YOUTH SUNDAY SERMONS
March 11, 2018: Andrew Ayers
John 8:1-11 is a very plain passage with a simple meaning. Jesus just tells us to not be hypocritical and not to judge sinners because we are sinners too. I really don’t see a reason to talk about this story much more… *Laughter*. In reality, this passage is just opening the door to reasoning and thought that is hidden deep in it. At first glance I thought this passage was calling us to not judge and leave sinners alone. That’s what the elders did. They said nothing and walked away. I’m sure for us it would be easy to just walk away and say nothing. Jesus doesn’t just walk away. He stands with her until the last Pharisee leaves. He then says to her “where are they? Does no one condemn you?” She replies “no” and then Jesus says “neither do I”. I thought about this and I realized something. What did Jesus tell the Pharisees about throwing the stones?… He said “He who is without sin cast the first stone”. In essence he is saying if you are sinner then you cannot condemn another sinner. But, Jesus is perfect… he is without sin. Jesus spoke a lot, but most of the time his actions spoke louder than his words. He did not cast a stone even though (in his words) he was the only one qualified to do so. Jesus saved this woman’s life. She got a second chance. I am sure that she did not take it for granted.
In my life I find hard to not let first impressions be a factor in my perception of them. I find it hard sometimes to see people on a deep level. A level that takes a lot of conversations. Some of these conversations are hard. But the difficult conversations are the ones the reap the most reward because knowing a person and Knowing a person are very different. Jesus Knew this woman. He Knew that she was good and that she knew she made a mistake. What if every time you made a mistake someone stoned you. We wouldn’t be here.
I also think it’s interesting to think… Why do we condemn others? The Pharisees were obviously condemning this girl to test Jesus. They knew that adultery was punishable by stoning, and thought they had Jesus cornered. When asking him “what shall we do?” they expected one of two answers. They thought Jesus might say “Don’t stone her.” To which they would reply “But it is written in the law that adulterers must be stoned.” If Jesus didn’t say that they thought he might say “Stone her.” To which they would reply “ You mean to tell us to stone this poor girl??” Jesus knew what was going on and in his Jesus fashion he turned the whole situation around and pointed the finger at them. He made them see themselves and evaluate what they were doing. The Pharisees reason for condemnation is apparent, but the question still remains… Why do WE condemn? I first think we condemn because as humans we are selfish and self-fulfilling. As humans we feel better when we think we are above someone. We feel better knowing that we taught someone a lesson. It gives a sense of power and its only human nature to want power. Right?? Sometimes that might be the case… sometimes we condemn others out of hatred or jealousy. Sometimes we condemn others because that is the socially acceptable thing to do.
Does Jesus condemn this woman? I thought about this and even now I really don’t know. He says to her “from now on don’t sin”… but is that condemnation? I think condemnation has a negative connotation… CONDEMNATION *low bellowed voice*… I think the reason it carries negativity is because who wants to be told they did something wrong? I know that when I’m scolded at home I’m not thinking “My parents are doing this in my self interests… ?” I’m usually thinking other rebellious teenager things like “Mooooooommmmm”. I think that if we think of Jesus telling this woman not to sin as a positive thing I think it makes this story a little more meaningful. He wasn’t scolding her for sinning. He was inviting her into a new way of living, a second chance. He was telling her she was ok. She was forgiven. Jesus did this a lot in the Bible he even did it for me and all of you. Christ FORGIVES!
March 11, 2018: Bryan Ayers
When I read John 8:1-11, I wonder what it would like to be a bystander in the crowd. Jesus was teaching a crowd of people when he is interrupted by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. They brought forth a woman and told Jesus and the crowd that she had been caught in the act of adultery. Because of that, she should be stoned to death. What would I do? Would I have thought stoning the woman was the right thing to do? I hope not, but thankfully Jesus was there with his compassion, understanding and knowledge. He stopped it from happening. Jesus is here with us too.
Jesus has been there for me too throughout my life. Coming into the world wasn’t easy for me. First, I was forced to share a womb with my twin brother, Andrew. Then, during my mom’s labor, my heartbeat was lost completely. The nurse called a “Code Blue,” and she rushed us into the emergency delivery room so my brother and I could be delivered as quickly as possible. A team of doctors had us out in less than ten minutes. My brother was fine, but I was in critical condition. I was taken to Children’s and Woman’s Hospital where I recovered after a month in neonatal intensive care. I grew up knowing that it was a miracle that I lived through that ordeal. Jesus was there. Knowing that helps me to appreciate and understand that even though the odds in life may be stacked against me, anything in this world is possible. Jesus can stop stones.
Jesus has been there for me through my friends, family, and church. But there is one particular friend who reminds me of God’s presence. I can tell her anything and she responds to all of it. She does not miss a thing. It shows me that she is interested in all of what I say. I see her almost everyday and if I have any troubles, she helps me see the good in everything. She has a beautiful heart. She is there for me. She reminds me I am not alone, Jesus is there too. Because I can trust God, I can face my problems. No stone is too large for God. Joshua 1:9 says it a little differently than John, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I find comfort in these words and our Scripture from John. We are never alone. Jesus is there. We can rest and see the good. Amen.
March 11, 2018: Haley Harrell
At first glance one of the most prevalent passages of scripture can seem like the Netflix description of a modern day soap opera. A woman caught in the act of adultery, a place were the privileged escape unscathed and the less fortunate are punished, but at the very core of this passage is a very familiar place for all of us as Christians. This story is about a sinner who has been placed at the feet of our Lord. This is a place each and every one of us who is a follower of Christ has been and must go to truly understand and experience the promise of eternal life. John describes 2 voices that speak on our sins. I like to call those voices critics and Christ. The critics are the people around you who judge and condemn you for your sins, the people who make you guilt grow. The motives of the Pharisees were not to purify their society by ridding their town of a sinner, their intentions are to not only entrap a woman to destroy her life but to also to challenge Jesus by putting him between a rock and a hard place, literally. Then there is the voice of Christ, he sees thru the facade and recognizes the Pharisees are challenging him. he draws in the sand for hours trying to develop a way to address the situation in the most morally correct way that also obeys the laws of the Old Testament. Jesus tells them that “he who is without sin let him first cast a stone at her” one by one they put down their stones and left the adulteress at the feet of Jesus. It is in this moment that he emphasizes that no one can live a sinless life. When you yourself are at the feet of Christ, in contrast to your critics, he shows you mercy and gives you direction and the ability to learn from your mistakes. The stones we cast on the people around us can dramatically change their lives. In the past 4 years of high school I have lost 3 very close friends. All of which took their own lives because of the stones other people threw. If the peers of those 3 children reflected on the mercy god has shown them and put down their stones maybe they would still be here today. We all fall short from the glory, so when you are in situation where you begin to throw stones and place labels, reflect back on this story, reflect back on the times you have strayed from the kingdom but god has shown you mercy, because no guilt is to great for our god and no soul is too far gone.
March 11, 2018: Liam Harper
When I read this passage, a thought kept coming up. “The crowd put down their stones to pick up their rocks; Christians should set down their stones to pick up their rocks. Be each other’s rocks.”
I like to use symbolism for this saying. I say that rocks and stones are two different symbols; stones are our sins, while rocks are our faith. Rocks are our support system. As rocks we are called to lift people up. Stones, especially when thrown, bring people down and hurt them.
In this passage, the focus is on stones instead of rocks. But Jesus changes the focus. He stoops down and refuses to engage. Huddled on the ground, Jesus even kind of looks like a rock. Jesus turns the focus around to where it should be, on our rock and redeemer. Jesus was above the Pharisees and teachers of the law, all of whom should have known the law front and back, yet he stoops down.
We hear in the beginning that the Pharisees and teachers of the law brought the woman from this story in order to try to trap Jesus so they could accuse him of something. But they ignore the law. Given that they knew, or should have known about what the law said, their desire to trap Jesus makes them ignore the law. Ironic, right? The fact that they ignore what they knew to be right reminds me of a few situations in my life where others were against me, even those I once thought of as a friend.
I once was friends with a guy at my school. We can call him Matt. Matt was one of my first friends when I came to my current school. We got very close, or so I thought. I trusted him. Unfortunately, he turned on me in the end. Matt vented his problems to me during the first year I knew him, and I listened. I was there for him. But at the start of my sophomore year, I started to come to terms with the fact that the friendship we once had was done. Everything I did, Matt criticized and made fun of me for. And I let him for a time. I let Matt bully me, and I convinced myself it wasn’t as bad as it actually was. I kept hanging out with Matt, long after I should have cut ties. I kept trying to be his friend, because I thought he needed a friend, and I wasn’t going to let him be alone. This went on for the rest of that year.
In the beginning of my junior year, the relationship we had was the same—Matt kep saying mean and hurtful things. But then one day, I decided I had had enough. So I cut ties. It was a toxic relationship. Afterwards, I felt better about myself. I was happier. From his stones, I was made better by God, my Rock. God brought other rocks, other people in my life too. They became my rocks, as I am their’s.
To be Christian means to be Christ-like. We can never fully measure up to Jesus, and can never repay our debt to him. God won’t put us in any situation he knows we can’t overcome. He loves us.
Jesus’ reply intrigues me. He bent down and wrote on the ground. He is hunched over, rounded out, kind of like a rock. We don’t know what he wrote, but it must have been effective, because all the accusers left after Jesus’ reply. Jesus knows our hearts and minds. He knows us in our entirety, and he still loves us. He is our Rock. So let us go out and be each other’s rocks, strong, steady, and full of love. Amen.