“Go and sin no more.”
That’s what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery.
The story is in John 8:3-11. The religious leaders at the time brought a woman, who was caught in adultery, to Jesus. They said to him “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery….” They were actually testing him as they told him the law of Moses said she should be stoned. They asked him what he said. I’m sure they each had their own stones, or large rocks, in their hands just waiting for the word to throw them at the woman.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of judgement and condemnation? I have, and it’s no fun. This woman caught in adultery also understood the shame of being on the receiving end of gossip and anger.
The guilt we usually feel is enough to way us down, as we acknowledge how easily we made the wrong choice, went the wrong way, and ended up with a life in ruins. But listen to what Jesus does next.
“But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear”. (v.6)
It doesn’t matter what the accusers say about you, the gossip they share behind your back, or the anger they spew out….Jesus is not persuaded by their judgements or accusations.
Jesus’ love was stronger than their accusations.
“So, when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone with the woman….Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers?’ She said ‘No one, Lord.’ and Jesus said to her “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.'”(v.7-11)
They had to drop their stones.
Many have speculated as to what Jesus wrote in the sand that day. I think it’s telling that those who heard it were convicted and left one by one, from the oldest to youngest. Could Jesus have been writing a list of sins? (lying, stealing, gossip…) Perhaps the oldest left first because they recognized their many sins in the sand that day. They each had to eventually drop their stones and leave.
Nobody could throw that first stone at her because they each had sinned also. Yes, they may not have committed adultery, the labels on their sins and failures was different, but they still had sinned. They were not any better than this exposed woman.
Jesus’ love was not only in words to the woman, but in action. His love was visible to all even though it was not popular, and contrary to the culture of the time. He stood with her.
I love that about Jesus. He wasn’t concerned about His own reputation or the ‘political correctness’ or that day. He stood by her side.
He wanted more for her than how she was living.
But he didn’t just walk away after that. He didn’t want to leave her in her sin. By showing his mercy for her, did not mean he condoned her sin. He loved her and wanted more for her than the pit of sin she’d grown accustomed to. He wanted her to be set free and live in joy.
He says “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” These were not spoken in harsh judgement or anger. Just an unconditional love that reaches down to pull one up to a better place. (These were words I would hear in my own head some days, while I was living in my own sin, and feeling miserable most of the time. He was still there reaching out to rescue me, if I wanted it).
He knew the greatest threat she had was not the Pharisee’s stoning her. Her greatest threat was her separation from God and that’s what sin does. God’s not after us ‘following rules’ but following Him. He knows our sins will separate us from Him in this life, and for eternity, if we don’t turn from them.
He loves you and me just like this woman.
He loves us too much to leave us in our pit of sin.
He has better things for us and the thing we thought was so fun and fulfilling looks like a pile of trash compared to what He offers us.
Have you turned your life over to Him? Maybe you’re a christian and you were once close to Jesus but you drifted away from God. Or maybe you don’t know the fullness of a relationship with Jesus. Turn to Him now and let His love heal the deepest, most broken parts of you that nobody else sees.
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