As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:3-5, 7, 10-11 (New Living Translation)
There’s really a lot packed into this story. Some popular opinion has it that this woman was Mary Magdelene, although the Bible doesn’t say so. Here’s a question I have; where was the dude? You know, the guy she committed adultery with. Where is he and why didn’t the religious types bring him to Jesus as well? Just curious.
This confrontation, this story is an astounding picture of the mercy of Jesus. This woman was, according to the Jewish law, to be executed for her crime. Aren’t some of us glad we don’t live under Old Testament Judaic law? Obviously the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into something here. Why is it, I wonder, that so may religious leaders then, and today, seem to look for holes in Jesus, rules to govern, a salve for their insecurity? It’s like grace isn’t enough for them. But I digress. So, the Pharisees are trying to trap Him. But Jesus is a smart guy. And merciful. Think about this for a second. The Bible clearly teaches that God is perfect, without sin. In fact, He cannot stand to be near sin. Yet Jesus shows compassion when He doesn’t have to. We could all use some of what He’s having.
Jesus goes even further in speaking to the crowds after this incident in verses fifteen and sixteen of the same chapter. Hear the words of Jesus. “You judge me by human standards but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me.” Ok, did you get that, what Jesus said? “I do not judge anyone.” Contrary to what so much of the religious preach, Jesus does not judge us. He loves, He forgives, He shows mercy. This was an astonishing revelation for me. Not only am I forgiven, He does not and will not judge me. Later in the New Testament, Paul gets Jesus’ back. In Romans 8:1, Paul says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Read that again. And again. Did you feel that? If you belong to Christ, there is no condemnation, you are not judged. Jesus has already taken that judgment for you when He went to the cross. How can this not set you free to live the life He has called you to? Amazing love! Here’s where our part comes in and this is important. Go back to the woman. What did Jesus say to her? “Go and sin no more.” In other words, stop being who you are not. You are forgiven, set free. Stop being who you are not and live the life He calls you to.
When we are confronted by the love of God, the mercy of a Being who is love, we have two choices. Accept His mercy, His love and live in it. Or, reject it by walking away and living in our own power, living in sin. Why would we not want to walk in His love, embrace His mercy, to “go our way and sin no more”? So I guess the question is; what’s your choice?
Behind door number one, the chains of our sin, a life lived apart from His love. Behind door number two, the love, mercy and life of freedom He offers. Your call but it sounds like a no-brainer to me. Just sayin’.