Bible Study #3 – “Neither Do I”

The text for this study is taken from John 8:1-11. There are debates about whether this story was in the original (greek) gospel of John, or whether it was added 100 years or so later. That debate is not the purpose of this post from my viewpoint. This happens to be one of my favorite stories (I think I say that about a lot of stories from the Bible).

Jesus was at the Temple one morning. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They most certainly understood the law and what it said the punishment was – however they ignored the fact that the law said that both parties should be punished…they only dragged the woman to the temple. Hmm.

So here is this woman. Caught in the act…and dragged into a large crowd of people. I can’t imagine what she must have felt. Barely clothed. Terrified for her life. Completely shamed and humiliated.

These men though were only using the woman as a pawn in their game to trip Jesus up and trap him into saying something they could use against him (they wanted him dead). Now this makes me really not like these guys. They are using someone to accomplish their own agenda. Not just using her, but publicly humiliating her and threatening to stone her – all to make their point! Jesus was the real target, she was just their weapon of choice.

At this point Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Some scholars suggest that he was stalling for time as he figured out how to handle the situation. Perhaps he was doodling – some people do this when they think. I’ve never much thought of Jesus as a doodler. I like to think he was just taking his time – giving the teachers and Pharisees time to squirm and get really anxious. At this point he stands back up – and the teachers demand an answer from him. “The law of Moses says stone her. What do you say?” I’m sure at this point the Pharisees are feeling pretty good about themselves, thinking they finally got him on this one.

Jesus answers by saying, “The one who has never sinned should throw the first stone.” (As I read this story over and over it came to me…isn’t Jesus “the one” who has never sinned?) And then he bent down and began writing again. At this point it is believed by some that he was writing the names and sins of each of this woman’s accusers (he’s Jesus – he certainly knew what they were guilty of). I truly hope that is what was happening here. I picture him thinking “Alright, boys…if this is how you want to play it – let’s go”  I can see Jesus waiting for their reply. Looking at each one of them and then back down to his list in the dust, and then back to each one of them.

One by one the men dropped their stones and left the scene. Of course they didn’t mind exposing this woman’s sin – but when it came to their own sins begin exposed they were gone! They could very clearly see and point out the sins of others, but could not see their own sin.

Finally just Jesus was left with the woman. She had to be wondering what in the world would happen next. Still scared and humiliated. Jesus walked to her and asked her “Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’

“No, Lord.” (She called him Lord…)

“Neither do I…Go and sin no more.”  He didn’t yell at her. Shame her. Tell her how worthless she was. Call her an adulterer. He did acknowledge that she had sinned, but in those simple three words…Neither do I, he offered forgiveness and compassion and hope. Jesus saw her with love, not judgment. He told her to go and leave her old life behind and that there is true life in him. Jesus was much more concerned about the woman’s future than her past. In those three words, Jesus freed her from her past. She was understood by Jesus rather than condemned by him. Rather than being stoned, she was saved.

Questions:

1. Think about something that has caused you shame. What does it feel like to even think of that thing? Now imagine if it were publicly announced.

2. This woman was judged by the religious leaders and the Pharisees? Have you ever felt judged this way? Have you ever judged someone else?

3. What do you think about the fact that the woman called Jesus “Lord”?

4. Tell about a situation where you have seen God show mercy in your life instead of letting you suffer the consequences of your actions. How has God shown mercy in your past circumstances?

5. Describe what you think was going through the woman’s mind as Jesus wrote in the dust.

6. In what practical ways can we be merciful to others in our daily lives?

 

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13 comments on “Bible Study #3 – “Neither Do I”

  1. michele hoskins says:

    I love this story. This is a very tough one for me to reply on but Im going to give it a shot….
    1. I was forced into an abortion when I was a senior in high school by my parents. I kept that shame for almost 31 years. Through CR and God I was able to let go of my shame. I really thought I was the worst person on this earth. I tried to kill myself twice due to my shame and my parents forbid me to ever speak of it again. They are the ones who forced me into it. I lived with this for far too long and I was finally able to allow God to take my shame away.
    It wasnt publically announced but the whole school knew. Just as bad
    2.I dont think I was ever judged by religious leaders but I was by kids in school. I have to admit that it was very hard to face. I have tried very hard not to judge others because of that.
    3, She called him lord because she was humbled by his greatness. She didnt feel worthy.
    4. God shows me mercy every day. I dont feel worthy of his greatness. I fall short of feeling like I deserve his greatness. I feel like everything in my life has been taken from me because I fall short and I havent made the best decisions.I sometimes feel as if I just dont measure up. God keeps me on my feet daily and thats a blessing.
    5. I think she felt like God was going to write her wrongs in the sand for everyone to see. She felt shame.
    5. I strive to not judge and be compassionate to everyone. It doesnt matter what anyone has done in their past only what God has washed away. No one has a perfect past and I dont have a right to judge.

    • Roxann says:

      Well, as I am obviously the old lady of our b.s.b.t. (Bible study blog thingy….thanks, Susan, for our cool name!!), one verse really caught my eye. In all the times I’ve read this passage, I had never noticed a small detail in verse 9 ….. “At this, those who heard began to go away, one at a time, the OLDER ones first, until only Jesus was left…..”. The older I get, the more I realize how much God has forgiven me. So the oldest Pharisees & leaders were the quickest to catch on to the fact that they were as guilty as the woman and had no right to stand in judgment of her life. I need those reminders often, as I do tend to be judgmental of others. Why did I ever think that I was the standard for others to measure themselves against, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth?

      Being publicly shamed has to be a horrendous experience. This has never happened to me, but it isn’t because I haven’t “deserved” it. Michele, your shame and hurt over the abortion absolutely breaks my heart. I, too, was a pregnant high school senior. My family was also heartbroken, but they chose to support me unconditionally. I married Ken, we have 2 sons, and will soon celebrate 44 years of marriage. By God’s grace alone have we survived. I have always struggled with regret and guilt over my choices, but God took my ashes and turned them into beauty…..just like He has done and is doing for you! You are truly an overcomer!!! We can never deserve His mercy or love … that’s why they call it amazing grace, right?

      This story is so full of examples that show God’s nature…..unconditional love, mercy, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness (and forgetfulness….it’s usually a bad thing when we forget, but it’s always awesome when God throws our sins & shortcomings into the Sea of Forgetfulness!!). Julie, I loved your statement about God not being concerned about our past but about our future! There’s such hope in that thought!

      • susanmkopp says:

        1. Okay, check. I think it would be awful to have something I’m ashamed of be publicly announced!

        2.Yes, I have felt judged, very recently. I was whispered about and talked about and I KNEW it was going on. It was awful. It was hard to face people knowing they knew things about me that they shouldn’t know. I was horribly upset and felt judged by people who supposedly loved me. It’s a horrible feeling. But, to be honest, I’ve probably made people in my life feel this exact same way. And that’s something I am ASHAMED of. I know what it’s like to feel judged so the thought of me making someone else feel that way…..awful….

        3. I feel like she called him “Lord” because she knew of him. I figure the Pharisees probably chatted about him while they were dragging her to be “judged” by him. She was probably associating him to the men who were taking her for punishment.

        4. Man. This is a tough question. I think God shows me grace/mercy every single day. I used to tell the girls in my CR group that I don’t just “fall short” of glory/grace, I face plant, skid across the pavement and often land in front of God’s feet. I think of all the stupid, sinful things I’ve done in my past and still do today and to know that he forgives me is sometimes unbelievable.

        5. All I can think is that she probably associated (as I said previously) this man Jesus, with the men who were taking her before him. I don’t imagine that they were very kind or compassionate towards her so she probably was terrified by the time she stood before Jesus. I like to think in my head that Jesus was writing “Top 10 reasons I hate Pharisees” in the sand but I imagine she thought something much worse. Maybe she thought he was writing down all her transgressions? Her punishment? It’s hard to know.

        6.TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED!!!! I think that’s one of the biggest ways we can show mercy to others.

  2. julessuman says:

    Michelle, your transparency is so refreshing. I am truly grateful for your willingness to share with us and be so real. Roxann, I love that you always bring something out from the story that I did not see in the 10 (100) times I read it. The “older” guys may have realized that their list of sins was pretty long…and they ran first. Susan, you are such a strong woman of God and I honestly think you ought to give yourself so much more credit than you do at times. We all have been judged and we all have judged…I have to keep myself in check A LOT on this subject. I will look at Brian sometimes after I’ve said something and ask him, “Am I being a Pharisee” Too often he has to answer yes. I do not understand what it would feel like to be publicly shamed like this woman was – but I do know what it feels like to carry shame around. To bury a secret of shame so deeply that it is nearly crippling. But I also know the feeling of Jesus breaking the chains of shame – and that it amazing. I imagine this woman felt the chains fall off of her much in the same way. Sometimes I worry that I’m just still not “good” enough…and I have to remind myself that there is nothing that God cannot heal and that he does not hold me to my past…but I do at times. He has forgotten it – I can’t sometimes. I heard a sermon just this afternoon, and the preacher was talking about comebacks. He said there is NOTHING that we have done that will keep God from forgiving us. But some of us won’t let ourselves get past it…and here is my favorite part. “We have to be able to crawl out from under our own history to find our true destiny.” We don’t really know what happened to this woman. I’d like to think that from the very moment of her encounter with Jesus she was changed and started her life over – with a whole new perspective. I hope that she was able to forget her past mistakes the same way Jesus did in that instant. The same way he does for me daily. I love you ladies! Thank you so much for your thoughts and comments and sharing.

    • susanmkopp says:

      ” Susan, you are such a strong woman of God and I honestly think you ought to give yourself so much more credit than you do at times.”

      Well, thank you. Is it weird that I think I’m a big fake sometimes?

      • julessuman says:

        Not weird at all….I know exactly what that feels like. Sometimes I wonder if I am really who I say I am. But then God reminds me…I am really who HE says I am…and that’s all that matters.

  3. julessuman says:

    And I’m going to get a little mushy here…just deal with it for a minute. I know that God has placed on my heart to really dig into his word and study it. But I’m not so good at it yet. I still see a lot of things at surface level and don’t get real deep meanings yet. Thank you for pointing things out to me that you saw through the word. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. It truly makes my heart happy.

    • susanmkopp says:

      Oh Jules. I only wish you knew how much I admired you and how much you study the word! I look up to you and you’ve been a huge influence in pushing me to learn more and dig more. Well, all of you have! I feel truly blessed to be a part of this online Bible study thingy (seriously, that should be it’s official name).

  4. Roxann says:

    We are all learning together, Miss Julie!! You are doing an amazing job leading us and encouraging us to read and look deeper into the Word!! Thank you for giving us this opportunity to know Him and to know one another better! Susan and I were emailing today and talked about how God has brought us together at just the right moment to help one another. So thankful!! Love you all!

    R

  5. julessuman says:

    So I was reading last night (can’t remember the name of the book…) and the author was using the story of this woman as an illustration to her point. She said that she would like to think that what Jesus was writing in the dirt was all of the things that this woman was in His eyes. Loved. Forgiven. Accepted. Worthy. In that moment he changed her life by showing her all that she could be in Him. I love this! I think we as women all need daily reminders of who we are in Jesus, because let’s be honest, most of us are way too hard on ourselves.

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