Forgiveness or Throwing Stones

John 8:1-11 The Message (MSG)

8 1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

HOMILY

ILLUSTRATION A young boy lived in the country. His family had to use an outhouse, which the young boy hated. It was hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and always smelly.

The outhouse was located near the creek so the boy decided that he would push it into the water.

After a spring rain, the creek swelled so the boy pushed it in. Later that night his dad told him that he and the boy needed to make a trip to the woodshed.

The boy knew this meant punishment.

He asked his father why to which his dad replied,

“Because someone pushed the outhouse into the creek and I think that someone was you.      Was it?”

The boy responded that it was. Then he added,

“Remember when George Washington’s father asked him if he had chopped down the cherry tree?

He didn’t get into trouble because he told the truth.” “That is correct,” the dad said, “but his father was not in the cherry tree when he cut it down

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The opening words of the Declaration of Independence declare that they held

“these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” _____________ we in America have been blessed with many freedoms that other nations don’t have.

But even with that foundation for our country, there is one freedom that America cannot give it’s citizens.

In fact, no government on the face of the earth can supply the freedom that Jesus talked about in John 8. ILLUS:

Back in the 80’s Ann Landers wrote about her experience as a newspaper “answer lady.” People would write to her with their problems and ask advice on how to deal with their children, their spouses, their bosses, etc.
In her book, Landers explained that one of the most difficult things that people struggled with is guilt and shame. “I’ve received letters brimming with self-recrimination –

letters that prove no punishment is so painful as the self-inflicted kind. Here are a few examples:

‘I let my boyfriend go too far. Now, when he sees me, he looks the other way. I’m so ashamed of myself I could just die.’ ‘I threw a dish towel in my mother-in-law’s face. She was trying to be helpful and I lost my temper. I hate myself.’ ‘I got caught cheating in a history exam today. All the kids know about it. I feel rotten.’ (“The Ann Landers Encyclopedia A to Z”) No matter how many freedoms our nation gives us,                                it can not give us the freedom from the shame and guilt imposed upon us by our sins. Hazel Felleman wrote a poem about this: “I wish there were some wonderful place Called the Land of Beginning Again Where all our mistakes, and all our heartaches And all our selfish griefs Could be cast like a shabby old coat at the door And never be put on again” it is a reality that many Christians (even those who understand the promise Jesus gave that day) still struggle with guilt and shame. Something they believe God would never forgive them of. Or perhaps they’re struggling with a sin that they just can’t quite handle. They believe that they’ve gone over the edge – and they’ll never make it back into God’s graces For many Christians there is a nagging question:

“How could God ever forgive me? I’ve really messed up as a Christian. How could He ever forgive me? How could He ever forget what I’ve done?” Now, this type of thinking is based upon a very human concept There is a word that has become quite popular in our culture lately that describes it. That word is “Karma

Karma is the belief that you get what you deserve: If you’ve done good things, then you’ll be rewarded with good things

But if you’ve done bad things… you’re going to pay big time. Many world religions are based upon that fundamental idea.
Even the Bible teaches something like that. Galatians 6:7 says “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” In other words: You get what you deserve. However, there is one distinct difference between this concept of Karma and what Jesus taught. Other world religions teach that you can work off your “bad Karma”. They teach that you really can do enough good to outweigh the bad. ILLUS: (Karma is the teaching that life is scales.

If you do evil things your life goes out of balance.

So, you need to do good things to create a healthy balance.

The more bad things you do, the more good things you have to do to balance out the scale

Now, there are a couple of problems with this mindset.

1st – if you end up doing too many “bad” things in your life… you may never be able to balance out the scales.

Islam has particular problems with this because they actually place much of their hope in heaven upon how much good they can do.

They never know if they’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad. ____________

Hinduism and Buddhism cling heavily to this concept of Karma, and they have long realized that many people commit way too many bad deeds in their lives to be balanced out by good deeds in a single life time.

So they’ve developed the concept of going into “extra innings.”

Since one life time could never be enough for most people to make up for their bad Karma, they have to come back for another life… and another life… and another life… until they finally are able to pay off their evil and leave this world. The 2nd problem with this idea of Karma is that it never really “removes” any of the sin from a person’s life. Karma teaches that when you’ve put bad deeds on one side of the scale you have to put good ones on the other side. Loading the scales til they break
Because good does not replace the bad… Karma doesn’t work… because it cannot solve the pain of guilt and sh

ILLUS:

21st Century Philosopher – A man named Bono is the lead singer of a popular rock group U2 once made this observation: “At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma.

You know: what you put out comes back to you:

an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics-in physical laws-every action is met by an equal or an opposite one…

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . .

Love interrupts,

the consequences of your actions,

which in my case is very good news indeed,

because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”

God will forgive us our sins – not because we deserve it, or have done enough good to outweigh our sins. God will forgive us for only one reason:

GOD loves us God loves us so much God is willing to forgive us for all our past sins… don’t you think God is willing to continue to forgive us because of that same love?

When this woman who had been caught in adultery stayed around after the crowd dispersed, she probably still felt the guilt and shame of what she had done… and she probably thought she would receive punishment from Jesus… since she deserved it…

And LOVE INTERRUPTED the consequences of her actions…