1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 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. 7 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.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
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. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Last time we saw that the legalistic, self-righteous scribes and Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus. They were not actually seeking the solution to the co-existence of justice and mercy -- they simply wanted to destroy Jesus.
When I think about the looks on their faces when they hear His response, I have to smile. After all, haven't we all known some people who tried their best to trap and humiliate us? Haven't we wished later that we'd said something just perfect? A crushing come-back that would set them on their heels?
Jesus refuses to be sucked into their debate over the role of capital punishment for adultery. Instead, He disqualifies these haughty men from being witnesses or executioners and quietly tells them: “Let
him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”Jesus looks right into their hard hearts and sees the hatred and hypocrisy; they are ignoring the details of the law and pressing their own agenda - to get rid of Jesus. They aren't doing this because they love the holiness of God, or fear offending Him. They love themselves, and they are always afraid of losing their power and prestige, the things that allow them to be haughty and look down their noses at others.
Now I can hear some saying, "Wait a minute! She was caught; she was sinful!" And you are correct; she was sinful and the Old Testament Law allowed the death penalty. But God, in His wisdom, recognized the potential for abuse. He made the process precise -- the Law required two things that these men had ignored. First, there was to be no partiality: both the man and the woman were to be apprehended and punished. Second, the Law demanded a trial, not a public humiliation as exhibited here.
Exposed in their own sins (pride, hypocrisy, self-righteousness) they turn and depart. The oldest ones walk away first, for the wisdom of their age helps them quickly realize their trap has sprung -- on them!
So we've seen that Jesus resisted the proud, and discomforted the haughty . . . now let's look at how He comforts the humbled.
Sometimes we hear about a person accused of a crime, "they were let off on a technicality." That is what happened to this young woman. Jesus dismisses the case against her because there are no witnesses or accusers. "Woman, where are they?"
But let's make it clear -- He does not say "You are not guilty." In essence, He is telling her, you have sinned. You cannot shift the blame to anyone else's behavior. They did not accuse you correctly; they did not bring your "partner in crime," but if you were a woman of upright heart, you would not be betrayed by fleshly desires . . .you have sinned against the Holy God. "Neither do I condemn you; go now and leave your life of sin."
How can God not condemn this sin? Jesus does not condemn because He will be condemned for her . . ."daughter, you have sinned, but when stones are thrown, they will hit Me. You have made dirty what God made precious, but when spears are cast, they will strike My side. You have mis-used God's gifts, but when thorns pierce skin, it will be My blood that is shed."
Are we bruised by life's problems and pain? Have we been beaten down by sin and trouble, even trouble that we've brought onto ourselves? How can Jesus' words help us, as they helped this woman?
1. We must stop blaming others. We must own up to our sins and failures.
2. We look at Christ on the cross, and see that He is broken for our sins and failures.
3. Call Him our Lord and master, and accept His grace -- He is the one Who can change us into the person we want to be.
4. We must accept that true grace doesn't stop at "neither do I condemn you." That love continues on to "sin no more." We must repent, turn away from that sin, and His grace will free us.
Many religions say, "Our god is too great to die." Christianity claims instead, "Our God is so great that He died for us, and then rose to live again."
He does not condemn us; will we come to Him for the grace to go and sin no more?