A Woman Caught in Adultery – Joel McNelly
Scripture: John 8:1-11
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 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.”
I’m sure everyone has heard the term that “we are all in the same boat.” Jesus points out just how true that is in this story. Our main character has just been caught in an adulterous situation that allows a death sentence of stoning. Once the woman was found guilty, the accuser got to cast the first stone, the judge the second, and then if the person was not yet dead, everyone present would throw a barrage of softball sized stones until the accused was dead.
Like many other times, Jesus, a Jew himself, flipped Jewish tradition on its head. Knowing that he would soon be crucified for this and every other sin, Jesus launched a laser guided verbal missile into the boat. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” This was not so much a judgment of the laws, but of the heart. Jesus pointed out the big flaw; that we are all broken in the same way as this woman, that as the intended “Bride of Christ” we have all been unfaithful. Jesus’ heart of compassion for those that would soon cause his death was on display for all to see. Jesus was always concerned about healing the heart first.
But in case you think that he was condoning her sin or just letting her walk away, look again at the last words of Jesus. “I don’t condemn you, but don’t keep doing that!” (My paraphrase). The main point of this story is not about adultery or being judgmental, it is about the fact that Jesus took the death penalty for the things that we have done and then points out the response that he requires of us. If we end at the forgiveness of Jesus, we miss a major point of our faith- REPENTANCE.
Repentance is the response of a heart that is grateful for the gift of forgiveness. Sin is a ticking bomb, ready to blow up your life, causing damage in your relationship with God and others. Repentance is literally turning your back on that sin. When you realize that there is a bomb, you don’t keep walking toward it, you run away. That is exactly what repentance is, turning your back on your sin and running away from it and toward God.
Embrace the fact that Christ took the stones intended for you, embrace the fact that he dove on the bomb for you. Embrace that the price has been paid. Now stop! Fill your heart and your mind with the goodness of God’s word, talk to Him in prayer, tell him your struggles, and ask for help in resisting temptation. He is faithful when we just ask.
Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Believe that! Instead of seeing yourself as this miserable wreck, see yourself as forgiven and no longer condemned because Jesus himself snatched that away from you and gave you His heart
Thank you Jesus, that you have rescued me from my brokenness. Thank you for taking the just penalty for my sin. Thank you for welcoming me into your kingdom and not condemning me. I recognize you as the only one qualified to stand in my place, as the sinless son of God, as the only one that I serve. I confess that I have sinned against you in my thoughts, in the things that I have done, and in the things that I have failed to do. I turn my back on that and run to you. Fortify me so that I can faithfully serve you, trusting that you are perfect and faithful.