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The Transformation Tandem

Sermon Series:

It Had To Be Said

Main Passage:
John 8:2-11


Thanks so much. Really good to be with you this morning. In our house, we have a somewhat large clock that hangs over the stairwell down into our basement. And I like the clock. It's not an extravagant clock. It's a fairly simple clock, but again, it's big enough that from anywhere out in the front part of our house, you can see what time it is. Except for the fact that for the last two months or so, the hands on that clock have not moved one time.

They just are where they are. And that's a little frustrating, but it's relatively easy to get to the clock. But when you have to put the clock back up, it's a little bit of a like, take your life in your own hands experience.

And so the clock has stayed there. Now at the same time that we have the clock on the wall that is not telling us what time it is, we also in the house, we have the batteries that that clock needs. We don't have to go anywhere to get them.

We don't have to place an Amazon order, anything like that. We have them. In fact, we have plenty of them. So we have this clock and it's on the wall. It would like to do its thing, but it can't do its thing. We have these batteries that have more than enough power to power the clock so that we can actually tell what time it is. They should be together, but we, for all sorts of reasons, we, for now, have left them separate. So neither one of them is doing what it was made to do. Neither one of them, the clock or the batteries, is functioning how they were designed to function. And it's easy to think about when you think about, okay, that's a clock and it's some batteries. But there are a lot of pieces and parts of life. There are even a lot of elements of our spiritual life, our life with Jesus, that really need to go together. And oftentimes we unintentionally pull them apart. And so we don't experience the full effectiveness or power of either one of them. Or sometimes maybe it's just the culture that causes us to gradually pull them apart a little bit.

And much like if we could just get the clock down, put the batteries in it, put it back up, the batteries would be serving their purpose and the clock would be serving its purpose and everything would be better. If we can combine some things that we often separate, our life could be a little better. It could be a little more like Jesus invited us to experience. And so this morning, in the minutes that we get to share together, I want to invite you to a passage of the scriptures. It's in the Gospel of John, the Gospel of John, chapter 8. So if you're going to turn a Bible there, if you're going to scroll somewhere to get there, that's great.

While you're turning there, I do want to just say thank you for the opportunity to be with you. Really grateful. My wife, Erica, and I have been here all morning, have enjoyed the morning, and thanks for your kindness and hospitality. We have twin daughters that are 19.

They're both home from college for the summer. They're both serving a journey today, so they're not here with us, but we are really grateful to be here. I want you to know I love your pastor. You probably know this part, but you are a very fortunate church. You have a great pastor.

You have great pastors, great staff, absolutely incredible. And I love your pastor. I love being here. Love you and what you're doing to move the gospel and the mission of Jesus forward. I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful for that. And I also just want to say, man, I'm encouraged by the fact that you are a place that is remarkably supportive of your pastor, getting a sabbatical, getting a little bit of a chance to just refresh and be rejuvenated. The absolute guarantee of that is that he'll be better. You'll be better. He'll be better. You'll be better. And so thank you for believing in that and just investing in that, creating that pocket in that space. And so I'm really grateful to be here for today. And I'm grateful to be here to offer some expression of help to him in that time as well. John chapter eight is where we're going to be today. We're going to start in verse two. Here's here's the word of God describing a moment in the life of Jesus.

John 8:2-11

2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 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.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, thank you for the perfection of your life, the perfection of your righteousness and your holiness. Thank you for the perfection of salvation in your ministry. Thank you for in moments like we're reading about and encountering today for how you, with such wisdom, navigate difficult moments. Thank you for the power of your word. Thank you that it still is alive and active, that it has life and breath, and that even today in our moments together, it can correct us, it can teach us, it can rebuke us, it can ultimately make us wise to salvation. Thank you for that kind of life-giving power. So we yield ourselves to you and to the truth of the scripture you bring us today. In Jesus name, amen. Amen, church.

So those of you in the room, to those of you in other venues and those of you online, we've got we're standing in the middle of a unique little passage here from with Jesus. And you saw it right there. You see these Pharisees and these scribes and they they want to test Jesus. Ultimately, what they're doing is they are trying to set a trap for Jesus.

They bring this woman who is caught in adultery, and they present some options to Jesus. And they say, Jesus, here's what the law says. The law says that we're supposed to stone her. That's what the law of Moses says. And Jesus, maybe that's what you should do, because if you don't do that, Jesus, you're being fairly hypocritical right like Jesus if you if you if you stone her what are you gonna say about all of the sinners you eat with what are you gonna say about all the prostitutes and tax collectors who are extorting from people what are you gonna say about all your time invested with them Jesus so really I mean you think you should stone her?

But on the other hand, Jesus, how are you just gonna let her walk away? I mean, we caught her in sin, and she's not even standing here denying it. So Jesus, how, you can't just let her walk away, right? And so they're trying to pin Jesus into this lose-lose moment. Hey, Jesus, if you stone her, we're going to call you a hypocrite. That's going to ruin the ministry. Jesus, if you let her just go, we're going to say you don't really care about righteousness and holiness and God-likeness. So we're going to ruin you either way. And I wonder if Jesus, in the moment, chuckles a little, maybe he smirks, and just looks at those guys and says, really, we're gonna do this again?

This isn't the first time they try and trap Jesus. It's not the last time they'll try and trap Jesus. They're not very good at it. Jesus, you know, maybe just has this moment. He says, okay, I guess we're gonna do this again. And they make this push from Jesus.

Really the trap is to try and say hey Jesus you're gonna have to pick Grace or truth you're gonna have to choose grace. Let her go and don't acknowledge sinner. You're gonna have to pick truth You have to stone her Jesus you can't can't really do that, right So Jesus confronted with this tension And it's helpful for us to understand that we also, like today, we're still confronted with this tension.

We still face the same test. We still live in a time where the same trap is being set for us. You're gonna respond with grace or you're gonna respond with truth. And at the end of this little moment,

at the end of this little moment, Jesus masterfully, with perfect wisdom, responds with both. He says, you want me to pick? Watch this. I'll respond with both. And he says, hey, I'm not going to condemn you. It sounds a lot like grace.

But he also says, now, from this point forward, go. Don't sin anymore. Go live differently. Go be different. Go experience a different life.

Sounds a lot like truth. Go and sin no more. They want Jesus to pick. You at moments in your life, me at moments in my life, we have moments where somebody wants us to pick or a group or an organization wants us to pick and Jesus stands up in the middle of all of that fray and says, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Grace and truth go together. Grace and truth go together.

If you leave them separated like the clock and the batteries, neither one of them really functions the way it was designed to function. Grace and truth go together, and because they go together, there's significant risk if we try and pull them apart. Let me just, in a few minutes just share some of them with you. At first, just some risk of living with all grace but no truth. And the first, maybe it's obvious. When there's all grace and no truth, it feels a little bit like it just gives permission to sin.

Just keep sinning. Just go do your thing. You go do what you think is right for you. And again, nobody in the passage is denying the sin. The woman doesn't try and say, I didn't sin. Jesus doesn't try and say, she didn't sin.

It's not just the scribes and Pharisees. Everybody is acknowledging the sin. And if it's only grace, I don't condemn you either. Hey, it's fine. I don't condemn you either. That could come across as like, hey, permission, just keep going, do whatever you want. Right, I mean, just go ahead. Just do your thing. It's like, well, that doesn't sound very Jesus like right so that feels a little void, but but here's the other thing it's When we have all grace like that It's really void of any hope. When it's all grace and no truth It's really void of hope because What if this what if this woman wants to change What if she wants a pattern in her life to be broken? What if she wants something in her that's dead to come to life? What if she wants to live a new way?

Grace alone simply says, Hey, we'll just kind of forget about that. But grace alone, grace alone doesn't paint the path forward. Grace alone doesn't necessarily point how it is we would go live any differently. Grace alone can feel compassionate, but sometimes it's actually mean. So Jesus, again, masterfully gives, he gives both. It's grace and truth. And not only does it leave us void of hope, not only does it feel like sometimes it's permission to sin, but it is a pattern of culture.

It's a pattern of this culture that we're reading about in the scriptures, and it's a pattern of our culture today. There are some predominant patterns, some predominant courses and forces of life, and one of them in our culture is to be all grace, to be all agreement with all things which leads us to these places we find ourselves encountered with with expressions like look if if you don't agree with me, you don't love me and to disagree with me would be to hate me and Nobody signed up to like hate other people and so we find ourselves really caught in this tension of wait a second. Wait a second I'm only allowed to express grace. I'm only allowed to say, that's okay.

I'm only allowed to look the other way. I'm only allowed to say, I don't condemn you. That's one of the options they give Jesus. And they didn't create that option out of thin air. It's a pattern of culture.

And it doesn't take long for us to see that's a pattern of the culture in which we live now. A couple thousand years later, here's the words of Jesus with all of this direction and all of this guidance to us. His word really being, right?

A lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path as we walk in difficult moments. It's this pattern of the culture. Say, oh, I don't really like the all grace option. That doesn't sound very encouraging. Let me be a person of truth, but there's also some risk if we're truth only and no grace. Again, if we separate the two that Jesus put together, truth alone can be potentially abusive. Truth alone can be potentially abusive. A truth, truth can be a gift, it can be great, but there are certain truths we can grab ahold of.

We can grab ahold of some factual truth and it can become the weapon and the abuser. The Jewish people, they know that really well. They lived for hundreds of years, generations, in slavery to Egypt. And the reason was because the truth of the matter was Egypt was more powerful. Egypt was stronger. Egypt had more military might. Egypt just had the power. Now they could have used the power to be kind, to keep working together, right? But they chose to take what was really true.

They had all the power. And they used that truth to enslave and to beat down and to diminish. Even now in this moment with Jesus, like the Jewish people, the Israelites are in it again. They're under the thumb of Rome and yeah, they've got some freedoms, but Rome's ultimately the most powerful. Rome's calling the shots. Rome has the greatest power. The truth of the matter is they use the truth, just the facts. They had the power.

And at times, persecuted followers of Jesus. Sometimes killed them for sport, for entertainment value. You can take a truth, you realize a truth about something, something that is true, and it can become abusive. Truth alone can have a very jagged edge. Truth alone can be cutting in a harmful way.

Jesus, like if Jesus had only said, right, hey, hey, don't go sinning anymore. Yeah, but how?

Hey, don't go sinning anymore. Yeah, but how? What do I do with that? Even if I wanted to, what do I do with that? Which is why it's not only potentially abuse of the times, but it, just like grace without truth, truth without grace is void of hope. It's void of hope. Hope is like this confident expectation that there's something in front of us, like there's somewhere we could go, there's a good coming, there's a good that's possible. And when we offer only truth, when we only point out the wrong, we're not really instilling the hope of what can be. The truth needs a grace to give us a hope that we can actually win. The truth needs a grace to compel us forward. If I say to you, you're a liar,

which I'm not, I know I was looking at you, I didn't mean to, but I'm not. But if I say you're a liar, and even if that's true, but I paint no way for the relationship to be restored, if I offer no expression of graciousness so that there's a hope that something could be rebuilt, that a trust could be restored, the truth by itself can leave us void of any hope. What if Jesus had only said, just don't go sin anymore?

And truth alone is also, it's a lot like grace without truth. If you take the truth without the grace, which means you got to almost diminish sin, or you've got to choose all truth, which means you have to stone her. Like we, we live in the same tension, like, Hey, all grace, all grace, you have to accept me for everything. You have to accept this for everything you have to, or all, all truth, just direct truth, truth without grace, truth without love, truth without right, which can be just as damaging, but it is a pattern of the culture in which we live. And when things get chaotic, and that's the test that we live in, grace or truth, most of us tend to lean one way or the other. Most of us are left to ourselves and our own devices. We lean one way or the other.

And we might pull back in moments like this and say, yeah, but what about just just a few paragraphs later, Jesus is going to say to some of these people, hey, look, what I really want is for you to know the truth and the truth will set you free. But what's the truth that Jesus is talking about in that moment? What Jesus is painting a picture of is salvation. It's the gift of salvation.

It's the gift of forgiveness, of restored relationship with Him, of being united with the God who made us. And what does salvation always include? Grace. There is no salvation without grace. None of us have climbed our way to God. None of us have fought our way into a right relationship with God. It comes by grace. Jesus says, I want you, if you would know the truth, like, and the truth includes my grace, you could actually be set free.

And so in this encounter with this woman, like Jesus has been told he has to offer one of the other. And by the end of it, everybody's gone, right? Because their attempt to trap has failed again. And it's Jesus and this woman. And he says, look, I know what they wanted me to do, but I'm gonna offer you grace. I'm not gonna condemn you, but I'm also gonna offer you truth. Receive the grace and go. And when you go, don't sin anymore. Be different.

Be different. And in life with Jesus, he's always inviting us to something very different than what's happening around us and something so much better than what's happening around us.

Now let's just absorb the story from a slightly different angle for a second. Because those words of Jesus, they had to be said. They changed this woman's life and they're still words that we need. They still help us navigate complex and divisive periods of culture like we're living in now.

But if we pull back just a little, and let's enter the story from a little different perspective, and just for a moment, maybe see Jesus' face and get a sense of his tone. And again, maybe when the Pharisees and scribes first set the trap.

Maybe there really is, maybe there is a smirk in Jesus. Maybe there's a chuckle, maybe there's a shaking of the head.

He knows what's coming, he knows once again, he's got the wisdom to navigate this. But then think about the, think about this woman just for a minute. When you read the story, you hear it, do you ever find yourself wondering when did she first feel or experience some form of grace? When did she first experience some sense of hope? When did she first start to actually encounter the truth? And maybe, just maybe, maybe it was before Jesus spoke to her, and maybe it was when Jesus knelt down and he started to write in the sand. And for a couple thousand years, some of the greatest scholars had been trying to figure out what Jesus wrote.

I got nothing for you. But I don't think it matters. Because when Jesus is down there, and He's doing something, He's writing something that's messing with these religious leaders, and in that moment we can forget about this woman for a minute, but in that moment, she's experiencing the grace and truth of somebody being on her side.

She's experiencing the grace and truth of somebody advocating for her. She's experiencing the grace and truth of somebody defending her, somebody believing in her, somebody, somebody, somebody loving her, seeing enough value in her that they would step into the gap for her. And so when Jesus stands up and he says to her, is there anybody left?

And she says, there's not anybody here anymore. And Jesus says, that's great. Just like they're gone, I don't condemn you either. And she experiences, she hears the words of grace that she is also seeing. And then he says, now go and sin no more.

And she has the hope that comes with knowing, wait a second, the person who is not condemning me is biting me into something more. And I need this not to be condemned in order to live them more. And I need to live them more in order to make the not condemned worth it. And so she's both seen it and felt it and now she's heard it and it's this marriage of grace and truth, it's the clock getting the batteries. So everything gets to do what it was intended to do. Now if you just pull back for a second.

We've kind of entered the story from a couple angles. Just pull back from the story for a second. You ever read the scripture and just for a moment play counterfactual history? And just ask, like what happens, what happens if Jesus doesn't offer both? What happens?

What happens if Jesus only offers grace? Again, maybe she goes on and maybe she recovers, but there's no hope of what can be, there's no direction, there's no future. It's like, okay, I guess this is what I'm doing. I don't know how my life can be any different. I'm really glad that he didn't allow them to stone me that day and that he didn't stone me, but I don't, I don't sin anymore. And maybe she tries. Picture her life the next three or four years and maybe she tries. But do you know how hard it is to obey Jesus without the power that comes from grace?

Maybe she tries for three or four years, but there would be all this guilt and all this weight of failure and all this shame that comes with it, and boy, doesn't it feel like it would be easy to just go back to what she was doing before? See, she needs both, because when we put grace and truth together in a package, when we resist the temptation, the tension, and the test of the trap of the culture to separate them. When we put them together, what we see is that grace and truth are really the power of transformation. Grace and truth together are the power of transformation.

I don't condemn you, but please, let's go live differently. I don't condemn you, but please, please, let's go live with the hope that there's more and that there's a better way and there's something that's different.

It's power of transformation. So today, a couple thousand years later, I'm really glad this moment with Jesus is recorded. In this moment, I mean, this is one of those statements. It's two phrases that make one sentence. I don't condemn you, go and sin no more. They had to be said. It's the only way out of that moment. I don't condemn you, go and sin no more. They had to be said, it's the only way out of that moment. But it's grace-filled truth. It's grace and truth together. They had to be said.

It's still today, it needs to be said to us. It needs to be said to us. So let me just, let me leave you with a couple questions. First question, really simply this.

Who in your life right now, who in your life, friend, family member, family members, a group, colleagues, whatever it is. Who in your life really needs an expression of grace and truth from you? Who in your life needs an expression of truth and grace? Who is it in your life that maybe has gotten one and not the other? Who is it that maybe has lived with you leaning one direction or the other? It's okay, like, let's just acknowledge that most of us have a tendency to lean one way

or the other in this truth-grace continuum. That you'd love them to know that Jesus, or experience that Jesus, Jesus of grace and truth. And then, if we turn a little more introspectively, where is it that maybe you, no matter how long you've been following Jesus, whether it's been an hour or so, or whether it's meant several decades. Where is it that maybe you, you need an expression

or maybe a fresh expression of Jesus grace and truth in your life? Where's the area of life or the action in your life or the habit in your life where you've received lots of grace but not really acknowledged truth?

Not really acknowledged that Jesus is actually calling you to something different. Where's the peace of life where maybe you've grabbed ahold of the truth, but that's really led to weighting you down and beating you up because you haven't also taken the grace with the truth.

It's the tandem that creates transformation. It's both of them together that brings the transformation. And Jesus, from a culture that was constantly pushing people to the edges of this continuum, says in that moment and says still today, hey, hey, hey, hey, the best way forward is grace and truth. It's truth and grace.

Let me pray for you.

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