Early in the morning He went back into the temple courts. All the people came to Him, and He sat down to teach them.
I. HERE IS A REPRESENTATION OF THE SINFUL SOCIETY IN WHICH THE SAVIOUR DEIGNED TO MIX. The scene was the temple; the company gathered together were composed of those who wished to hear Jesus discourse, the motive of some being good, and that of others evil; the centre of the group was the Prophet of Nazareth, who claimed to be the world's Light and Salvation. The audience and the Speaker were interrupted by an incident which, however, afforded a remarkable opportunity for most characteristic and memorable teaching on the part of our Divine Lord.
1. We see a picture of human frailty. As the poor, trembling, shame-stricken woman was dragged into the temple precincts, she furnished a sad instance of the moral weakness of humanity. For although her seducer was probably a hundredfold guiltier than she, it cannot be questioned that the adulteress was to blame, as having infringed both Divine and human laws.
2. We see a picture of human censoriousness. Sinful though the woman was, it does not seem that those who were so anxious to overwhelm her with disgrace were impelled by a sense of duty. They seem to have been of those who delight in another's sin, who, instead of covering a fault, love to drag it into the light.
3. We see a picture of human malice. They sought to entrap Jesus into some utterance which might serve as a charge against him. It was impelled by this motive that they referred the case of the adulteress to him, who came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it. Their concern for the public morals was trifling when compared with their malignant hatred of him who was morality incarnate.
II. HERE IS A REPRESENTATION OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SAVIOUR DEALT WITH HUMAN SIN.
1. He convinced the morally hardened and insensible, arousing their conscience, and compelling them to admit their own sinfulness. If the cunning of the Pharisees was great, the wisdom of the Saviour was greater still. He confounded their plot, and turned their weapons against themselves. Their own consciences witnessed against those who had been so anxious to condemn a fellow sinner.
2. He pardoned the penitent offender. The woman could not but feel how heinous had been her transgression, and in bow black colours it appeared to all who considered it aright. And all we know of Jesus assures us that he would never have forgiven, and dismissed in peace, one insensible of sin. She sorrowed over her fault; the presence of the pure and perfect Jesus was itself a rebuke and reproach to her, while his demeanour and language awakened her gratitude and restored her hopes, if not her self-respect.
3. He condemned and guarded against a repetition of the sin, in the admonition he pointedly addressed to her as she left him, "Sin no more." - T.
And early in the morning He came again unto the Temple.ἱερόν and ναός, but there is a very real distinction between the two, and one the marking of which would often add much to the clearness and precision of the sacred narrative. Ἱερόν ( = templum) is the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, the τέμενος, including the outer courts, the porches, porticoes, and other buildings subordinated to the Temple itself. But ναος ( = aedes), from ναίω, habito, as the proper habitation of God (Acts 7:48; Acts 17:24; 1 Corinthians 6:19): the οἶκος το θεοῦ (Matthew 12:4; cf. Exodus 23:19) is the Temple itself, that by especial right so called, being the heart and centre of the whole; the Holy, and the Holy of Holies, called often ἀγίασμα. (1 Macc. 1:37 1 Macc. 3:45). This distinction, one that existed and was acknowledged in profane Greek, and with reference to heathen temples, quite as much as in sacred Greek, and with relation to the Temple of the true God (see Herodotus 1:181-3; Thucydides 5:18; Acts 19:24-27) is, I believe, always assumed in all passages relating to the Temple at Jerusalem, alike by Josephus, by Philo, by the translators, and in the New Testament...The distinction may be brought to bear with advantage on several passages in the New Testament. When Zacharias entered "into the Temple of the Lord" to burn incense, the people who waited His return, and who are described as standing "without" (Luke 1:10) were in one sense in the Temple too — that is, in the ἱερόν, while he alone entered into the ναός, the "Temple" in its more limited and auguster sense. We read continually of Christ teaching "in the Temple" (Matthew 26:55; Luke 21:37; John 8:21), and perhaps are at a loss to understand how this could have been so, or how long conversations could there have been maintained, without interrupting the service of God. But this is ever the ἱερόν, the porches and porticoes of which were eminently adapted to such purposes, as they were intended far them. Into the ναός the Lord never entered during His earthly course: nor, indeed, being made under the law, could He do so, that being reserved for the priests alone. It need hardly be said that the money changers, the buyers and sellers, with the sheep and oxen, whom the Lord drives out, He repels from the ἱερόν, and not from the ναός. Irreverent as was their intrusion, they yet had not dared to establish themselves in the Temple properly so called. (Matthew 21:12; John 2:14). On the other hand, when we read of another Zacharias slain "between the Temple and the altar" (Matthew 23:35) we have only to remember that "Temple" is ναός here, at once to get rid of a difficulty, which may perhaps have presented itself to many — this, namely, Was not the altar in the Temple? How, then, could any locality be described as between these two? In the ἱερόν, doubtless was the brazen altar to which allusion is here made, but not in the ναός, "in the court" of the House of the Lord (cf. Josephus, "Antiq." 8:04, 1), where the sacred historian (2 Chronicles 24:21) lays the scene of this murder, but not in the House of the Lord, or ναός, itself. Again, how vividly does it set forth to us the despair and defiance of Judas, that he presses even into the ναός itself (Matthew 27:5), into the "adytum" which was set apart for the priests alone, and there casts down before them the accursed price of blood. Those expositors who affirm that here ναός stands for ἱερόν should adduce some other passage in which the one is put for the other.
And He sat down and taught.I. HE WAS DEVOUTLY STUDIOUS. It was from the solitudes of Olivet where He had spent the previous night that He goes into the Temple. To preach the gospel three things are essential, and these can come only by solitude.
1. Self-formed conviction of gospel truth. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation; but how is it to be wielded — by Bible circulation, recitation of its contents, or repeating the comments of others? All these are useful, but conviction is indispensable. Heaven has so honoured our nature that the gospel, to win its victories, must pass as living beliefs through the soul of the teacher. The men who teach it without such convictions — conventional preachers — can never enrich the world. They are echoes of old voices, mere channels through which old dogmas flow. But he who speaks what he believes and because he believes, the doctrine comes from him instinct and warm with life. His individuality is impressed upon it. The world never had it in that exact form before. Now, devout solitude is necessary to this. Alone with God you can search the gospel to its foundation, and feel the congruity of its doctrine with your reason, its claims with your conscience, its provisions with your wants.
2. Unconquerable love for gospel truth. There is an immense practical opposition to it. Men's pride, prejudice, pleasures, pursuits, and temporal interests are against it. It follows, therefore, that those who think more of the favour of society than of the claims of truth, will not deal with it honestly, earnestly, and therefore successfully. The man only who loves truth more than even life, can so use it really to benefit mankind. In devout solitude you can cultivate this invincible attachment to truth, and you may be made to feel with Paul, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ,"
3. A living expression of gospel truth. Our conduct must confirm and illumine the doctrines which our lips declare. For this there must be seasons of solitude. When Moses talked with God the skin of his face shone. But in devout seclusion our whole nature may become luminous. John the Baptist gained invincible energy in the wilderness; Paul prepared for apostleship in Arabia; and in Gethsemane Jesus was prepared for His work.
II. HE WAS SUBLIMELY COURAGEOUS. On the previous day His life had been threatened and His arrest attempted, yet with a noble daring He goes "early in the morning" to the same scene. Distinguish this spirit from what the world calls courage.
1. Brute courage is dead to the sacredness of life. Soldiers hold life cheaply, and their courage is an animal and mercenary thing. But Christ deeply felt and frequently taught the sanctity of life. He came not to destroy men's lives, etc. "What shall it profit, etc."
2. Brute courage is indifferent to the grand mission of life. The man of brute valour is not inspired with the question, What is the grand object of my life? Am I here to work out the great designs of my Maker or to be a mere fighting machine? On the contrary, Christ's regard for the grand mission of His life made Him courageous. He came to bear witness to the truth; and to fulfil this work He willingly risked His own mortal life.
3. Brute courage is always inspired by mere animal passion. It is when the blood is up the man is daring, the mere blood of the enraged tiger or the infuriated lion. When the blood cools down the man's courage, such as it is, collapses. Not so with the valour of Christ, which was that of deep conviction of duty. "As Luther," Dr. D'Aubigne informs us, "drew near the door which was about to admit him into the presence of his judges (the Diet of Worms), he met a valiant knight, the celebrated George of Freundsberg, who, four years later, at the head of his German lansquenets, bent the knee with his soldiers on the field of Pavia, and then, charging to the left of the French army, drove it into the Ticino, and in a great measure decided the captivity of the King of France. The old general, seeing Luther pass, tapped him on the shoulder, and shaking his head, blanched in many battles, said kindly, 'Poor monk, poor monk! thou art now going to make a nobler stand than I or any other captain have ever made in the bloodiest of our battles. But if thy cause is just, and thou art sure of it, go forward in God's name and fear nothing. God will not forsake thee.' A noble tribute of respect paid by the courage of the sword to the courage of the mind." Nothing is more necessary for a religious teacher than courage, for his mission is to strike hard against the prejudices, self interests, dishonesties, etc., of the masses. No man without valour can do the work of a religious teacher. The popular preacher must more or less be cowardly conciliatory. Dead fish swim with the stream; it requires living ones with much inner force to cutup against the current.
III. HE WAS SUBLIMELY EARNEST. Early in the morning He did not indulge Himself sleep — "I must work," etc. Two things should make the preacher earnestly diligent.
1. The transcendent importance of His mission — to enlighten and regenerate is perishable spirits that are in a morally ruinous condition. What is involved in the loss of one soul?
2. The brevity of life. How short the time, even in the longest-lived for this greatest of human understandings.
IV. HE WAS BEAUTIFULLY NATURAL. "He sat down," etc. There was nothing stiff or official. All was free, fresh, and elastic as nature.
1. He was natural in attitude. Modern rhetoric has rules to guide a public speaker as to his posture, etc. All such miserable directions are not only unlike Christ, but degrading to the moral nature of the speaker, and detrimental to his oratorio influence. Let a man be charged with great thoughts, and those thoughts will throw his frame into the most beseeming attitudes.
2. He was natural in expression. He attended to no classic rule of composition; the words and similes He employed were such as His thoughts ran into first, and such as His hearers could well understand. To many modern preachers composition is everything. What solemn trifling with gospel truth!
3. He was natural in tones. The tones of His voice, we may rest assured, rose and fell according to the thoughts that occupied His soul. The voice of the modern teacher is often hideously artificial. Just so far as a speaker goes away from his nature, either in language, attitude, or tone, he loses self-respect, inward vigour, and social force.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
PlacesJerusalem, Mount of Olives
TopicsAppeared, Break, Courts, Crowds, Early, Gathered, However, Morning, Returned, Sat, Seated, Taught, Teach, Teaching, Temple
Outline1. Jesus delivers the woman taken in adultery.
12. He declares himself the light of the world, and justifies his doctrine;
31. promises freedom to those who believe;
33. answers the Jews who boasted of Abraham;
48. answers their reviling, by showing his authority and dignity;
59. and slips away from those who would stone him.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJohn 8:2
Eversley. Chester Cathedral. 1872. St John viii. 58. "Before Abraham was, I am." Let us consider these words awhile. They are most fit for our thoughts on this glorious day, on which the Lord Jesus ascended to His Father, and to our Father, to His God, and to our God, that He might be glorified with the glory which He had with the Father before the making of the world. For it is clear that we shall better understand Ascension Day, just as we shall better understand Christmas or Eastertide, …
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April 9. "I do Always those Things that Please Him" (John viii. 29).
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'Never in Bondage'
Three Aspects of Faith
July the Fifth the Discipleship that Tells
On the Words of the Gospel, John viii. 31, "If Ye Abide in My Word, Then are Ye Truly My Disciples," Etc.
Believing on Jesus, and Its Counterfeits
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Morgan -- the Perfect Ideal of Life
Of the Imitation of Christ, and of Contempt of the World and all Its Vanities
Messianic Claims Met by Attempt to Stone Jesus.
The Course of the World.
The First Chapter: Imitating Christ and Despising all Vanities on Earth
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