Month: January 2016
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Imagine what this woman must’ve been feeling. She was caught in the act of adultery. They literally dragged her out of bed and brought her before Jesus. As much as she was on the spot, so was Jesus. Surely He knew He was being set up. The Pharisees wanted Him to let her off the hook so they could accuse Him of breaking the law. But Jesus is smarter than that. Let’s go back to the woman. The Pharisees just asked Jesus, “What do you say?” The woman now believes that her fate lies in the hands of this stranger. She’s probably heard of Jesus, but she probably doesn’t know whether or not to believe what she’s heard. When Jesus began writing on the ground, the woman probably wondered what He was doing and how it was going to solve anything. At least, until she saw what He was writing. I’ve heard it theorized that Jesus was writing the sins of the people standing before Him. When He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” the people looked down at what He was writing and felt condemned and ashamed. The older people left first possibly because they were wiser and knew better than to stick around, or possibly because they had done the sins written on the ground more than the younger people and so they felt more shame. Either way, they left and the younger people followed suite until it was just Jesus and the woman. At this point, she was probably still scared. Perhaps she had heard that Jesus claimed to be sinless. If so, then she knew that He would be able to throw a stone at her. But He didn’t. He stood up and looked at her and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” I imagine she wasn’t quite sure what to say. Was it a trick question? Well, she went ahead and answered, “No one, sir,” probably still unsure of what was going to happen to her. Jesus replied, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” That’s forgiveness. Do you know what that must have felt like? This woman was sure she was going to die. But she walked away not only unharmed, but also with the forgiveness of God Himself. Sure, she still had to face her husband and the townspeople, but I imagine Jesus’ forgiveness took the burden off her heart so that she could handle whatever was thrown at her. We don’t know what became of this woman, we don’t even know her name, but I have a feeling that things turned out well for her thanks to the forgiveness of God. We are offered that same forgiveness. That same life-changing, burden-lifting forgiveness. All we have to do is ask for it. We deserve it as much as the adulteress did, but God will give it to us without reserve because of his unconditional love. Now that is a great story.