Kevin Cowan - Woman Taken in Adultery - Wattamondera, Australia - 2013

In John 8:1, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and early in the morning, He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him, and He sat down, and taught them. “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery, and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, 'Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned, but what sayest Thou?' This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him, but Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.”


A few years ago when I looked at the speaking list at one of the Conventions back home in Canada, I found that I was to be speaking in the last meeting. By the time the last meeting comes along it is easy to feel, “What more can be said? Everything that needs to be said has been said.” Sometimes the last meeting is not the easiest to prepare for, and not the easiest to have a part in. I was in the Brothers’ quarters that day trying to get ready for the meeting, and all the other Brothers had already spoken and they were in another room just on the other side of the wall from where I was and they were laughing and talking and enjoying each other’s company and I wished that I was with them.


You know that there is only one way to get ready for a meeting, isn’t there? Like one of our old brothers in Canada said one time when he stood up in front of the microphone, before an audience, he said, “You know folks, these messages don’t grow on trees.” We understand that. What I realised that afternoon, is that if I was going to have something for the meeting I needed to leave good company and seek better company. Maybe there will be some times this year when you will have a meeting to think about either Sunday morning or a midweek meeting and maybe there are a lot of things going on, a lot of people you want to see, but the wisest thing is going to be for you to leave good company and seek better company, for that is how we get ready for meetings.


Here is Jesus and He is in the temple and He’s got this group of people gathered around Him that want to hear, and I just have a feeling that Jesus had a thrill in His heart because this group of people were not there to trip Him up in His words, they were not there to be healed, they were not there to see Him perform a miracle, they were not there hoping that He would provide some bread and fishes, but they were there to hear. Jesus was sitting down and perhaps the people were also sitting down listening to Him when all of a sudden there is a commotion, and here comes another group, here come the scribes and Pharisees who are bringing this woman and they come right in there where Jesus is, and they interrupted Him.


Jesus stops talking and here they brought this woman to Jesus and they start spilling out the story, and they say, “Moses says she should be stoned, but what do you say?” They asked Him a question so they are standing there and they are looking at Jesus waiting for an answer. There are all these people that He has been talking to and they are just watching all this, watching the scribes and Pharisees, and they are watching this woman and they are watching Jesus to see what is going to happen. Something is going to happen here so everybody is watching Jesus. What He is going to do?


I will just put that on pause for a moment and go back a page in John chapter 7 for there is a background there to this story John 7:22, “Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.” You will remember that the Jews were commanded by God to keep some feasts through the year, feasts that commemorated different things, and this was the time of year when it was the feast of tabernacles. This feast also had a second name, it was called the "feast of in-gathering" and this was a special feast because it was the most joyful of all the feasts that the children of Israel would keep.


There are two things that it commemorated: the feast of in-gathering. First, that it was the time when the harvest was all brought in, the harvest is finished and that is a reason for rejoicing, so they called it the feast of in-gathering. It is also called the "feast of tabernacles," and if you want to know the details of it to know what the people had to do at this feast of tabernacles, we find it in the Old Testament in Leviticus 23:40, “And ye shall take you on the first day, the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 'Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths, that your generations might know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I am the LORD your God.'”


They had to take the branches off the trees to make these booths or tabernacles to dwell in. So they would have to move out of their houses and this feast lasted for eight days and they would have to dwell in these booths and it was to help them to remember that wilderness journey that God brought His people through. I am not really sure what the Lord had in mind, what this feast symbolised, but you know what I think? It reminds me of eternity. I think of the rejoicing that will be in the hearts of God’s people in eternity, as they think back over the wilderness journey, how God has kept them and also as they consider that the harvest has been ail gathered in, the spiritual harvest has been gathered in and, “I am a part of it.”


I think that those two things will give God’s people an incredible amount of joy in eternity, for those were two things that this feast was to commemorate. There were a lot of sacrifices that had to be made during the days of this feast during the eight days that it took place. There was to be a burnt offering every day and there were several animals that were to be slain that made up this burnt offering. During the eight days, there were to be seventy-one bullocks, fifteen rams, a hundred and five lambs and eight goats that were sacrificed during the feast and over and above that, the daily morning and evening sacrifices.


On the first day of the feast, there were to be thirteen bullocks slain plus two rams and fourteen lambs. That was just the burnt offering and then separate from that one goat which was the sin offering. The second day of the feast there was one less bullock: twelve bullocks, two rams fourteen lambs then separate and by itself a goat for the sin offering. It went like that all through the week with one less bullock and every day in the midst of all that rejoicing, separate and by itself, a sin offering of a goat.


I think of the message that is coming from the sin offering that is in the midst of all that rejoicing and all that fresh purpose of the burnt offering, here is the sin offering that was reminding all of their sin. Maybe it was reminding them that there was something they needed to deal with that, “to deal with my sin, there is something I need to repent of.” I wonder if there were some that didn’t appreciate how the sin offering spoiled the good times that they were having at the feast, and I wonder if one of the reasons the world is not interested in the Gospel any more is because it spoils the good times that they are having, because it causes them and turns them to their own sin and the change that needs to be made in their experience, so they don’t like the Gospel.


I wonder if there were some who resented the sin offering because it spoiled their fun, because it spoiled the good time. Now if they had dealt with their sin and all their sin had been forgiven and then they saw the sin offering, it would just add to their rejoicing wouldn’t it? All the sins have been taken care of but it is only if the sin offering was condemning them, because they had not dealt with their sin, that it was hard for them to take. In the beginning of John 7, the Jews’ feast of tabernacles is at hand and Jesus is with His brethren. John 7:3, “His brethren therefore said unto Him, 'Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest, for there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and He Himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, shew Thyself to the world, for neither did His brethren believe in Him. The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.'” Why did the world hate Jesus? It was because He was the sin offering and His very presence and His very words condemned them and reminded them of their sin and spoiled the good time they were having. If you read further, you will see that Jesus went down to that feast of tabernacles secretly, as His brethren did not believe in Him and the people were murmuring among themselves saying that He deceives everybody. There were a group of them that wanted to take Him and there was another group who sent officers to take Him, they wanted to get Him out of the picture because He is spoiling their fun.


 John 7:37, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.'” All through the days of that feast, there had been the sin offering giving its message, this message to repent, just reminding them of their sin, condemning them of their sin, showing them things that needed to change and maybe just trying to remind them that, “You will never be a part of that spiritual harvest in eternity if you do not begin with your sin. You will never be gathered in and God will never be able to keep you in the wilderness journey if you don’t look after your sin and deal with that and turn from it and repent,” and that is the message every day of the sin offering that is given.


So now on the last day of the feast, Jesus the sin bearer cries and it says He cried with a loud voice, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.” It is just like Jesus is trying to get the message through to them which they failed to get from the sin offering, and it is like Jesus is saying, “If there anyone that has an inward dryness, if there is anyone here thirsting, anyone that has inward need that needs to be met, the forgiveness of sin, if so, come unto Me for I have got the answer. I have the living water that will quench your thirst and meet your need.”


That was the last day of the feast so they did not need to worry about that feast for another year. We read of Jesus then that night. He went to the Mount of Olives and that is where Jesus spent the night. Then early in the morning, He comes back again to the Temple and here is a group of people that have come to hear Him. These people, maybe they had heard Him say, “If any man thirst, let him come up to Me and drink.” These are not like the Pharisees, these are not like the ones that are wanting to get rid of the sin offering that is just condemning them. We know that they are the ones that want to hear Jesus, “Please give us that water that is going to quench our thirst.” There they are, just wanting pure water. “Pour out more and more of what you have to tell us that is going to quench our thirst.”


So now along come the Pharisees with this woman and they asked this question, “Now Moses said in the Law that she should die,” but they turned to Jesus and said, “What do You say now?” Who are they asking? They are asking the sin bearer this question; they say this woman needs to die and it just helps me to understand why Jesus did not say anything. Jesus stooped down and with His finger, wrote on the ground. I don’t know what He was writing or if He was writing anything. Can you imagine what was going through Jesus’ mind? Can you imagine Jesus’ thoughts when they asked Him this, “Does this woman need to die?" Jesus is saying, “She does not need to die for I am the sin bearer. She does not need to die.” I just wonder if Jesus maybe wasn’t as worried about the woman as He was about the people of God, all these people who had been through the eight days of the feast in the presence of the sin offering and they had not got the message. Here is Jesus now, so what does He do? They keep asking Him and finally Jesus rose up and He says, “Him that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” and then He stooped down and wrote on the ground.


Then it says they that heard it being convicted by their own conscience and went out one by one beginning at the eldest unto the last and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst. It seems to me that at last they were getting the message, at last they are beginning to think about their sin and beginning with the eldest they are starting to leave and they are starting to say, “I don’t have any place here. I should not be here.” When they are all gone, Jesus is left alone with the woman. So here is Jesus with the woman and this first group that Jesus was talking to till then and what does Jesus say to the woman? “Where are thine accusers, has no man condemned thee?” She says, “No man, Lord,” and Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”

That is something that the sin bearer and only the sin bearer could say, “I don’t condemn you, just go and sin no more. You have been released from that.” I will just tell you one of my favourite verses in the Bible. It is to me one of the most beautiful pictures that we can find. John 1.29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'” John looks up and sees Jesus and it seems to me that he just blurts this out, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” It almost seems as though he cannot help himself, he is so thrilled to see Jesus, but the thing that I really like, it says John sees Jesus coming unto him.


He saw the Lamb of God and He is coming right to John, the Lamb of God with all his provision for forgiveness, cleansing, mercy, grace and help, “all coming right to me.” Have you ever seen that picture in your own experience? Have you ever looked up and seen the Lamb of God coming unto you with all His provision, cleansing, forgiveness, and mercy? Have you ever seen that, and if you haven’t, you will not be able to enter into what I am saying, for it is one of the most beautiful pictures I know.


How do you think this woman felt standing before Jesus with all His provision, cleansing and forgiveness and He says, “I am not going to condemn you. You just go and you do not do what you have done before. You go and live differently now and it will go well with you.” Then we have the second time that John looked up. John 1:36, “And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God.'” The second time, it does not say that Jesus was coming to him, so it sounds to me as though he looked up and he saw Jesus walking past, and He was going to someone else. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have that very same thrill in our hearts to see the Lamb of God with all His provision of cleansing and forgiveness going to someone else, to a Brother or to a Sister. It is just as big a thrill as we see Him coming unto us.


This is what these old scribes and Pharisees failed to see. All they saw was the sin, the sin in someone else. John 8:12, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'” Do you know what that woman’s problem was? Do you know why she ran into difficulties? Do you know why she sinned as she did? It was because she was walking in darkness; she wasn’t walking in the light. She was walking in the darkness of loneliness and in the darkness of the weakness of the flesh, and had she been following Jesus in the light, it may not have happened.


It just seems to me, that when Jesus turned back to this group of people, and saying these words, there is still a connection with this woman and now He is just telling this group, “You just walk in the light. You just follow Me. Don’t walk in darkness, you just walk in the light and things will go better for you.” So are we not thankful for this sin bearer and aren’t we thankful for times when we get the message from the sin bearer, and even though it is not very easy to take sometimes when we are reminded of our sin, yet we must deal with our sin. We want to keep short accounts with God. We want to be up to date with our repenting and when our sin is taken care of then, when we see the sin bearer, we see Jesus, and we don’t feel condemned, but we rejoice because of Him.