Skip Heitzig - John 7:37-8:11
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Now Father, once again, we want to commit the hearing of our ears to the speaking of Your word. For we remember our Lord Jesus said, "whoever has ears to hear, let him hear," implying that not everybody who has words going into their head is actually focused on them or paying attention to them. But we pray we would, and in so doing, more than just understanding the meaning of what the language is, we'd understand the meaning of what Your spirit has for us and how truth can transform the way we look at life, the way we live our lives, the way we treat other people. Change our perspective, Lord. May our perspective, our life, be like what words we just sang. Those wonderful words of we trust you and we love you and You're our Father and we're set free. I pray all of that would become our own reality. Thank you for the privilege, Lord, of living in a country where we can carry and open a Bible and read it freely and discuss truth and live it out in Jesus's name, Amen.
There was a man who was stranded in the Sahara Desert, and he was dying of thirst. Absolutely parched and not knowing what he was going to do, he was fortunate when a man riding a camel came close to him. At which point, the man cried out. And he said, water. Please, can I have some water? And the man on the camel said, well, I'm sorry, I don't have any water, but I would sell you a necktie. And the dying man said, a necktie? I'm in the desert dying of thirst. I need water.
And that man on the camel said, well, they're only $4. The guy dying of thirst said I don't have $4, and I wouldn't buy one anyway. I really need water. The man on the camel said, I'll tell you what, I'll sell you two neckties for $7. Well, the guy was too weary to argue. And so the man on the camel passed by. Pulling all of his energy together, the man continued on his journey. And he spotted, in the distance, a beautiful oasis with an incredible-looking restaurant perched among the palm trees. He crawled over to the restaurant and found the head waiter and he said, I really am dying of thirst. I need water. And the head waiter said, I'm sorry, to be admitted you need a necktie.
Now, that absurd little story that I just told is an introduction to what we're about to read. Because I find that that little story gets repeated in real life. You have the ability to have your thirst quenched, but there are people standing around talking about neckties. And here we have a story of Jesus who gives one of the most incredible invitations to anyone who would believe in him. They would be satisfied. The deepest thirst of their lives would be quenched. But there's that group of people that want to argue about neckties.
So it's like they're standing next to an artesian well, but they're dying of thirst. Now, in chapter 7 where we left off last time, it's a long chapter, as I said last week. It is the Feast of Tabernacles. The setting is Jerusalem. Jesus has gone up to the Feast of Tabernacles in the middle of that eight-day festival that week. According to Flavius Josephus, the Feast of Tabernacles was one of the most joyous feasts of the year.
Joyous because of the way it was celebrated, the building of booths with these thatched branches of trees that the families would then live in for a whole week looking up at the stars, and imagining what life was like for their forefathers as they would march through the desert and trust God to take care of them. They would celebrate that. It was really a fun way to do church. Church was fun during the Festival of Tabernacles. The kids loved it. Stories were abundant in that town and at that feast.
People from all over Israel came to Jerusalem because it was one of the three required festivals that males, especially within a certain distance of the city, would go up and celebrate. They were commanded to do so. But typically, if they could, they would bring their whole family. So the city was filled with people. There were actually tens of thousands of people that gathered in the temple area.
Now, why is the Feast of Tabernacles important to us? Well, historically it's important to us and prophetically it's important to us. One of the reasons I love the Feast of Tabernacles historically is because I love the eighth chapter of Nehemiah. When they came back into the land and it says they constructed a podium sort of like this out of wood, and Ezra stood to read from the law of God. It says that he opened the book and read from the book in the law of the Lord. He read it distinctly. And then he gave the sense of it, he told the meaning of it. Much like our Wednesday night Bible study.
And the people stood for hours listening to the law expounded. The very next day, it says, in the reading of the law, they discovered it was the Feast of Tabernacles. And so they went out, and they took those branches. And they made those booths, and they decided they needed to keep it because the word of God said to keep it. And I love it because you have people who decide, in the hearing of the word of God, to do what they read. Immediately putting it into practice. That's historical.
Prophetically, it's important. And you need to remember this. Even if you don't remember it, you're going to do this. So let's say you have amnesia. I'm OK with that. Because in the future, do you know that according to the Book of Zechariah chapter 14, you in the millennial kingdom, the thousand year reign of Christ on earth, you will go up to Jerusalem, the nations of the world, their representatives will go up to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. So if it makes no difference to you historically, it will prophetically one day because it says in that passage that the nations of the world will celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles every year in Jerusalem during Christ's millennial kingdom.
Let's say that you and I were in the temple right now. What would we see if it were the Feast of Tabernacles? Well, you would see thousands of people with something in their left hand and something in their right hand. In their left hand they would have citrus fruit. Yummy. What did that speak of? It spoke of the land in which they live. The promised land was filled with provision.
In their right hand were branches. Why branches? Well, they were told to take branches to build booths. So the branches were emblematic of the different stages in the wilderness. And they would hold those branches up in the temple along with the fruit, thanking God for the provision. But something interesting happened every day during the Feast of Tabernacles.
During that eight-day week, that elongated week, the first day and the last day were Sabbath days, but the eighth day was the grand finale. And this is what happened. Every day, as far as we can tell, according to Jewish history, every day during the feast, a priest would take a golden pitcher. He would walk down from the Temple Mount down into the old city of Jerusalem, the city of David. I wish all of us had been to Israel because when you go, you realize how steep that walk is, not only going down but especially coming back up.
So the priest, followed by lots of people, would go down to the Pool of Siloam at the base of that city of David, fill the pitcher with water, walk back up, and pour the water on the base of the altar. And there would be three blasts of the trumpet, the shofar. And after the third blast of the shofar, you know sho-far, so good, the people would cry out a text of Scripture, Isaiah chapter 12 verse 3. Now listen to this Scripture. It says, from Isaiah 12:3, "with joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation." With joy you will draw waters from the well of salvation.
They'd do that every single day. On the last day of the feast, the grand finale, the priest would go down, would come back up, he'd have that golden pitcher filled with water. But before the blasts of the shofar, and before the people would shout out that anthem from Isaiah chapter 12, the priest, along with many of the people, would walk around the altar of sacrifice six times, and then a seventh time.
What was that a symbol of? Seven times around? The Battle of Jericho. Why the Battle of Jericho? Because that's what ended the wilderness march. When they crossed the Jordan and they marched around the city, signifying this is the first town we're going to take in this country. It's going to be ours. It's the inheritance of God. That ended their wilderness journeys.
So they would march around the temple. So it's raising to a grand finale. The people march around the altar seven times. Then, the priest would come up, and there would be a hush over the crowd as he would pour the water. Because after he would pour the water in silence, the people would cry out, with joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation. I give you that background because you need to know it to really understand the impact of the next few verses.
In verse 37, "on the last day that great day of the feast", that grand finale, "Jesus stood and cried out saying, "if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified." I want you to picture the scene once again. The crowd marches around the altar, the priest goes up to the altar, he pours the water, the crowd falls silent. And before they can even shout out, I believe, though we're not told precisely, but Jesus cried out "krazo," the cry of a raven, the shout to grab people's attention.
And He said, "if anyone is thirsty, let him come in to me and drink." You know that all those thousands of heads went, whoosh, look at who said that, who cried out that, who is it that is speaking that promise getting our attention? And it was Jesus. It was Yeshua. Before the people could say, with joy you will draw waters from the well of salvation, Jesus said, "if anyone thirsts. Let him come to me and drink. And he who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
A couple of things get my attention. First of all, here is Jesus among thousands of people. He doesn't have the advantage that I have. I have a microphone and a PA system. He has to have a pretty loud voice with a pretty substantive cry to get thousands of people's attention to make this claim, this promise. And that's striking to me because if any of you grew up like I did seeing the pictures of Jesus, you know the picture of Jesus with that long drawn face.
The anemic-looking Jesus who needs a little sun and a good meal, frankly. Because the holy cards that I saw just made him look sickly. I see a very different kind of Jesus here. A very commanding presence, a man's man. Making a claim in front of the leaders, in front of the priests, in the temple courts. Commanding the attention of everyone, making a bold proclamation like this. The other thing that grabs my attention is what he was saying.
He's saying, here you are talking about your forefathers who had their physical thirst quenched in the desert, temporarily, their physical thirst was quenched. That's wonderful because God provided for them. But here you are standing next to a waterfall talking about neckties. Many of those leaders talking just about the form and are we doing it right and all of the little nit-picky things about their law. When here is Jesus, their Messiah presenting himself with an incredible invitation, saying, "if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink."
Now, notice that promise, there's three stages, if anyone thirsts. We always begin with that. You have to begin with that. You won't drink unless you go, I'm thirsty. You have to acknowledge that you have a need before you'll seek to alleviate that need. People don't come to Christ because they don't believe they need to. I'm not thirsty. I'm good. So you have to make an acknowledgment that you have a need that has to be fulfilled beyond what you can do for yourself. So that's always the first stage, the thirsty stage. I'm thirsty.
Then, you have to do something about your thirst that takes you to the second state. If anyone thirsts, let him come, come. You have to make a decision of your will to cooperate with the invitation of God. And so you come. I remember the night I came. The afternoon I saw that Billy Graham Special on television. I decided, I'm thirsty. I'm coming. I'm going to do something about my thirst. I'm not going to run around every day complaining, life isn't good. Life's a bummer. I'm just always thirsty all the time. Take a drink. So I came.
Now, if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. That's the third step. The drinking speaks of the appropriation of Jesus Christ by faith. You take him to be your Savior. You admit that you have a need, you come to the fountain, but you actually have to stoop down and bring the water up. You have to drink it. How many people come to church every week, I'm at the fountain. I like the fountain. I don't like the fountain this week. I like the fountain maybe two weeks ago. It's all about the fountain, you got to drink from the fountain.
And I'll never forget, for me that afternoon I said a simple prayer. There was nobody there. There was no pastor. It wasn't a church service. But I finally said, I'm giving up. And I did not see a bright light. I did not have the heavens shake. I didn't hear an audible voice. But I felt like a huge burden had been lifted. A huge weight was gone. I was refreshed. I drank. It's like, yum. Man, that tastes good. It's great to know that you have a need, but it's great to know that you can come somewhere to get the need met. But then, it's much better when you actually take a drink. And that's the promise.
And notice how universal that is, if anyone, if anyone, if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. I just want you to think about you and about others that you know. Anyone means anyone. There is no qualification as to education or social status or background or ethnicity. Anyone, Jew, gentile, anyone. Male, female, anyone. Tall, short, anyone. Rich, poor, anyone. Educated, not educated, anyone.
"For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." An incredible promise. And when you break it apart like this, you get the richness of it. He continues the promise, the invitation, "he who believes in me", speaking of that last part of verse 37, he's come and he's had a drink. "He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
There's a few different kinds of faith. Now, listen carefully, how many people do you know say, I believe. I'm a believer. I'm a spiritual person. I believe in God. That's a good start. I ask them to define "God." And define "believe." Define "believer." Tell me what meaning you are pouring into the words that you and I are using together. Because you and I may have different meanings for the same words.
See there's different kinds of faith. There is, number one, a false faith. It's not real. You say, false faith? What's a false faith? Well, doesn't the Bible say even the devil believes and trembles? Remember, the Book of James. You say you have faith, you do, well, but even the devil believes. The devil believes in God. Is the devil going to heaven? Uh, not last time I checked. Doesn't sound like heaven if he's there. No, he's not saved. He believes, but that's a false faith. It wasn't a faith that changed him. He rebelled against Him. He rebelled against God. So there is a false faith.
Then, there is a firm faith. This is true faith. This is what Jesus refers to, if somebody believes in me. They've come to the fountain, they've had a drink. That's firm faith. That's real. That's life changing. But I submit to you based on this promise and other Scriptures, there's a third level. And that is flowing faith. Look at the promise. "He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." You see? Herein lies the problem with many believers.
For many people, it's about them being satisfied, not how God can flow through me to satisfy others. It's just, no, it's all about me. I want to be happy. I want to be fulfilled. I want to be satisfied. Well, notice Jesus didn't say that you are to be a reservoir or a lake, but a fountain, a river. You and I are to convey what we have received in terms of satisfaction to others. You say, how can we do that? I can't save another person? Jesus saved me. I tasted from the fountain. I can't provide that for others.
Well, yes and no. You can't save them, but you can make them thirsty. You can, by your lifestyle, make this whole Jesus thing pretty attractive to people. So you've got to ask, what is it about your life that makes people attracted to Jesus? Are they attracted to Jesus or would they be repelled? Going, Jesus did that to you? Man, I'm so sorry. Remind me never to follow that guy. Or Jesus did that to you and for you? Where can I get me some of that stuff?
You see, the joy is being the conduit. He's flowed to you. Does He flow through you? In fact, I submit to you that the highest source, the highest place of satisfaction for a believer is when they become a conduit. When it doesn't stop with them. When it flows not only to them, but now through them to others. When they're about taking the Father's business out to their friends, their families, sharing the gospel with others, and letting others who are thirsty know about the fountain. When your life becomes a conduit rather than a reservoir, it's the highest place of satisfaction. To know God used you today for His glory, for His purpose. Nothing is better.
So I hope you don't have a false faith. You, who trust in Jesus, I know that you have a firm faith. The question is, do you have a flowing faith? You come to Him and you're saved and you're satisfied, but follow that through. Be saved, satisfied, and now sent. Do something about that satisfaction. Be a conduit. "He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water", and so that you know that you're not the source, the next verse qualifies that. John says, "but this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified."
Now, we're going to get a further understanding and qualification of the meaning of that when we get to chapter 14 and 15 and 16, when Jesus speaks to His disciples about the coming Holy Spirit. But here's something that has helped me in understanding the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. In John 14, Jesus used two prepositions that described the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the life of the believer. Now, a preposition is a word that shows you the function of a noun or pronoun or an adjective. So there are prepositions...
That there's a lot of confusion about Jesus. There always has been. There still is. People have different opinions about Him. Now, they said, isn't this the Prophet? What are they speaking of? They're speaking of Deuteronomy chapter 18. God said that He would send a prophet from among the people, like Moses, in the future. Rabbis have believed for generations that's a prediction of the coming deliverer Messiah. However, by the time of Jesus, there was a division as to what the promised prophet would be. Is he going to be the Christ or is he going to be a prophet separate from the Christ? Is he going to be the forerunner of the Christ, like John the Baptist?
So there's a division as to who Christ is. And there's a division as to who the prophet would be. And is Jesus the prophet? Is He the Christ? They're one and the same, but not everybody got that. They're saying, He came from Galilee, and He's supposed to be born in Bethlehem, which he was, but they didn't know. So you just get the whole, everybody's confused about Him. That's the point John wants you to know.
"So was a division among the people because of Him. Now, some of them wanted to take Him", that is to arrest Him, "But no one laid hands on Him. Then, the officers came to the chief priests and the Pharisees who said to them, why have you not brought Him? The officers answered, no man ever spoke like this man. And then the Pharisees answered and said, are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed in Him?"
Now, I love this. Because we get the picture that these scribes, these Pharisees, sent a group to arrest Jesus. And when they come back, they said, well, where is he? Didn't you arrest him? And they went, wow, nobody ever spoke like that.
It's like they were completely awestruck by what they heard, which is ironic and interesting. They were sent to arrest Jesus for the words that He spoke. But they ended up being arrested by the words that He spoke. They just stopped dead in their tracks, awestruck. Wow. They probably walked back and said, that was a great sermon.
And then they come back and they said, well, where is he? You were sent to bring him. Oh, man, that guy can talk. They went and were sent to arrest him, but they were arrested by the words themselves. And the Pharisees, they come unglued. You can see how loving they are in verse 47, "are you also deceived?" And listen to what they say. "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?" Now, this is the old argument of personal authority.
You tell people that you're a Christian and they go, oh. Are there any PhDs that believe that? Are there any like smart people that believe something that lame and dumb as you? See the idea is do any of the religious leaders, the authorities, people like us, people who aren't easily deceived, do any of them, so I'm saying that because don't buy into this argument from personal authority. There are plenty of smart people who believe in Jesus. And there were plenty of Jewish people back then, even some of the rulers, in process was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, Sanhedrin members who would become believers in Jesus Christ by the time He was crucified.
Verse 49, they continue their rant, "but this crowd that does not know the law is accursed." Now, they couldn't be more wrong because some of those in the crowd, it said, believed in Jesus. So some of those in the crowd that they said were cursed, actually had everlasting life. But the ironic thing is they themselves were cursed. The ones who said they're cursed, they were the ones who were accursed because they refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ.
"Nicodemus, he who came to Jesus by night", that's back in John 3, "being one of them said to them, does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing? They answered, and said to him are you also from Galilee?" Now, I know that doesn't make sense to some of you. Because when he says, doesn't our law give people a fair hearing, the response doesn't seem to make sense. Are you from Galilee? What does that have to do with what I just said. It has nothing to do with it. It's called an "ad hominem attack," a personal attack.
It's like, you just said something I don't like, let me think of something really annoying to say back at you and accuse you of being something that you're just going to hate if I say it. That's the idea. Are you also from Galilee? The people in Jerusalem in Judea hated the Galileans. They thought there were a bunch of hicks.
Now I could give you an example of somebody from the West saying something about somebody from different parts of the United States, and I've done this in the past to show the equivalent, but it always gets me in trouble. We all have those people in our minds, we do. But if you say it, you get in trouble, so I'm not going to say it.
They were unsophisticated, from the backwoods, uneducated, they didn't know the nuances of the law of Moses. Those were Galileans. And notice what they said, "are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee." Now, they prided themselves in being so smart. We know the law. These Galileans, they don't know the law. Search and see has any prophet come out of Galilee? Actually, they're idiots because their own Bible talks about prophets that come from Galilee.
There was one guy by the name of Jonah. The son of Amittai, Jonah chapter 1. Second Kings 14 tells us that Jonah was from Gath-hepher. Gath-hepher is five miles away from Nazareth in the region of Galilee. That's one prophet that we know from Scripture. Some even believe the Prophet Nahum was from Galilee. And that the original name of the city of Capernaum was called "Elcosh." Nahum was an Elcoshite, and they believe that the name Elcosh at Galilee was later changed to Capernaum. By the way, Capernaum means the town of Nahum.
So it is believed that at least one, maybe two, maybe even three prophets from the Old Testament were from Galilee. But these guys search and see, is there any prophet that comes out of Galilee? Uh-huh. Few of them. What they overlooked, of course, is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in the City of David according to the prediction made in the Old Testament. Then he moved to Nazareth where he grew up to escape Herod the Great and the foray down in Jerusalem. But they overlooked that. They didn't do enough research. It would have been an easy thing to ask and to find out.
The last verse of the chapter, "and everyone went to his own house." Now, sometimes, to me, chapter breaks are unfortunate in the Bible, the way they're broken up, they're not inspired, they were written years later by one in particular. But this is one of those unfortunate things because verse 53 and chapter 8 verse 1 go together. Because notice chapter 8 begins with the word "but." And my English teacher said never begin a story with that word because that word belongs with another thought. So notice verse 53 and chapter 8 verse 1, they belong together. "And everyone went to his own house. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives."
Let me uncover that with you. The Mount of Olives is right next to the city of Jerusalem. Some of you have been with us to Israel. The Mount of Olives is just to the East. We always take groups of people there because it's the best view of the city. It's a commanding view. It's raised up a little bit. You can look down on the Temple Mount and the whole city is spread out in front of you. Just below you is the Kidron Valley. And you can look to the right, if you're standing on the Mount of Olives, and you'll see the Garden of Gethsemane right there and the olive groves. And you look up and it rises from the Kidron. It goes up to that beautiful area called the Temple Mount and you see the Walls of Jerusalem.
It was an important place to Jesus. Jesus taught on the Mount of Olives. We call it the "Olivet Discourse." Matthew, chapter 24, was taught on the Mount of Olives. It was where Jesus would travel to pray on the Mount of Olives in that little garden at the foot of it called "the Garden of Gethsemane. So Jesus taught on the Mount of Olives. He prayed on the Mount of Olives. He was also betrayed on the Mount of Olives. Judas Iscariot went to where the priests had their headquarters outside of Jerusalem, which was located on that southern end of the Mount of Olives.
So Jesus taught on the Mount of Olives. He prayed on the Mount of Olives. He was betrayed on the Mount of Olives. Another thing about it is Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. It says in Acts chapter 1 that the disciples were on the Mount of Olives with Jesus and all of a sudden he just started floating up, went to the right hand of the Father.
So Jesus taught on the Mount of Olives, prayed on the Mount of Olives, was betrayed on the Mount of Olives, and ascended from the Mount of Olives. Oh, and there's another thing. When He comes back, He's going to return to the Mount of Olives. So it's a pretty important place. Zechariah said His feet will touch and the Mount of Olives will split into two sections creating a large valley. So Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, everybody went to their own home, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Where did He go on the Mount of Olives? Well, we're not told. Number one, He just camped out. Garden of Gethsemane is a pretty nice place. Some of you guys, we go to Jerusalem, and I sneak off with a few people. And we jump the wall in the Garden if Gethsemane, and we pray there at night and get that beautiful view. I just confessed my sin. A sin I repeatedly commit when I go there. But it's just a great spot.
So He just camped out on the Mount of Olives. Or He went to the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, who lived in Bethany, which is on the Mount of Olives. It's a town right on the other side of the Mount of Olives. It's a little village. So one of those two. He either camped out, but He probably went to stay with them like He often did when He was at a feast. Now, the reason these verses are put here is to show you the humility of Christ. Everybody went to his own home, Jesus didn't have his own home.
He said to a would-be follower, I'll follow you wherever you want to go. Jesus said, foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. You want to follow me? I don't have an apartment, don't have a condo, don't have a nice house overlooking the city of Jerusalem. I'm camping out, or I'm staying with friends.
So they went home. Jesus did not. He did not have a home. He was born in a feeding trough. He never owned His own home. When He died, He wasn't put in a family tomb. He was put in a borrowed tomb, which is good because He only needed it for the weekend, because He rose from the dead.
But all of this is placed here to show you, again, to reinforce the humility of the Creator of the universe who humbled Himself as God in human flesh. Everybody went to his own home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. "Now early in the morning He came again into the temple. And all the people came to Him. And He sat down, and He taught them." Now, I know everybody loves certain verses of the Bible, but there's just some passages that are special to me. And this is one of those verses. Because I love the idea of getting up early in the morning and meeting somewhere with Jesus. And I just see that here.
Jesus came again to the temple, again to teach people, and anybody who wanted to show up early where he was would take advantage of that meeting. I hope you do that. I hope you meet with Him regularly. You open His word. You pray to Him. You talk to Him. And you learn from Him. But here's a beautiful example.
Now, it says that Jesus sat and He taught. What am I doing right now? I'm sitting. In Judaism, in the scriptural setting, a teacher always sat. An evangel, a proclaimer, a preacher, somebody who would proclaim a message from a King would stand, but a teacher sat. And we find Jesus often sitting down and teaching people. Now, the only thing that's different about the setting is that the disciples of the Talmadine would stand while the teacher sat. We don't make you do that. We give you nice, comfortable chairs with bibles if you didn't bring one, et cetera.
But that was the setting. Jesus came and we know where He is. Whereas before, He was probably in Solomon's porch, not the coffee shop, but the colonnade in the Temple Mount in the previous chapter. When He comes back the next day, He's not in Solomon's portico or the royal portico, but He's in the court of the women. He's a little bit closer in.
Why do we say that? Because when we get to verse 20, it will identify that Jesus said these words in the treasury and the treasury was located in the court of the women. So He's come to a different place in the temple in the morning, early in the morning. And for those who come early, they would meet with Him there.
"Then the scribes and the Pharisees", and you would find a lot of the scribes and the Pharisees in the court of the women because if you want to go to the court of the men or the court of the priests, you have to go through the court of the women. So it would attract the attention, the ire of the leadership. "The scribes and the Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they set her in the midst, they said to Him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.'" I'm giving a little drama to it because I think they did.
"'Now, Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned, but what do you say?' This, they said, testing Him. That they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised himself up. And He said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.' And again He stooped down and he wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one-by-one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, 'woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?' And she said, 'no one, Lord.' And Jesus said to her 'neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.'"
To the Jewish leaders, the three biggest sins, if you were to categorize them, I say that because I grew up categorizing them, well, we had mortal sins and we had been venial sins. As if to say, you know these are like misdemeanors and these are like felonies. Yeah, you can get by with these, but these are really bad. So they kind of had this category of murder, idolatry, and adultery as like the three worst of all the sins you could commit. All the commandments you could break, those were the three biggies.
Adultery was especially abhorrent to them for obvious reasons. Adultery would break up a relationship, which would destroy the fabric of a family, which would destroy, in turn, the fabric of society. The more adultery and the more divorce you have, the very fabric of a culture is decimated, is destroyed by it.
So they took it very seriously. So much so that God commanded capital punishment in the Old Testament. Leviticus and Deuteronomy, death by stoning. I have to watch my language because I don't want to say they got stoned because it means something different today. So it was death by stoning.
In fact, the Mishnah, have you heard of the Mishnah? A commentary on the oral law of the Jews? The Mishnah stipulated that strangulation, death by strangulation, was something permitted and encouraged for adultery. I don't know why that is. I haven't done enough research. All I can say is, I mean, from a man or woman's perspective, if your spouse is cheating on you with another person, you'd feel like strangling them. I mean, that guy's coming after your wife. You kind of feel like you want to do that. So for whatever reason, that was part of the commentary in the oral law. It was a big deal.
But listen, they don't care about the commandment. What they care about is they want to trap Jesus. They want to trap Him. Why is this a trap? Because no matter how Jesus answers it, they got Him. That's what they think. Master of the law says she ought to be stoned. If He says, yeah, kill her, stone her. Well, He's going to lose His reputation of being the friend of sinners. Jesus said, come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest. He didn't say, I'll stone you. So He has this reputation that He loves people. He's the friend of sinners.
But if he were to say, no, don't stone her, then He would be accused of breaking Jewish law. If He says, stone her, since the Romans have the right of capital punishment and not the Jews at that time, He would be breaking Roman law. So He's either going to be breaking Roman law and lose the reputation of being a friend of sinners. Or He's breaking Jewish law. They've got Him trapped.
But Jesus just starts writing on the ground, writing on the ground. Now, here's what's wrong with their issues. The first problem, though the law says somebody's ought to be stoned, they hadn't practiced this for over 1,000 years. In real-life practice, they didn't do it. At that time, I mentioned the Romans took away capital punishment. They couldn't do it.
Number two, the most obvious problem, is the law said you shall stone both the adulterer and the adulteress. Where's the adulterer? They brought the adulteress. Where's the dude? If she was caught in the very act, the very act of adultery, there was a guy involved and they saw him, but they didn't bring him. So they're breaking the law by only fulfilling half of it. Letting him go free but just bringing her.
So Jesus acts like He doesn't even hear them. But He wrote on the ground, verse 6. By the way, the only time we ever have a record of Jesus writing anything is here. Wouldn't it be fun to see how He wrote? Just what His penmanship was like? I'm curious about those things.
He's writing something on the ground and when he continued, they continue to asking Him. And He raised himself up and he said, "he who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone." Now, He raises the issue from a legal issue to a spiritual issue. Saying, you are all unfit to be her executioner.
There is only one qualification for you to be her executioner. You have to be... That's the Greek word for the two words without sin. If you are without sin, if you haven't wanted to do the same thing, then go ahead pick up a stone, kill her. Now they were all convicted, it says. "Those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one-by-one with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised himself up and saw no one but the woman. He said, 'woman, where those accusers of yours?'" They had gone. So "'has no one condemned you?'" She said, "'no one, Lord.' He said, 'neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.'" Is Jesus being light on sin? No.
The words imply two things, salvation and sanctification. Salvation is found in the words "neither do I condemn you." Sanctification is implied in the words "go and sin no more." I don't condemn you. There obviously had to have been some faith that she exhibited toward Him for Him to make that declaration. But then saying, go and sin no more, exactly what Paul says in Romans 6. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we who have died to sin continue any longer in it?
Now, let me close with this thought. The most expensive, valuable autograph in the world is guess whose? William Shakespeare. There are only six documents in existence that bear his signature, and each document is valued at well over $5 million. It's considered the most valuable autograph in existence, William Shakespeare.
But think of the words of Jesus writing on the ground. Now what did He write? We're not told. The word He wrote means He wrote something against them. My guess, and I'll explain why next week, He either wrote their name or He wrote their name with a sin that they had committed, like maybe a woman that Shlomo didn't think anybody knew about. He would sort of trace that name out, or a website thing, or a hotel room and a date, or an income tax form thing the guy cheated on.
But something that they saw it and they dropped their stone and they go, I got to pick up some eggs on the way home, see ya. And they bugged out. But how precious and how valuable for that woman. To have Jesus write on the ground to pardon her and say, go and sin no more.
To us, Jesus who will write your name in His book of life, that writing, that signature, is the most valuable. He knows your sin. He knows every bad thing, every bad motive and thought. But He is willing to say to you and I, I don't condemn you. Go and sin no more.
I'm going to explain to you next week what I think Jesus said and why He wrote on the dirt. It's fulfilling a very important prophecy of scripture. And then we'll, by God's grace, finish the chapter.
Father, we want to thank you for the opportunity to meet with You, though not in the morning, tonight as a group, hearing the words of Jesus, like bread broken afresh to us. Though not on the Mount of Olives, or in Jerusalem, nor in the temple, we, the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit gathered in this place of worship. We have heard from heaven. We have heard Your voice. And this woman who was so relieved by a Savior who knew the very worst about her was in that situation feeling so embarrassed, so humiliated by being drug into that holy place. And fingers being pointed at her and rocks being picked up to have the eyes of Jesus look at her, saying, I don't condemn you. But now go and sin no more. Lord, I believe you want to speak those words to some who are here tonight. They have come. Maybe they've come many, many times before, but they've never asked Jesus to forgive them of their sin. They've never asked to be cleansed from their unrighteousness. They're still carrying a weight of shame, embarrassment, humiliation. Others, Lord, are just thirsty. And they know it. They know it now and tonight more than ever before. And they want their thirst quenched. Lord, I pray that you would extend Your love and Your hand to them, giving them salvation. Showing them, Lord, that though the law condemns them, You, as the Savior who bore their sin, You don't condemn them. You came to save them. But Lord, if we're thirsty, we have to come. We have to drink. And it's a promise for anyone, everyone, whosoever.
As our heads are bowed, perhaps you've come and you've never given your life to Jesus. Maybe you were like me, raised in a religious home, and though you were raised in that home and you were raised to believe in God, you never came to a place where you personally committed your life to Jesus, asking Him personally to come inside. Asking Him to personally forgive you of the sins you've committed. You haven't been born again. You've been born once, but you haven't been born twice. And some of you know how thirsty you are. You've been trying to fill it, fill that parched soul of yours for so long with so many things, but they don't work. And you've come and you've heard.
And you've heard the offer of a Jesus who loves to forgive and who loves to satisfy and loves to use simple people. Maybe your heart's crying out for forgiveness or your heart's crying out for satisfaction. Would you give your life to Jesus? He gave His life for you. You don't have to do anything except admit that you're a sinner and admit that you need Him. You come and drink.
Maybe you've wandered away from Him and you need to come back home to Him. If you've taken 150 steps away from Him, you just have to take 1 step back. It's called "repentance." It means to turn around, to change your mind, change your direction. Just say, Lord save me. I believe in you. Forgive me. I trust you. Take me in or take me back. If that's you and if that's what you want, then you raise your hand right now. And I'll acknowledge your hand.
Just raise it up and you're saying, Lord, here's my hand, take me, save me, forgive me. Raise your hand up high enough so I can see it. God bless you to my left, and you, couple of you right over to my left, awesome, right there toward the middle in the back on my left. Anybody else? Raise that hand up. Right up here in the front. Lord, bless you. Anyone else? In the balcony, yes sir. Just lift that hand up. Lift it up and say, Lord, forgive me, save me, take me. Father, thank you for these men and these women.
Thank you, Lord for those hands that are raised. That's the indication of thirst. I pray now, Lord, as they come and as they drink, their life would never be the same. That they'd be satisfied and You'd use them for Your glory. In Jesus's name we ask, Amen.
Would you stand please to your feet? As we sing this final song, for those of you who raised your hands, yes, even in the balcony, I'm going to ask you to come down the stairs. If you're in any row, just find the nearest aisle, just say excuse me to the people next to you. We do this all the time. We're used to it. We're going to rejoice in it. And you come stand right up here. I'm going to lead you in a prayer right now of making Jesus your Savior, your Lord. This is you committing your life to Him. You come and stand right up there in the front. We'll wait for you. But you come. Come right up in the front.
It's who you are. It's who you are and I am loved by you. It's who I am. It's who I am. It's who I am and you're a good, good Father. It's who you are. It's who you are. Yeah! Awesome. God bless you. You think it's hard at first, but it feels pretty good to take that walk, doesn't it? To come down here and say, I'm giving my life to Jesus. The past is behind. New start. New life. Whether you raised your hand or not. Whether I saw your hand or not. Is there anyone else? We're going to sing this song really quickly through one more time. I want to give you an opportunity.
Take this opportunity. Say yes to the God who loves you and wants to save you. You say, well, how do I know it's going to work? Because He said so, number one. Number two, you're not going to know staying back. You come. If any man thirst, come to Jesus and drink. Come to Jesus and drink. See if He won't quench your thirst. See if He won't change your life. See if He won't forgive your sins. But you've got to come and see. You've got to come and see.
Anybody else? We'll wait for you, but you just come. Just say excuse me to the people standing next to you. Even if you're in the balcony or the family room or if you're outside. Just come through the doors. Run over here if you need to. We'll wait for you. You're a good, good Father. It's who you are. It's who you are. It's who you are and I am loved by you. It's who I am. It's who I am. It's who I am.
For those of you who have come forward, I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to say this prayer, these words, out loud, say them after me. Sort of like wedding vows. You know, you're publicly committing your life to Christ. You say these words from your heart. Say them as if nobody else around you. It's just you talking to God. Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus died on a cross. That He shed His blood for me. And that He rose again from the grave. I turn from my past. I repent of my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. I want to follow Him as my Lord. Help me in Jesus's name, Amen.