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3. Outcast Women Identified By Lifestyle: An Adulterous Woman

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Time: Jesus’ Third Year of Ministry, ~29 AD

Background: Religious "Leaders" in Jesus' Time

Although Jesus gained popularity among the masses during His second year of ministry, the disdain of the religious leaders steadily increased during that time. The Jews who desired to kill Jesus were the scribes, Pharisees, chief priests and the Sadducees, many of whom were part of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal and administrative body in the Jewish state in Roman times.

The scribes, also called lawyers or teachers of the Law, were an upper class group of learned Jews who thoroughly knew and, therefore, interpreted the Mosaic Law as affluent academics. Many of them taught in the local seminary in Jerusalem. According to the tradition of the scribes, there were "secrets" of interpretation that they did not share with the common people thinking that God intended to leave the mass of people ignorant of His reasons for requiring certain things under the Law. Therefore, they had a wrong concept of God and themselves.

The Sadducees came from the leading families (e.g., the priests, merchants and aristocrats). The high priests and most powerful members of the priesthood were mainly Sadducees. The Sadducees rejected the tradition of the elders and did not believe in the supernatural. They were willing to compromise with the political leaders of the country and tended to be more upper class as comfortable compromisers. It has been estimated that in Jerusalem alone there were more than 20,000 associated with the Sadducees. Pharisees, by contrast, were middle class and more religious than the Sadducees.

The Chief Priests usually came from the class of Sadducees. This group included all the temple officers, including the High Priest and the captain of the temple. All sat on the Sanhedrin, a religious governing body of 71 Jewish elders. They were elected, and then ordained by the laying on of hands. Their responsibilities included governing the Jewish community.

Day One Study

1. Read John 7:1-53. Describe how the religious leaders thought or felt about Jesus.

2. What did the religious leaders think of the crowds?

3. How did the crowd think or feel about Jesus?

Scriptural Insight: What was the purpose of miracles? Besides alleviating suffering, miracles were used by God to authenticate the message and the messenger. See John 7:31 and Acts 2:22.

4. How did the crowd think or feel about the Jewish leaders?

5. Why were the Pharisees and Chief Priests unsuccessful in their attempts to arrest Jesus?

6. How, if at all, did the hostility of these leaders affect Jesus in the way He taught or acted?

7. The religious leaders failed at giving hope to those who needed hope. They lost sight of a true “love for God” that would also include a love for people—all people. Read Matthew 22:34-40. This “greatest commandment” question was asked by a young lawyer (scribe). Relate Jesus’ answer with what motivated Him to continue building relationships with and teaching those who needed to know Him, regardless of the resistance?

8. Living Out His Love: Helping women to experience the love of Jesus is an intentional and relational process flowing from a love for God and love from God for people (Matthew 22:37-39). Define the two words: intentional and relational. What would it look like in your life to build an intentional relationship with a woman who needs to know how much Jesus loves her? Ask Jesus to give you His love for people that will lead you to be an intentional, relational disciplemaker.

Day Two Study

The earliest manuscripts didn't contain John 7:53-8:11, the passage we are studying in this lesson. However, reference to this passage can be traced back to ~ AD 100. So, most scholars conclude that this passage represents a genuine episode in Jesus' ministry, preserved for inspiration and instruction.

There was much controversy and conflicting opinions in Judea at this time concerning Jesus' identity. The Feast of the Tabernacles, or Festival of Booths, was the most popular feast of the year in which the people made booths for themselves out of tree branches and celebrated the completion of harvest and God's goodness to His people during the desert wanderings. After the Feast of the Tabernacles, the Jewish leaders attempt to ruin Jesus using an adulterous woman as "Bait for the Trap."

9. Read John 8:1-11. Describe the woman and her circumstances.

10. What were the religious leaders seeking to accomplish by exposing her?

11. Which one person is conspicuously absent? See Deuteronomy 19:15, 22:23,24 and Leviticus 20:10.

12. The religious leaders asked a question “Now what do you have to say?” In light of what you read in John 7 about the fickleness of the crowds, what do you think they wanted to happen?

13. How did Jesus answer their question?

Scriptural Insight: Many have tried to guess what Jesus wrote on the ground. Some suggest He wrote the sins of the accusers. Others propose that He wrote the words of Exodus 23:1, “Do not [be] a malicious witness.” Still others say He simply traced His finger in the dust while preparing to respond.” His words spoken to the crowd are what really count. (Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 347)

14. Discuss the response of those who heard Jesus' words. What did they recognize about themselves?

15. Read John 8:7 and 2 Corinthians 5:21. Who was the only person qualified to stone her?

Day Three Study

16. Reread John 8:1-11. Remember the woman. What might have been going through her mind as she was standing there before Jesus and the crowd?

17. What kept her there standing before Him? Explain your answer.

18. What qualities does Jesus display toward the woman and toward her behavior?

19. Why was Jesus able to forgive her instead of condemning her? See also Matthew 20:28, John 3:16-17, Mark 2:5-12, and Luke 5:31.

20. Living Out His Love: Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. The Bible clearly teaches that immorality is not pleasing to God. We are instructed to "flee/avoid immorality." Are you currently in immoral behavior—an affair, pornography, living with someone who is not your husband? What choices do you need to make in order to flee from immorality or "leave your life of sin"? Are you confident that your heavenly Father has given you everything you need in order to do this? Ask your group to pray for you and give you help as needed to start a new way of life. [For additional help, see the “Greener-Grass Syndrome” at the end of this lesson.]              

Day Four Study

21. Read Matthew 7:1-5, Romans 2:1-11 and Romans 14:1. What does God say to us concerning judging others? (More references: Luke 6:35-42; Luke 17:3-4; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 and James 4:11-12.)

22. After Jesus forgave her, what are His instructions to her and what does that mean? See also Hebrews 4:15-16.

23. Living Out His Love: The snapshots in the gospels of the three women we have studied in the first 3 lessons clearly illustrate the distinction that Jesus makes between the sin and the sinner. He dealt with the sin in their lives while showing His love and concern for the women. In our study, we have contrasted His attitude toward the women with that of the Pharisees and other "religious" leaders. Do you have a hard time making this distinction when dealing with immoral friends or family members? For what can you specifically ask your heavenly Father to give to you that would help you to love them with Jesus’ love?

Greener-Grass Syndrome

by Kimberlee Hertzer

“We were just platonic friends when he added me as a friend on Facebook. A month later, I decided to leave my husband and children for him. After all, I was so unhappy in my marriage. Shouldn’t I be with someone who makes me happy?”

Sound familiar? If not, it will, as more and more Christian married women turn to other men to meet their needs. The “Greener-Grass Syndrome” has been around as long as green grass, but with the popularity of social media, the temptation and ease of grazing in someone else’s yard is greater now than ever.

Are you struggling with the “Greener-Grass Syndrome” or know someone who is? If you’re having an emotional or physical affair, here are four crucial questions that you need to ask, along with some practical advice for how to get back into your own yard.

What Caused the Affair?

If you’re like most women, you were probably drawn into the affair because of an unmet emotional need from your childhood or marriage. Maybe you were sexually abused as a child by a close family member and struggle with being able to trust. Perhaps you’re married to a good man, but you somehow feel disconnected and your needs aren’t being met. Or maybe you feel lonely and unappreciated, because your husband is too busy leading mission trips to concentrate on your marriage.

No one understood what it was like to have unmet needs in a relationship more than the Samaritan woman. Christ reached out to her with compassion and grace, in spite of her having a string of unfulfilled relationships. He gave her an invitation to find intimacy through a relationship with Him when He said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13–14 NIV).

After five husbands and who knows how many lovers, this woman finally met the Man who could fill the void in her life. If Christ was able to meet the needs of the Samaritan woman, why can’t He meet yours?

When Did the Affair Start?

Likely, your affair started like most affairs do—with a harmless friendship. Perhaps after a while, you started meeting for coffee regularly and texting throughout the day. Slowly, you let your guard down and began to fantasize about him. In Proverbs 4:23 we’re taught, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT). But you didn’t guard your heart. You let your boundaries down completely, which led to a full-blown physical affair. For the first few months, it was romantic and exciting, but now, maybe after a year or two, the same old feelings of discontentment and emptiness have returned.

You may also feel stuck—unhappy in your marriage and unhappy in your affair. What should you do? Well, you should end the affair. But how?

How Do You End the Affair?

It’s crucial that you write a letter to the other man, dissolving your relationship and ending all communication with him. You must also get a new cell phone number and e-mail address so that you cannot receive any messages and be tempted to respond. If you work with him, you should consider quitting and changing jobs. And if he goes to your church, you’ll need to switch churches.

These measures might seem extreme, but it’s important for you to take severe steps to prevent you from falling back into a relationship with this man, as well as to protect you from an affair happening again in the future. We are reminded in Matthew 5:30, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (NIV). Obviously, Jesus wasn’t endorsing self-mutilation but rather making a dramatic point in a dramatic way: do whatever it takes to keep yourself free from the sins of lust and adultery.

How Do You Rebuild Your Marriage?

First, you must seek counsel from your pastor or a trained Christian counselor whom you and your husband can meet with weekly. Second, you’ll need to confess your sin to the Lord and to your husband. It’s often helpful if this is done in the context of meeting with your pastor or counselor. James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (NIV). Third, you and your husband need to know how and why the affair happened, as well as place firm boundaries in your marriage to prevent it from happening again.

If you’re struggling with the “Greener-Grass Syndrome,” remember that only the Lord can meet all of your needs for intimacy. I pray that the Lord will reveal to you that the grass really isn’t greener on the other side and that He will give you a desire to cultivate your own marriage.

*Source of this article is online at: http://www.insight.org/resources/articles/women/greener-grass-syndrome.html.

Related Topics: Character Study, Love, Women

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