At Valley View Church we are currently studying through the entire gospel of John, verse by verse. You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11 AM for worship. We are located at 8911 3rd Street Road, Louisville KY 40272.
Well,good morning, Valley View.It's great to be with you this morning.I got to tell you,it's really great to be in Louisville,Kentucky, this week.In fact, those last two songs,each of those kind of hit me in a different way.The themes of fresh wind blowing,the themes of homecoming,because a tornado passed through Little Rock this week and actually passed over the street.We lived on homes just a couple of houses down from us.Just a couple of houses down were destroyed across the street.Houses falling apart all around us.And when I saw that when I heard that,obviously we were burdened for our friends that live on that street.Many of them we know closely.We call and check in on them.No one no one was hurt.But also just the overwhelming sense of thank you, God,for bringing us here.You know, thank you.That we didn't have to experience that, have to go through that.We owned that home a year ago.And, you know, obviously,I know stuff hits you where you are that could still happen here,but it just brought an increased sense of gratitude for being here at Valley View and for all of you.So thank you for bringing us here.We're really grateful to be here.It's the point,and I'm really excited to dive into the days passage.In fact, I've been holding off the whole time we've been in the book of John to get here.I've been looking forward to this passage because basically I'm going to give you two sermons for the price of one today.And I know you can't wait.I know you're excited to hear that.I'm going to try to keep it to the same length.But this passage really requires you to look at it in two big chunks.In fact, we're going to wrap up John, Chapter seven.I said we wrapped it up last week,but there's this one extra verse that's tacked on to the beginning of Chapter eight,and so you'll want to be turned in there into Chapter seven.We're going to look at the first 11 verses in Chapter eight as well.But that passage,a couple of things about it,while I have to approach it in two different sermons within one sermon, one is we've got to teach the passage and the passages.The theme of the passage is all about a woman caught in adultery.How does Jesus engage with her?How does he dialog with those who are bringing the conviction against her?So I'm going to teach that passage.We're going to talk about that passage,but also this passage more than any other,needs to be dealt with in terms of what does this tell us about how much we can trust the Bible.In fact, I'm going to spend the first sermon within the sermon talking about why I think this passage more than almost any other in Scripture,greatly increases our trust and confidence in the Bible.A common objection You will hear from people when they say that Christianity can't be trusted or it isn't true,or that it's all made up.A common objection you'll hear is, Well, the Bible.Let's take the Bible,for instance.It's not trustworthy.I mean, it's been copied and copied and copied for generations.It's not even the real thing.We can't even know that it was the real thing that we started with.It's like a 2000 year version of the telephone game or something.That's the kind of objection you'll hear.But I hope to make the case today using this particular passage to help.Great to say the exact opposite of that.The reason why we can have incredible confidence in the Bible you hold in your hands today.Now, why this particular passage?Why this passage more than others?Well,it comes down to in fact,if you've read this before,you might be thinking really this passage,this one more than others.In fact, look, there's a couple of reasons why if you just look in your Bible, in fact,before you look in your Bible,the mindset to have some of us may have towards this passage is much like you might have about the NCAA championships in particular two 2013and you Avella and their national championship win.Throw that image up on the screen if you recall that glorious moment,although we have to act like it didn't happen.Right.If you remember that actually God vacated.So it's got a big asterisk next to it.This happened but but it didn't really happen.I can see the morning on your face is actually as I look around the room I know of,you are still trying to recover from that moment.I also see some smiles out there, by the way.I don't like that.I don't appreciate that.But it's there.But it's not there.And when we look at this passage,in fact,if you look in the ESV,I've got an image from the inside of the ESV,That's the Bible I preach from, partly because it has notes like this.Go ahead and throw up that image.It says right there,the earliest manuscripts do not include 753 through 811.It's got this note put off in brackets on the front end with a footnote and that footnote says stuff like it also appears and this location.And John,it also appears in the Book of Luke,it gets moved around in the older manuscripts and then the whole thing you can see double brackets at the start of verse53 on down through verse11, they put double brackets around it.And so you may be saying, really,you're going to pick this passage to tell me why the Bible is more trustworthy,the one that is in here,but maybe is not in here.Well, I got five points to make about why this passage in particular greatly increases our trust and confidence in the Scripture.So let's dive into these first one.Number one,by doing this,by putting in these notes, by setting it off in brackets,the translators are trying really hard to be as transparent as possible.So whenever a translation of the Bible is made,there's a team of guys for good, solid translations.I'm not talking about some of the versions that are just one guy giving his interpretation.Those are fine.I like reading those,but it's also helpful to know this is one guy's thoughts.But with Bibles like the ESV,NIV, King James,a whole team of translators came together and these are scholars.They list out their names oftentimes in the front of the Bible or somewhere in mind where you can find them.They're not hiding from anyone.You can go find these guys and ask them,what did you think of this passage?They'll respond to you.And they get together as a team and they talk through the passages.Should this be in the Bible or not?Based on the oldest manuscripts?And there are a couple of places where there is big disagreement.This is one also the end of Mark is this way.There's a big section at the end of Mark.And what I love about what these guys have done is they've said we're not 100% sure if this should be in or not.So we're going to treat it this way.We're going to put a note here.We're going to put brackets around it.We're not sure if we should leave it out.We're not sure if we should include it like the normal text.So let's be as careful as possible,be as transparent as possible,which I really appreciate.You know,cults and manipulators,they want to hide information from you.They want to tell you this is how it is.Don't go looking on your own.Here's a list of banned books that you can't read.Here's the things we don't want you to have access to.Just trust us completely, wholly.Don't think for yourself.But even the guys who are translating the Bible are going,You know what?Since we're not 100%sure, let's be as careful and as transparent as we can be.And I really appreciate that.I'm really grateful for that.Second,there's only a handful of passages like this in double brackets.Very, very few.So it's not like your Bible is riddled through with these greatly debated passages.There's really just very few.Now, there are a lot of differences between our manuscripts,and really that leads to my next point.Point three,though,there are many differences between the manuscripts of the Bible,there is no significant point of doctrine under question.As a result.So we have something like 5000different manuscripts of the Bible, and manuscript means handwritten.So the printing press comes around late 1400s.We don't have a Greek printed Greek New Testament until 1516.That's the first one that's printed prior to that, all handwritten.And so when things are hand copied, of course,sometimes it can be difficult to read.Sometimes the parchment fades.So that leads to a lot of differences.But overwhelmingly,the differences are very minor things like should this letter go on the end of this word or on the beginning of this word?Should it be a verb instead of an and should it be Jesus or should it be Jesus Christ?Or should it be Christ Jesus?Overwhelmingly, the differences are very minor like that, very subtle.They don't add up to huge differences.In fact,you can go see all the ancient manuscripts that your printed English Bible are based on.You can go see all the significant ones online.I had a friend, in fact,in seminary, we we were in Hebrew class together.And this guy,he would study Hebrew at night and during the day, his day job,he was a defense contractor.He did a programing and he was working on this program in particular that linked up soldiers on the field.In fact, he even developed the software that allowed you through an eyepiece.You could see through the scope of your gun around a corner.This is what he did during the day.And I know some of you are going, I want that.How do I get that job? You know,But he comes to the end of seminary and he goes,you know what?I want to take all those programing skills and apply them to Scripture.And so he moves to Germany to do a Ph.D.and while he's there,he develops this whole website where they're putting all these manuscripts online.The images transcribing them.You can search them all up and down.In fact, here's an image of this particular passage.I know you can't read it.I can't read it from here.But you can see there's the manuscript on one side,there's a transliteration of the other,and you can go find tons and tons of manuscripts.In fact,any decent Greek, New Testament,the whole back of it, it's just page after page after page of manuscript that you can't see this from here, but manuscript after manuscript after manuscript listed out,I jumped right past it. Sorry.And next to it is the location.Here's the library.It's in what country?It's in what century. It's from what it contains.Just page after page after page after page after page.Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds listed in the back because they want to be as transparent as possible.We're not trying to hide anything for anyone.If you're not sure that's what it says, go look for yourself.That website,it's accessible to anyone which greatly increases our confidence in what we have.When you have thousands and thousands of manuscripts to compare,it helps you to get back to what might originally been intended.In fact,there's a word for that.And this is my fourth point textual criticism.Go ahead,throw that up on the screen because this is a mouthful.Just bear with me for a minute.I told you, I've been waiting for this day.I'm really going to nerd out on you for a moment.Textual criticism is the art and science of comparing manuscripts to determine as closely as possible the original wording of the Bible.That's the fancy phrase for how do we get our final copy of the Bible?Textual criticism.That's the technical term for that discipline of comparing manuscripts and the beautiful part of us having so many different manuscripts is really we really can approach it with confidence that these are to be what we have is to be trusted.I think a great way to illustrate this and explain it,I heard from Wayne Graham.He said, you know,if we lost today the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, it's if I got burned, if if the archives got raided or whatever,if it got destroyed,we'd be able to recreate the Declaration of Independence or the Declaration of Independence.We'd be able to recreate it just based on the copies we have.And I'm not even talking about printed copies,photographs online.If we just went back and found hand copied copies,you could compare all those and there would be some differences,but you'd be able to get back with a high degree of confidence to what the original wording was.And it's a similar approach with scripture.In fact, there's a quote that sums up a lot of this by F.F Bruce,he was a well-known textual criticism scholar and here's what he says.Go ahead, throw that quote up on the screen.You can skip that other image there.F.F Bruce,F.F Bruce,about which any doubt remains.So meaning in particular,this passage in John,if there's any doubt about the differences between them,the variant readings about which any doubt remains in the New Testament affects no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice.So in the midst of all these little differences,subtle differences,at the end of the day,none of that affects any real significant point of practice,point of faith, point of history, point of doctrine So when someone says to you,well, we have lots of copies and they have lots of differences,you can say, yeah, they do.But that actually doesn't decrease our confidence in scripture.It increases our conference confidence in Scripture.In fact, that's my concluding point for this whole sermon before the sermon, pre sermon,because this is point five,because of how carefully the Bible has been handled,this increase is our confidence and trust in the Word of God.and trust in the Word of God.It has been handled so carefully and it has been assembled so carefully and so thoughtfully.This increases our confidence in the Word of God.The fact that they're transparent about,Hey, we're not 100% sure if this should be in or not.Okay.So that's sermon number one.Now, how does that set up sermon number two,how does that cause my mindset to be towards this passage?How do I approach it as I teach it?Do I approach it as Scripture or do I approach it as a not sure?Well, I'll tell you how I'm going to approach it today and if you want a whole lot more information on this,I'll put some links.You know,we put the sermons online on our website and we often put some notes under it, some comments.I'll put that up on there.When that comes up Monday or Tuesday.I'll also put a link to that in the midweek update if you really want to know.Lots of detail,I'll put a couple of links into an article there,some footnotes that'll help you discover that.But how I'm going to approach the scripture, I'm going to I'm going to teach it like Scripture because it's in our copy of the ESV.However, I'm going to do it with this caveat,and I think this is a helpful mindset of approaching any passage like this.In fact,I ran across across this quote where it says it this way teach to illustrate,but not determine our theology and practice,meaning any passage in double brackets like this,we should teach in a way that complements other points of theology alongside it.It shouldn't this shouldn't be the one place where you make your case for a point of theology is from this passage per se,or from the ending of Mark.And so I'm going to teach it with that in mind as if it is Scripture,because maybe it doesn't go here in the Book of John.It's also in some of these older manuscripts in the Book of Luke.Maybe it goes there,but most people who look at this go even though maybe it doesn't go here,we think this really happened.As we read the story you're going to see it feels very familiar.It feels like how Jesus would respond to a woman caught in adultery.It feels like how Jesus would interact with those just trying to trip him up.It rings true at so many levels.It complements other stories that have a similar nature.So I'm going to approach it that way as we dive into it.So sermon number one over time for sermon number two,where we're actually going to look at the passage itself and teach the passage.So turn with me, John.Chapter seven Last verse753 through 811,and let's dive into the passage.It's on page 840and a church Bible.If you don't have a Bible,we have Bibles out in the collection corner.Get up anytime you want and grab them.We want you to have your own copy that's free for you.Want you to have your own copy of God's Word.And the page numbers on screen are tied to that specific Bible.So let's look at verse 53,read a couple of verses here to get our setting of the story.Verse 53,they went each to his own house,but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives early in the morning.He came again to the temple.All the people came to him and he set down and he taught them.So if you remember the setting, he's been in the temple teaching.It's the end of the Feast of the Booths that wraps up and it says People go back to their homes.He goes to the Mount of Olives, more than likely.This has been a big festival.It's probably taken aloud a lot out of him.So he goes to get a break,probably goes off to pray alone.We see that pattern with Jesus many times,but then he comes back and the cool part is when he comes back it says all the people came to him.I don't know what that means if that's kind of like the oil we use,but a whole group of people show back up,which if you've been kind of a Jesus hater at this point in the story,you might be like,Now what's happened in here?People are starting to come back with God.His disciples had left him.We thought things were heading downhill.There's all this division around him.Hey, maybe things are back on the upswing for Jesus.Maybe he is kind of rebuilding his brand here,starting to get excited about what might be happening for him.So what happens in the miss of that?What's the response to that?Look at the next set of verses here.The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst.They said to him, Teacher,this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.What do you say?They said this to test him that they might have some charge to bring against him.So here's the setting he's teaching in the temple.The income scribes and Pharisees bring a woman now to set up the situation.And the interesting part is right out of the get go,we get the behind the scenes information.The whole point they're doing this is to test Jesus.That's that's what they're after here.And so we come into this story and we're wondering,how's Jesus going to respond?What's going to happen?What's he going to do with these who really don't care about him,don't care about this woman,They just want to trip him up?It's really interesting to see their approach because in the way they approach him,we see two huge problems with the way they approach him with this setting.So the first relates to the woman and how they approach her.They bring her in and it says in verse four,a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery,caught in the very moment of adultery.This isn't just hearsay.This isn't just a jealous spouse trying to get her in trouble.This woman was caught in the very act of adultery.The huge problem with this is where's the other party involved in this?You know, the old saying goes,it takes two to Yiddish,right?I don't even know what that means.Actually, I just made that up.Tango sounded kind of weird in the New Testament, but it takes two to make this happen, right?So where's the other party caught in the act?You don't commit adultery alone.Why did they just only bring in the woman?And what this tells us about them is that they don't care about her at all.You know,the very people who were meant to protect her spiritually,they're treating her just like every other man in her life as they're just using her.They're just using her.They don't care about her.This makes teachings like Matthew five and the Sermon on the Mount that much more difficult to process.The whole passage in the Sermon on the Mount,Jesus is teaching people what the law really meant.You see, this pattern of you have heard it said,but I say to you, here's what you think the law means.Let me explain to you what the law really means.Here's the letter of the law that you're focused on.Here's the heart,the spirit of the law.And there's that passage in particular where he says,you have heard it said,do not commit adultery.And if those maybe some of these scribes and Pharisees might say,I haven't committed adultery, I'm so much more better of a person than this woman at our feet.But then it goes on to say,But if you've looked upon a Roman, a woman with lust in your heart,you've already committed adultery in your heart.And maybe they haven't lusted after her,but they've done the same thing of just using her for their own pleasure or just use and we don't care about you.You're just a tool. Toward the end,getting after Jesus.So that's the first really concerning part of this text and the way they have gone about this really poorly.They just use the woman.But the second concern, the second problem comes in the way that they handle the law.In fact, it's more shocking than the way they hint they mishandle the woman is how they mishandle the law because look at verse five, it says,The law of Moses commanded us to stone such women.But if you look back at the law,Leviticus 2010,then say, Stone,first of all, just that they should be put to death.But also it's not just the woman.Both parties involved are to be put to death.So again, where's the man?Where's the other person in this arrangement?And what this shows is just like they use the woman towards their own gain, towards their own end.I don't care about the law either.They don't really care about the law.All they care about is getting what they want.They'll use the law.They'll mishandle.The law, however, is needed.However is necessary to get what they want to get the power they so desperately are hungry for.And I think this is important place to just pause personally and ask,That's a dangerous place to be in, in my own heart when I have an agenda that I'm pushing, no matter what.I got to have this no matter what, no matter what Scripture says,no matter what other people are saying to me,no matter what the facts say,no matter what people are hurt,that's a dangerous place to be.I, I hope that the Holy Spirit in those moment convicts us and says,take a step back.Just take a pause here.Just look around for a moment and listen to what the Holy Spirit might be saying.It's an important morning for all of us.Now, how does Jesus respond to this?Here she is at his feet.He knows all this.He knows they don't really care about her.They don't care about the law.They just want to trip him up.They want to see which side are you going to take?You're going to take the law of Moses,which you can't really carry out fully.By the way,the Jews weren't allowed to carry out capital punishment,except in the case of the temple that we talked about in the Ephesians.But in this case, they knew he wouldn't be allowed to stone or he'd be in trouble with the Romans.Or do you take the side of the Romans,which puts you in trouble with all the people who are expecting the Messiah to come and be against the Romans?Which way do you go?There's a no win situation here. Jesus, What do you do?How do you respond?Let's look and see and look at the second half of verse six and look at how he responds.Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground,and as they continued to ask him,he stood up and said to them,Let him, who is without sin among you, be the first to throw a stone at her.And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground,I love this passage.In fact,I've often thought, Hey,if your kids are fighting,try that.Just bend down and start writing on the ground.See if that calms everyone down.It doesn't work, by the way.Then don't try it.Don't waste your time.But one of the great debates of Scripture is what in the world did he write?I mean,how many people have wondered?You've probably heard speculation over and over again,What in the world could he have written in this moment that quieted everyone down?And you know, we have no idea.There's no way to know.But it sure is fun to guess. Right.So I'm going to guess a little bit here for a minute.Complete guesswork.Okay.Just bear with me.This is not the same for Lord,but there have been some interesting ideas floated around.One is just that he was just merely doodling,just not doing anything in particular and in his body language,sending the signal that what you're talking about doesn't matter.I can't be bothered with such a trivial issue.This doesn't stir me up the way you think it will.And here they are desperate to trick him and he just doesn't even care,which is infuriating.Another guess is that maybe he was writing the secret sins of his the accusers right there in front of them.Oh, you say you have no sin.I know what your sins are.Let me just write them out here for others to see.We don't know.Those are guesses. Those are.We have no idea.I think there's one parallel, though,with the Old Testament that we can look at and see some linking.We don't know what he wrote,but there is someone else who wrote with their finger in the Bible.Do you anybody remember the situation?God himself wrote the Ten Commandments with his finger.And I think there's just a bit of connection here that we see all throughout the book of John,the ways that subtly Jesus is positioned as God himself.And he's the only one that has the authority to write the words of God.The very one who wrote them himself understands what they really mean.And so in this moment,he bends down, he's writing,and then he says this phrase,Let him, who is without sin among you, be the first to throw a stone at her.It's important for us to take a moment and really think about this phrase,talk about this phrase,because it's often misunderstood,misapplied to mean something along the lines of, you know,we don't have any right to make any moral judgment at all if I've done anything wrong in my life.Therefore,we have no right to make any kind of moral judgment.That's not really I don't think that's the point of this passage.As we read.We've got to get the rest of the story to see why that is.We'll see how you unpack it unpacks it,but that's often a mis application misunderstanding of this passage.So look at how the rest of the interaction goes.He bent down, continue to write on the ground, verse nine.When they heard it,they went away one by one,beginning with the older ones,and Jesus was left alone with a woman standing before him.Jesus stood up and said to her woman,Where are they?Has no one condemned you?She said, No one, Lord And Jesus said,Neither do I condemn you. Go.And from now on sin no more.Whatever he wrote,we don't know exactly what it was,but what he said struck a chord and they slowly trickle out of the room.And I love here.I love that John is careful to make the point that the first people to leave were the or the old folks.You know,that's a principle I talk about here all the time in terms of the older,the more mature should take the lead in things should be the first to defer their own preferences for the good of others should be the first.To seek forgiveness or to apologize should be the first to show kindness, to have a a light hearted attitude. And in fact, yesterday I was at a funeral home.You may have known Betty Fleur.She was a longtime member here.She was living in Florida at the time,but she passed away and they had her service own funeral home yesterday.And I was in the funeral home and income Charlotte,Larry Piercey and Charlotte hasn't been here in quite a while.She had a knee replacement,so she'd been gone many, many weeks because there were complications around it.But here she was a funeral home,and I walk up to her to say hi before I can say anything,she says hi.I'd like to introduce myself.My name's Charlotte Piercey.I used to be active at Valley View.It's good to see you.It's good to meet you,Pastor John.And I love that about it is a light hearted tone.I said, you know, we'll have a new members class.You're coming up soon that you can check out.I didn't say that, too.No, no, no.I love that.I love that lighthearted tone,that playfulness.And in this moment,the older ones are the first to go, Yeah,I see what's going on here.And they take the lead.Come on, let's go.Let's give up on this.He's right.Who am I to drag her before him?I really hope that's our posture here, by the way.I really hope as a church,that's our posture.I hope that when someone comes in here,maybe they're not dressed the way you would like and maybe they're not wearing enough clothing.Maybe they don't smell the way you like.I don't know.But I hope our posture is.Come on,Come on.In fact,I like to say come as you are so you don't have to stay as you are.That's the beautiful part of this passage.So Jesus says to her, Look,I don't condemn you.Which reminds me of one of my favorite verses.Romans 8:
1 .There's therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,that being the key phrase,those who are in Christ Jesus for the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of Sin and death.you free from the law of Sin and death.For those who are in Christ Jesus.There is no convent condemnation.And she has met Jesus and he says,I don't condemn you.And yet and here's the beautiful part of this passage,and yet he doesn't leave it there.He still calls her up,Go and sin no more.Don't continue to live the way you're living.Don't continue to live the way you're living.And he doesn't do that to say.And if you behave good enough,then maybe I'll let you in.Al Mohler I've heard him say the gospel is not behave,it's believe.Don't behave better believe.But and yet the call is come as you are.So you don't have to stay as you are.Come as you are.I do not condemn you.I do not condemn you.And so my hope is that when anyone comes into this church,they would come in not feeling judged,not feeling condemned,feeling welcomed,and at the very same time having such a radical encounter with Jesus Christ that they are completely made new and feel in that very moment, I can't stay the way I've been.I mean,every one of us are here because you want to change.No one here wants to stay the same.Otherwise you wouldn't listen to me go on and on about how Jesus changes week after week after week.We all want to change.I want to change.I don't want to stay the way I am.And that's my hope.Come as you are.Come as you are, please.So that you don't have to stay as you are.So that you don't have to stay as you are.That's the call of this passage.That's what Jesus is calling us to.And when you meet him,he can change your life in such a radical away that the things that seemed so important before I just pass away as irrelevant.The things that consumed your personhood and identity,the things that completely defined who you were.Gone in a moment.Come as you are.Come as you are.Because and so that you don't have to stay as you are.Let's pray God, thank you for how you have worked in our lives.We can't take credit for who we are or where we are.It's completely, entirely,and solely up to you.Thank you for how you have changed our desires.Thank you.That you can continue to change this.Thank you. That you're not done with us yet.My prayer that today, all day long we would be dwelling on just the richness and beauty of the ways you have changed our lives,The ways you have stepped in made us new rescued us from the domain of darkness,transferred us to the kingdom of your son,would help us to live in a way that models that to others.That shows them that you are alive in our lives and that you want to be at work in others lives as well.Give us the opportunity to talk about you this week.Jesus, we love you.We thank you.I thank you for everyone who is here today.It's in your name. We pray.Amen.