John 8:1-11. 927
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered; and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him; but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Let me ask you a question. What is the major theme – the main point of this story? Is it that we shouldn’t commit adultery? Or maybe we shouldn’t get caught? Are the accusing Pharisees and teachers of the law the main point? They kept demanding an answer; they kept accusing… Maybe the theme is repentance. Or Is the main theme the law?
“What do you say?”
When we gather to celebrate Communion, We gather to remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. You may be wondering what in the world does this story have to do with communion? But when we gather to celebrate communion, We gather for another reason too; we gather to receive grace.
To me the main theme of this story is grace.
and grace received.
This women was caught in the very act of adultery.
You know most of us try to hide our sins. What we do were not proud of. We don’t proclaim our sins from the house tops; we don’t post them on facebook (at least most of us don’t); we aren’t holding a press conference. In fact we’re embarrassed by our sins. We’re filled with shame by them.
Can we imagine how this women must have felt? She was dragged from the very bed. She was brought into the temple area. Her sins were proclaimed for all to see. And, the truth is it wasn’t even really about her or her sins. She was a pawn to her accusers. She was a move on the chessboard.
Let me ask, did she deserve grace?
Certainly not according to the law. She was caught red-handed. She was guilty. She broke the law. According to the law, She deserved just what was happening to her. According to the law she should be stoned to death. The law is very blunt here – she deserves to die.
What about you and I? Do we deserve grace?
We’re weird sometimes. We don’t want grace for others; but we want it for ourselves. We often act like the Pharisees; but we’re really the woman.
None of us deserve grace. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Or as Solomon put it, “For there is no one who does not sin.” We are all guilty. We all stand before Jesus, who is the judge of all the earth, guilty. There is no one who deserves grace.
And yet, what we see here is Grace Given. It is undeserved; but given anyway. Jesus tells her, “neither do I condemn you.” Paul tells us in Romans, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It’s the same with Barabbas. Here is a criminal deserving of death. He is in prison for rebellion and murder. Yet Grace is given to him. Jesus takes his place. He’s set free!
You may wonder what does this story have to do with communion? But right here, where Jesus says “neither do I condemn you” is where it has everything to do with communion because communion is grace given.
Communion is the offering of undeserved grace to us.
It is the Covenant of Grace.
It is Jesus on the cross dying undeservingly for our sins. It is him being beaten for our rebellion. It is the Father hiding His face from His Son for us.
Communion is celebration, and remembrance, of what God has done for us in Christ. It is the offering of a new covenant – a new agreement – between God and man. But it is a one sided covenant – God gives grace. He did all the work. He paid the full price. He provided the sacrifice. He poured out the blood.
In communion the minister offers you grace in the name of Jesus Christ. He offers you the broken body of Christ in the bread. He offers you the blood, which seals the covenant. These are symbols of the grace given to us by God. They cry out to us, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
But you know what else communion is – it is grace received. It is receiving the grace, the forgiveness of sins, the undeserved mercy God has offered. You see Jesus died for us; but we have a part to play. We must believe in The Lord Jesus Christ. We must receive the grace freely given.
Communion is receiving the body of Christ in us. It is receiving the blood of Christ in us. It is receiving the Holy Spirit, the life of Christ in us. It is accepting the covenant God has given to us.
When we accept the body and the cup we are doing this, not only as a means of remembrance; but as a means of grace. It is in communion that God really ministers grace to us. It is a channel of God’s grace. It is like a stream of living water flowing into your life and transforming you into the image of Christ.
So the next time you begin to take communion stop and think about how it is grace undeserved. Think, as we pass out the bread and the cup, how it really is grace given. And as you eat the bread, the body of Christ; and as you drink the cup, the blood of Christ, how this is grace received.