Tony Evans - Case Dismissed
I am sure that many, most, if not all, particularly if you have lived for a while, know what it is to have lost your dignity, to have done something for which you are ashamed, that you regret. And perhaps it's not only something in the past, but something from the past that stays with you. Because shame has a way of hanging out, hanging around with our regrets where we have failed and faulted and you want your dignity back. In John chapter 8, we have a court case, and we've been talking about the fact that God does his business with us in a legal setting. Jesus has gone to the Mount of Olives, but early in the morning he comes again, verse 2, to the temple, and all the people were coming to him. Jesus has drawn a crowd. And he sat down and he began to teach.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. And having set her in the center of the court, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery in this very act. Now the law of Moses commanded us to stone such a woman, what then do you say"? We've got a woman who's been caught red handed. Her sin is been identified, and worse than that, it's been made public. Because she's in the court, in the temple where Jesus was teaching and a crowd had gathered and the scribes and Pharisees put her on blast, put her on public display. It's bad enough when you're wrong, it's worse when everybody else knows it. She's in public court, and she's been found guilty by the scribes, who are the Jewish lawyers, and the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders. And they raise the question according to verse 5 about what the law says 'cause this is a legal situation. They say, "The law of Moses says that for this act, she should be stoned. What say you, Jesus"?
Now we're given something at the beginning of verse 6. "They were saying this, testing him so that they might have grounds for accusing him". So they weren't just after the woman, they were after Jesus. But the accuser uses our sin to discredit Jesus. So the woman is put on display, but what they're really after is Jesus. "What say you, Jesus? The law says we ought to stone her". And it was a test, it was a trick. Let me tell you some of the elements of the trick, the test. The Jewish law did say you get stoned, but if Jesus would've stoned her based on what the law said, then he would've gone against Roman law because the Roman law wouldn't let Jews commit capital punishment.
So if he would've insisted on the Jewish law, they could accuse him of breaking Roman law so Rome could come after Jesus 'cause he broke Roman's law by keeping biblical law. But if he went to Roman law, then he would've rejected biblical law. If he would've said, "Don't stone her," then he would've been going against what the law of Moses said, which was to stone her. So he's in a catch 22, he's in what a friend of mine calls the trick bag. He's in a situation where either decision... not only that, but Jesus, if you read the book of John, has been talking about compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion, and deliverance, and saving, and he been talking about being compassionate. If he keeps the law of Moses, then he's not exercising compassion. And so he discredits himself among the crowd. But if he shows compassion and say, "Don't stone her," then he's disobeyed the law of Moses.
Catch 22. They were after Jesus, it was a trick, it was a trap to bring him down by bringing her down. And so the situation is set. Let's go further. According to verse 6, "When Jesus heard the question, but Jesus," at the end of verse 6, "Stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground. And when they persisted in asking him, he straightened up and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him be first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and he was left alone and the woman where she was in the center of the court".
Something took place in these proceedings. Something happened in the courtroom that shook up the deliberations. The scribes and the Pharisees say, "We got her, she was caught, this is what the rule say, this is what the law says. You've been talking all this compassion stuff and all of that. What say you? What do we do? What do we do with this situation, Jesus? 'Cause we got you, we got you now". Now, obviously they didn't know who they were talking to, but something happened in this courtroom that is critical for me and you and us today to regain what the enemy wants to steal. John 10:10 says that "The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy".
When Jesus gets asked the question, we are told that he stoops down in verse 6, and with his finger writes on the ground. We're told that they kept asking him the question. Verse 7, he says, "He that is without sin cast the first stone," and he stoops down, and he writes again. And when he writes the second time, case dismissed. So now that raises the question, doesn't it? 'Cause whatever he was writing and whatever he was saying shook the courtroom up, and everybody walked out of the courtroom. So the question is, what did he write? 'Cause we're not told what he wrote. We're just told he wrote, then we're told he wrote again. But whatever it was, it was sufficient to end the proceedings.
Maybe you need God to write something for you, or me, or us that will get us out this courtroom of judgment. But the question is, what did he write? 'Cause we're not told, we're just told that he wrote twice. The key to understanding what was written is understanding what the discussion is about. The discussion is about the law of Moses, that's what they're talking about. The scribes and the Pharisee say, "The law of Moses said that this woman should die for her sins, that's what God's law says". Jesus stoops down, writes, and responds. So maybe if we just go back to the law of Moses, since that's what's on this, on the table, we will discover what was written.
Let's go back. Let's start a little Bible study here with Exodus chapter 31. We're coming back to John, but Exodus chapter 31, verse 18. "When he had finished speaking upon Mt. Sinai," God, "He gave Moses two tablets of the testimony," Ten Commandments, "Tables of stone written by the finger of God". Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. When I go back to John chapter 8, verse 6, Jesus stooped down with his finger and wrote on the ground. They're talking about the law of Moses, the law of Moses was written by the finger of God. God is the law giver, he writes the Ten Commandments on the tablet with his finger, they bring up to Jesus the law of Moses, Jesus takes his finger.
Jesus say, "You wanna talk about the law giver? The law giver writes with his finger". He doesn't write on a tablet, he writes on some dirt because the woman has been called dirty. Okay, let's go back to Exodus chapter 34, verse 1. "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones and I will write on the tablets, the words that were written on the former tablets you shattered.'" Oh, wait a minute, now we got it written twice. There are the former tablets, and now these are new tablets. Why do we have a second set of tablets? Because between chapter 31 and chapter 34, God's people rebelled against him in sin, in evil, they built the golden calf, and they departed from God, and as a result of their departure, Moses broke the tablets.
Chapter 32 verse 19, "It came about as soon as Moses came near to the camp that he saw the calf and the dancing, and Moses's anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain". Stay with me here. God gave them the tablets. The people rebelled against God. Moses broke the tablets. In chapter 34, verse 1 God rewrites the tablets. Why does God rewrite the tablet number two after they had failed with tablet number one given the sin that took place between the two tablets?
Look at verse 6 of chapter 34. When he writes the second tablet, then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord God, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for a thousand generations and forgives iniquity, transgression and sins; yet he will no wise leave the guilty unpunished". He says, "Tablet number one, these are my rules". Before he writes tablet number two, they break the rules. God says, "I want you to know something else about my character. I got the rules, but I'm also full of lovingkindness, full of forgiveness and removing of iniquity, yet I still gonna rewrite the tablets. I don't give up my rules to be gracious, but I don't let my rules keep me from being gracious".
He tells him that the tablets are to be rewritten. So, it is in the midst of this, in between the two, "You who are without sin cast the first stone". If you go now to Deuteronomy chapter 17, he says in verse 6, he says the first stone has to be from the witnesses. So the first people who throw the stones have to be the people who saw the sin. And it can't be one person, it's gotta be two or at least three witnesses before judgment can be rendered, and you can't be a witness and hide. You got to be the first to throw the stone, you just can't be whispering in secret. "I think I saw this, I think I heard that". No, you gonna throw the stone first, because you are the one accusing them.
Now, according to chapter 8, we saw this woman in the very act. So that means that there is some witnesses that can testify and that ought to be qualified to throw the first stone because you had to have two or three witnesses. Oh, let's take it a little deeper. Chapter 19 of Deuteronomy, verse 15. "A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or sin which he has committed, but on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a matter be confirmed. If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priest, and the judges who will be in office".
See, we're in a courtroom. "The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness, he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus, you shall purge evil from among you". Ooh, it's getting deeper. If you gonna be a witness and you gonna throw the first stone, but you are found to be a false witness, whatever was gonna happen to the person that you were judging now reversed back and will happen to you. He says, "He that is without sin cast the first stone". Deuteronomy 22, verse 22, "If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die. The man who lay with the woman and the woman, thus you shall purge the evil from Israel".
Wait a minute, wait a minute. In John chapter 8, only the woman is brought forth. But if you're caught in the very act, that means there's a man somewhere, all right. But just like today, the woman is blamed and the man walks away. They bring the woman, but do not bring the man. They broke the law. I think what you got here is a setup. I think the man was set up to be caught with the woman, which is why he's not brought forth, he's part of the plan, 'cause the plan is to trap Jesus. So this woman is being used. She's being used for spiritual assault on Jesus Christ. It says when he wrote the second time, there had to be two witnesses.
Well, there were not two witnesses, we're talking about the law of Moses. There were not two witnesses, thus they all left, because if they broke the law, they would get the judgment of the law that they were bringing against the woman would fall back on them. So because they didn't want to be the first to cast the stone, which says, "I'm a witness," which says, "I know that man was there, but I didn't bring him into court, which means I didn't obey the law, then I'm under the judgment I was gonna dispense". They didn't know who they were dealing with. Jesus Christ watches them with the lady. All go, all leave. Wait a minute. Now we got a court with no witnesses. It is hard to have a trial and a decision if there is no witness.
Now, this is not changing that the woman was wrong. It does change what was the outcome in the court because there were no two witnesses. This leads to one of the most astounding, hopeful, hopeful principles that I wanna give you with. For me, for you, for us, to help you, but to also help others. Verse 10 of John 8, "Straightening up, Jesus said to her, 'Woman, where are they, your accusers? Where are... I don't see nobody. Where are they? Did not one condemn you? Where is your condemnation?'" And then he throws a line out here that is awesome. She said, "No one, Lord". Oh, watch this now. Not, "No one," "No one, Lord". I'm submitting to you. I'm acknowledging you. I'm not dealing with people now 'cause I'm dealing with you. "No one, Lord," and Jesus says, "I do not condemn you either. Go, from now on sin no more".
Jesus did not release her from the reality of her sin, what he released her from was the condemnation of the consequences of her sin 'cause it was a death penalty. Jesus in this courtroom becomes her advocate. "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy," John 10:10, but Jesus says, "I have come to give you life, and to give it to you more abundantly". John chapter 3, verse 17, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might have life through him". Romans 8, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". He tells the woman, "Since there are no witnesses, I don't condemn you. Not because you didn't sin, but because I must invoke my law. And because my law has been breached, there are no witnesses, I am not going to hold against you what you legitimately deserve". And the biblical word is mercy. "I do not condemn you".
Now, here's what you need to know, this is very important. He does not say, "Sin no more so that you don't be condemned". He says, "You are not condemned, sin no more". He doesn't say, "Get right so that I can accept you," he says, "I accept you, so get right". One of the reasons that we don't get right is we don't value the acceptance that we have in Jesus Christ. We don't value the cross, and because we don't value the fact that he didn't and doesn't operate with us in the spirit of condemnation, we go and keep sinning. He says, "You're not condemned". He says, "And neither do I. I want you to stop sinning because you appreciate mercy. I want you to stop sinning because you value my goodness to you and mercy triumphs over judgment".
I hope you know your value. If you've accepted Jesus Christ, you are a blood bought child of the living God. Jesus thought well enough for you, well enough for me, and well enough for us to die on the cross in our place for our sins, and not only that, but he says, "You don't have to earn my acceptance, I'm gonna accept you anyway, I just wanna see how much you appreciate it".
Case dismissed. Case dismissed. You are now free 'cause this courtroom proceeding is over. You know the best way to make sure your case is dismissed? Leave here today with thanksgiving, leave here today with gratitude, leave here today with appreciation that you didn't get what you could've gotten if God would've let your accusers have their way. You would not be here today, but it is grace and mercy you stand in this house with the privilege of worshiping, serving, and obeying your great King, 'cause guess what he said about you every time the devil shows up? "Case dismissed. I've already paid the price".