Monday, September 5, 2016
“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. . . . they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. . . . But what do You say?’ . . . ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” . . . And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. . . . ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’” (John 8:3-11 (NKJV).
he Bible thumping, scripture quoting, scholarly, recognizably dressed, pastoral leaders of the day captured a woman engaged in a damnable sin. She was someone else’s wife with some other woman’s husband! “Adultery” was the charge. The right reverends were on a mission! Each could meticulously quote the Law she had broken in both Hebrew and Greek. Jesus could have asked, “Where is the accused man?” The curious would like to know! John doesn’t satisfy the inquiry with an answer. Perhaps this absentee was an Olympic runner? We will never know. However, she was there. She was guilty. Her accusers were numerous. They were reputable witnesses. Every Bible believer knew the ghastly punishment!
Their purpose was not to honor the Law. It was not to punish the woman. They wanted to ruin Jesus. They wanted him to answer one question. They quoted Moses. What would his response be? He did not answer their intimidating question! He doodled using mother earth as his black board. What was his justification for his silence? Was he afraid to answer? Was he in error? Did he believe Moses was wrong? Was he defending adultery? Did error prompt him to ignore the question? Some today might have charged him with such if they had been part of that clergy crowd. Didn’t his silence indicate that he accepted her sin?
Jesus did not tell them to refrain from carrying out Moses’ sentence. He did not disagree with Moses. He did not say anything to support the woman’s conduct. He did not sympathize with her position. He simply invited the one’s without sin to be first in carrying out the sentence. He then went back to doodling!
When he looked up, the righteous clergy had disappeared. He asked the accused about their absence and charge. Her short reply was, “No one, Lord.” She probably breathed a partial sigh of relief. However, Jesus had heard their charges. He knew the Law. He knew what she had done. He knew the punishment. She knew she was guilty. Those whom Jesus had been teaching had also heard the charges. Death would come shortly! However, what she heard was not expected. “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Can you visualize yourself before Jesus’ at the judgment and your emotional state when he says that to you? Will he?
Yet, notice that something is missing in this encounter. Jesus doesn’t tell her to “repent,” “confess,” or to “pray.” No condemnation spills from his lips! Hasn’t she broken the Law? Isn’t stoning the punishment deserved? The “witnesses” have left. But didn’t Jesus and his crowd hear the charge against her? They did! Yet the Law calls for eye witnesses, not hearing ones. Some may ignore it, but grace is present! The problem today is, some believe God’s grace covers their failures, but not the shortcomings of others! Especially one who deserves to be killed by having her brain splattered!
Jesus’ last five words to the woman are troubling. “Go and sin no more.” Some say Jesus is telling her to stop sinning, period! Under Law, one infraction made one guilty of all! If she is to never sin again, Jesus has burdened her with an impossible task. Her future offers only failure. Is perfection expected of her and us by our Lord? If so, our failure will drive us into depression, joylessness, guilt, and self-destruction.
Without the sacrificial blood of Jesus, one sin on our part makes each of us a 100% sinner! Yet, being in the body of Christ keeps us washed. We are saved sinners, not sporadically, but continually cleansed (1 John 1:7-10). We leave the old lifestyle and start living the new one (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-23). Now that we have new life in Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Basically, what Jesus told the woman, he tells us. Live the new life: “Go and continue in a sinful lifestyle no more.” Jesus makes it possible for us to live forgiven lives. THAT is GOOD News!