Who knows what was running through the woman's mind. As she was dragged into the midst where Jesus stood, the Pharisees began eagerly sharing the woman’s sin with Jesus and the people around Him. The woman had sinned…she was caught in the act, the very act, of adultery. “Moses said, according to the LAW, that she should be stoned. What do you say Jesus?”
Stooping down, Jesus took His finger and began writing on the ground. Again He was questioned, “What do you say? Should this woman be stoned?” Jesus stood up and looking around said to the scribes and Pharisees, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” With that proclamation Jesus returned to writing on the ground.
The crowd of accusers drifted away until no one was left. Jesus stood again and asked the woman if there was anyone left to condemn her. When the woman replied, “No”, His response to her echoes as a lesson to us all. “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” (A paraphrase of Romans 8:1-11)
I love this passage of Scripture. It is one of hope and mercy, grace and truth! Note that Jesus did not condone her sin. He told her to in fact, stop sinning! However, He showed her grace and mercy while also addressing those who would condemn her.
The accusations laid against her were not wrong, but the heart motive of her accusers was. Sadly, my motivations were not always pure when I confronted someone caught in sin. how have you responded to those who sin?
Instead of heaping condemnation on this woman, Jesus demonstrated a better response, one filled with grace.
I think we struggle in the church with how to respond to those caught in sin. We seem to forget that these were the very people Jesus died for. In fact, His harshest words were for those religious people of the day.
Maybe we are afraid that by demonstrating grace and mercy, we will seem weak on sin. Need that be so? Jesus spoke to the heart, not to the behavior. As demonstrated in this story, He told her to sin no more, but by His act of mercy, he also demonstrated His love!
There is a wonderful passage of Scripture found in Matthew 7:1-5 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
If we would remember that we ourselves have sinned and been forgiven much, we would find it easier to extend grace to others.
So the next time you want to speak to the sins of others, swallow your spiritual pride, check your heart and show the love of Christ!