Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?"
- John 8:10
In John 8:1-11, we witness Jesus’ interaction with a woman who has committed adultery, the teachers of religious law, and the Pharisees (Jewish men who were strict adherents to the Torah). What is interesting about this interaction is that this woman is singled out by a group of men, while Jesus writes something on the ground with his finger. But Jesus isn’t standing on the sideline hoping to see this woman punished for her wrongdoing.
The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees know that stoning is the punishment for adultery. When they question Jesus about what they should do, He asks them to reflect on their authority to judge someone else. He tells them that if any of them is without sin, they should throw a stone at the woman.
I’ll bet you’re wondering how this story relates to you. I’m guessing you haven’t committed adultery. Neither have I. But don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a feminist rant about how you shouldn’t shave your legs. Jesus couldn’t care less if you shave once a week or once a month. Own it, girl!
What’s interesting about this story is that truly only Jesus had the authority to throw a stone at this woman because He was the only one without sin. Of course, Jesus does not throw the stone, but He does tell her to leave her life of sin. This is the definition of mercy. Punishment is not given even though it is deserved.
How many times in our own lives do we not receive the punishment we deserve for our choices, words, or actions? Maybe you used to text at the dinner table, so your parents took away your phone for the rest of the evening. Little do your parents know, you still have an iPad, Mac computer, and TV to entertain you.
God’s love stretches further than we know. Even to an adulteress that Jesus chooses not to condemn. Do you know what that means for us, friends? God’s love protects us.
As Christians, we are called to look deeply at our sin. God doesn’t ask us to reflect because He wants us to feel ashamed or unworthy. He doesn’t shake His head in disappointment or turn His back against us, expecting us to do better next time. He doesn’t tell us that we’ve missed the mark and that somehow we are well past praying for. He wants us to see what’s going on in our hearts.
When Jesus tells the woman to leave her life of sin, He offers her an opportunity to live differently. Instead of using some sort of checklist to measure her worth like the teachers of the law and Pharisees did, Jesus stands up for her. She isn’t worthy of condemnation anymore.
The story ends with just Jesus and the woman. Everyone else has left. The only one whose validation should matter to us is the one that comes from Him alone.
His love protects us. As rejected as we feel about our mistakes, we have to remember the value God has given us. People will place you in a box and tell you who you are or who you should be. Some will judge you for ordering a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks or because you don’t own a pair of Adidas Superstars.
I think this Bible passage could’ve ended on a very different note if Jesus didn’t value the life and heart of this woman. She expected the punishment. She knew the consequences of her actions. But Jesus’ way isn’t one of judgment and humiliation.
If His love truly protects us, we don’t need to live in fear.
1. When have you seen God show you mercy when you didn’t deserve it?
2. When have you allowed fear of judgment to cause you to feel shame and humiliation?
3. How can you live differently knowing that God’s voice matters more than the world’s?
Lord Jesus, Your love for me is deep and will never change. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I am worthy of being loved. Help me to remember that You have known me since the beginning. My unshakeable identity is found in You alone. Amen.
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