We began our Lenten series with the story of the woman caught in adultery who was used as a pawn in the Jewish leaders' attempt to entrap Jesus (see John 8:1-11). Once Jesus got rid of the crowd of accusers, the woman had her opportunity to meet Jesus face to face. She recognizes him as "Master" and Jesus forgives her, freeing her to live a new life. That's hardly how the woman probably imagined the day ending--from standing in front of a crowd, humiliated, reputation ruined, and facing a death sentence, to being forgiven by Jesus. When Jesus looked at the woman--and when he looks at us--he sees the potential in our lives despite the stains of sin. He offers us freedom and a new life in Him if we confess our sins and accept his forgiveness. Jeff Stueve told the stories of two men convicted of murder in the 1800s at the beginning and end of the message. Google "John Bridges, Jr." and "United States vs. [George] Wilson" to find out how differently their stories ended--and what their experiences with forgiveness and pardon can teach us. *Click here to see the reflection questions we used during the service.
[The legal experts and Pharisees] continued to question [Jesus], so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders.
John 8:7-9 CEB