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
Much of the ugliness of human nature is seen in the scribes and Pharisees in bringing this woman to Jesus. They certainly did not care about the woman. They did not mind embarrassing or shaming her in public. Those who would embarrass and shame a sinner because of the sins are more like the devil than they are like God. The word "devil" means ďaccuser". Nor did they mind if she died from stoning as long as it gave them a chance to accuse Jesus. Their own hypocrisy is what Jesus would expose. It was very much a male dominated society. They brought the woman who was taken in adultery, but not the man.
The scribes and Pharisees did everything that they could to put Jesus into a spot that they hoped He could not get out of. They brought a woman who was taken in the very act, so there would be eyewitnesses and no chance of anyone saying that she was falsely accused. They also brought up one of the main issues that Jesus was criticized about constantly: that He violated the law of Moses. It was very clear that the law of Moses said that a person taken in adultery should be stoned to death. Also by now, they knew what kind of person that Jesus was: that He had not come to take life, but to give it. They knew that the character of Jesus was to have compassion on sinners and to offer forgiveness. They were sure that in this situation that they would be able to make Jesus fail to keep the law of Moses. But as always, Jesus turned the tables, and when the incident was over the scribes and Pharisees looked bad for the hypocrites that they were; and Jesus had used the incident to teach an important lesson about forgiveness, and about a new way of looking at the law: a new way and a better way that Jesus brought. "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Itís one thing to say that you wish to obey the law, but itís quite another thing to do it. The scribes and Pharisees did not really want to obey the law: they wanted to use it for their own purposes. When they stood before Jesus and said that Moses commanded that such be put to death, the Bible says that Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground. It is left to our own imagination what He wrote. Perhaps He wrote the actual commandment from the Old Testament. If you look at Leviticus Chapter 20 and verse 10, or Deuteronomy 22:22, you will find that the commandment does not say to put the woman to death: it says to put both the man and the woman to death. So by only bringing the woman, they were failing to accurately or fairly enforce the law. Maybe Jesus wrote Deut. 22:22 in the dust of the ground. Or maybe Jesus wrote one of the sayings that we love so much from His many teachings: maybe He wrote, "Judge not, that you be not judged," or "the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Or maybe Jesus wrote on the ground that which He subsequently said to the men, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Of course, there is no one who is without sin. The problem with the law is that it requires total and complete obedience, or else you are a violator of the law, a sinner. If the goal is to do what the law says, and if you have not kept the whole law, then you have missed the mark. You may not have committed the same sin that someone else has committed, but you have failed to keep the whole law just like they have failed to keep the whole law; and you are therefore just as guilty as they are.
Jesus asked the woman, "Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?" Some human may have judged you and condemned you in this life, but when you stand before the Lord, you will only have to answer to Him. If you stand before Him having your hope in the law, then you will have no hope and you will stand condemned; but if you stand before Him having your hope in the grace and mercy of Jesus, then He will say to you the same thing that He said to this woman: "Neither do I condemn you." Itís a priceless and valuable possession to have the complete forgiveness that only Jesus can give.
When Jesus said to the woman, "Neither do I condemn you," He also said, "Go and sin no more." Attached to the forgiveness is the requirement that the person make it their goal and their purpose to not sin again. Repentance and forgiveness are always closely associated. If you repent, you can know the mercy of God.
Notice the difference between the law and the teachings of Jesus. Both said, "Do not commit adultery." But the law says that if you fail, you die. In contrast to that, Jesus gives the opportunity for forgiveness. There is a difference between the law of God and itís righteous demands for punishment, and the grace of God. Which do you prefer: the law or the grace of God thatís in Christ Jesus?
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved