The Unconventional Jesus – Sermons & Articles

1.0 Who is Jesus (John 8:1-11)?

Note: John 8:1-11 was absent from most of the oldest copies of the Gospel prior to the sixth century. To say that it does not belong in the Gospel is not identical with rejecting it as unhistorical. In fact, it is accepted as historical truth and accords with the known character of Jesus, even though it was probably not a part of the original text.

1.1 Jesus was full of grace and truth.

A) On two occasions the Scripture describe Jesus as being full of grace and truth. Why? [John 1:14 and John 1:17]

John 1:17–”For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Grace since He embodied ”God’s kindness” towards us undeserving humans.

Definition: ”The word grace means unmerited favor or kindness shown to one who is utterly undeserving….It is not merely a free gift, but a free gift to those who deserve the exact opposite.”

Truth because He captured and represented the complete reliability of God. Truth is more than the absence of falsehood. Jesus is Truth.

Note: Truth is the ladder that we climb on to get to God; but grace is the steps on the ladder.

2.0 We’re Captured by God’s Amazing Grace.

2.1 Let’s see GRACE at work.

What’s going on at this point in the story?

The woman, along with her lover, were together throughout the night because they were caught at dawn.

She did not have time to properly fix her clothes, her hair, or her overall appearance. She was caught in the act of adultery and brought into public.

The religious people cared more about the Law-the truth-than the person. The religious leaders disgraced her by having her stand in front of the crowd.

According to the Law, she (along with her lover) were guilty and should be stoned to death.

Deut. 22:22-”If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.”

The witnesses, at least two, should be the first to stone the guilty party and then the members of the crowd.

Deut. 17:7-”The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.”

What was at the base of the problem?

(a) The religious people wanted to show that Jesus’ teachings were flawed; opposed to the Law; condoned sin; and accepted sinners-their behavior and all (John 8:5).

(b) The religious people were only interested in truth. Truth is less messy than grace; or grace and truth.

(c) Jesus was forcing people to live in tension between grace and truth. Life was becoming messy.

(d) Jesus was forcing the religious folks to engage the culture by addressing real problems in ways that was not scripted or negating the big-heartedness of God. This was messy and they wanted no part of it.

2.2 Grace is for people who’ve MISSED IT.

  1. A) This woman had a major moral failure.
  2. According to Jesus she had sinned.

Sin means ”to miss the mark (and so not to share in the prize).”

  1. The religious people wanted to throw her under the bus. In their minds, her sin of adultery was unpardonable.
  2. B) The church is for disciples, new converts and people on a spiritual journey and exploration about the claims of Christ.
  3. We bring baggage into the church.
  4. Baggage includes habits, behavior, judgments, attitudes, and assumptions about God, ourselves, and others.
  5. C) The religious people took the seat of God because they condemned her behavior as abominable and then passed sentence on her. Stone her!
  6. D) The church cannot simply operate off of truth in order to properly represent God.

The Law said: Keep the standard at all cost even if people-God’s highest prize-fall short of it. Grace says: give people a helping hand so they can attain to the standard.

  1. Despite the Law of capital punishment against adultery, she still went through with the act.
  2. Her hunger for love, sexual pleasure, acceptance, or unbridled freedom from past restrictions moved her to commit the moral crime.

2.3 The church must operate on God’s system of GRACE.

  1. A) Jesus applied grace in FOUR (4) different ways.

Note: Grace is for guilty people.

  1. Jesus saw her as a PERSON and not as a SINNER.
  2. a) He did not devalue or dehumanize her because of her behavior.
  3. b) By writing on the ground he drew attention away from her (standing in front of the crowd) and onto the ground.
  4. He DEFENDED her in the face of religious people.
  5. a) He challenged her condemners by saying: ”Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
  6. b) He asked her: ”Has no one condemned you?”
  7. He PICKED her up rather than push her down.
  8. a) He affirmed her worth as a person.
  9. b) He did not harp on her sin. She already knew her behavior was not stellar or in keeping with God’s standard.
  10. He used TRUTH as a bridge and not as a barrier.
  11. a) Jesus said: ”If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Note: The reality was that they thought their sin (self-righteousness and condemnation of others) more noble and pardonable than hers.

  1. b) Jesus said: ”Go and sin no more”, which means ”You can still hit God’s mark. Keep trying.”

John Piper said: ”Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.”

Note: The church must operate by the Latin phrase: ”sola gratia”, which means ”salvation by grace alone.”

Eph. 2:8-9-”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-9not by works so that no one can boast.”

Note: Archbishop Trench says: ”The Greeks were lovers of beauty, in nature, in their architecture, their statuary, their poetry, their drama. Anything which called out of the heart wonder, admiration, pleasure, or joy, was designated by this word [grace].”

  1. B) As she walked away her appetite for love-real love-was satisfied.
  2. C) As she walked home the sweetness of Jesus’ words rang in her ear-rang throughout her soul.
  3. He made her want to please God in how she lived…how she loved…how she related to others.
  4. Don’t you want that?
  5. D) As she walked away, she knew things would be different-forever.
  6. That day she met TRUTH-the way it was always meant to be.
  7. That day she met GRACE. She walked away speechless because she fell in love with the One who had forgiven her even though she was undeserving.

Rom. 5:20-”But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

  1. E) We need to operate in GRACE.
  2. There are people who need your help to climb out of their hole of pain, shame, guilt, or sin.

Note: Similarly, there are people God wants to send to Christ Church. But, it will take us walking in a new level of grace for them to be a part of our lives and church.

  1. Truth needs grace to reach its highest potency.
  2. Who are the people in your life that need you to show them grace? You’ve been showing them truth, but God is calling you to also show them grace. Isn’t it messy? Confusing? Disconcerting?
  3. What changes will you make now?
  4. What changes must our church make now?

Matt. 11:18-19-”For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

  1. How much baggage does a person have to leave at the door before GRACE can be extended?

The Picture of Grace

On Monday August 15, 2005, Ryan Cushing met his victim Victoria Ruvolo-the 44-year old Long Island woman whom he had damaged from a teenage prank. Ryan threw a 20-pound frozen turkey from his car into the oncoming car’s windshield. The turkey crashes through Victoria’s windshield bending the steering wheel inward, smashes into her face, and breaks every bone it encounters.

Now, nine months later, Ryan stands before his victim. He’s no longer tough but broken and emptied of all of the teenage ”tough guy image.” He pleads guilty of the crime.

However, he received a trifling six months behind bars, five years probation, a bit of counseling, and a dash of public service. The angry public cries: Why so lenient a punishment? Her eye is affixed by a synthetic film, face stapled together by titanium plates, a wired jaw; a tracheotomy.

The reason: Victoria had asked the judge for leniency. When Ryan hears the judge’s response to the victim’s cry, he weeps with abandon as his attorney leads him over to Victoria. She holds him tight, comforts him, strokes his hair, and offers reassuring words. ”I forgive you,” she whispers. ”I want your life to be the best it can be.” The New York Times dubs it, ”A moment of grace.”

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