A Message in the Dust



John 8:3-11 “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. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

James 2:13 “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”

If you live long enough, you will surely encounter failure. Just about everyone can identify with failure. It’s hard to cope with it in our success-oriented world. The media revels in the failures of famous people. People exploit failures to make themselves feel better.

They gather to throw stones.

Dust is smaller than 1/16 of a millimeter. There can be lots of things in dust, bits of comets and asteroids or skin or hair. The more dust in the atmosphere, the prettier the sunset. Dust and the condensation of clouds (water vapor) create rain. Without dust, there can be no rain. Each raindrop takes something from the atmosphere and falls.

Dust has a purpose. Man was created from dust. In fact, man is part dust and part breath of God.

The devil was punished to go upon his belly and eat dust. There is another voice in the dust that you must be aware of.

God knows every sinful thing you’ve ever done. There is one message in the dust: God will deal with guilty sinners on the basis of grace.

John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

The Scribes and Pharisees judged according to law, but Jesus judged by grace. 

There was something fishy about this whole situation. More than likely, it was a trap for Jesus. If He condemns her, what will the people think? If he does not condemn her, what will the people think? He could get in trouble with Roman law, which does not allow capital punishment. Or He could show mercy, proving He didn’t follow the Law of Moses. Where was the man? Wasn’t she ‘caught in the very act’? Where was the man she was caught with?

Whatever the problem is, you can remember a time when you got busted. The woman had not only been caught half-naked and dragged across town. They accused her before the Godly, religious Teacher of Nazareth. The accusers were pushing for the ultimate punishment, death by stoning. It’s possible she was a teenager.

The scribes and Pharisees were just as guilty as this girl in this case. They cared nothing for her, a pawn to use and discard after they trapped Jesus in a religious debate. She fell into the dirt, probably crying and bruised. They threw her down into the dust. There was enough dust there for Jesus to stoop down and write in it.

These Scribes and Pharisees used Scripture to judge others and not apply them to themselves.

Jesus came to save the sinner. Who’s going to tell them about it?

There is a message in the dust here today. It’s not judgement. It’s not to do whatever you want. It’s not condoning, but it’s not condemning either. Jesus has a message in the dust for you and me today.

Romans 1-3 talks about the sin that is in the world.

Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

If God is full of love and grace, how can He show mercy, yet uphold truth and justice?

Nowhere in this story does Jesus condone this woman’s actions. He said instead, ‘Go and sin no more.’

Jesus stooped down in the dust. Aren’t you glad when you fail and the devil is throwing guilt and shame at you, Jesus is down in the dust with you? Aren’t you glad when you’re thrown in the fire, Jesus is there with you? Jesus is there with you in the dirt!

God isn’t behind some desk somewhere looking at a naughty and nice list. He is down in the dust with you and me.

The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus and force Him to choose grace or truth. This woman had violated the Law of Moses. Death or life? If Jesus showed grace He violated the Law of Moses. Either way, He loses.

The devil bit the dust in Genesis 2, and he’s been eating dust ever since.

What did Jesus write in the dust?

‘What do you say, Jesus?’ Well, He didn’t say anything at first. He wasn’t stalling. He’s an all-wise God. No one knows for sure what he wrote. It’s possible He wrote names in the dust of the women the scribes and Pharisees had committed adultery with.

Mat 7:1-3 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

God will show mercy on whom He will show mercy. There is a message in the dust for you today. Jesus says, ‘Go and sin no more.’

They threw her down at His feet. In the presence of God, you feel love, not conviction. In Scripture, you feel conviction. It’s that, ‘Go and sin no more.’ There is a beautiful thing when truth and grace come together. In the dust, there is a balance of grace and truth.

It is truth that brings forth judgement. Any judicial system must be based on truth and facts. If you break the law, the truth says you are guilty. Truth must be in the equation in order to judge. Truth is black and white. There can be no lie for it to be truth.

Truth reveals what’s false.

Truth hurts. It’s quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

But, God is rich in mercy.

Eph 2:4 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,”

Truth and judgement say, ‘You are dogs.’ Grace and mercy say, ‘You are grafted in. You are chosen.’

1 Peter 2:9-10 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

The truth will make you free, but mercy will make you a Christian.

The truth of truth is mercy is involved.

Mercy triumphs over judgement.

Jesus has truth and grace. He looks for someone He can show Himself to. It’s all there in the dust.

Mercy said, ‘No!’ Mercy will have victory.

James 2:13 “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”

Grace is getting something you don’t deserve, but mercy is not getting something you do deserve.

This isn’t a 'do whatever you want' kind of grace. There is neither condemnation nor condoning of sin. There is hope. You can get up.

The message in the dust is: You can get up and sin no more.

Deal with people with a balance of truth and grace. Don’t be so quick to cast stones. Realize you too have missed the mark. The last people need is condemnation by some self-righteous Christian. But, the people don’t need to hear they are okay the way they are either. There is a message in the dust that says, ‘You can get up and sin no more.’

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, come to The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!