There’s a powerful scene in John 8:1-11, where Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They bring to Him a woman caught in adultery and they remind Him that the Law of Moses says she should be stoned to death. They want to know what HE says.
It’s meant to be a trap. They think He can only answer one of two ways and that either answer will play into their hands. They do not — they cannot — conceive of the reply that they will actually receive.
Reading this passage at different times, in different seasons of my life, I’ve heard Him say different things….
Sometimes I take note of how Jesus refused to be drawn in to the trap set for Him. He didn’t feel obligated to answer them — at least, not the way they expected. He didn’t owe it to them to explain or defend His views. He was silent for a while, before He replied. There are people in my life who have come at me with an agenda, people who have set traps for me; the enemy of my soul has certainly set traps for me. Jesus’ example speaks powerfully to me.
When He does address the question, He replies simply, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!”
Those words speak to me, too. In the times when my “righteous anger” or “righteous indignation,” is sounding less and less righteous by the second. When I’m tempted to pronounce sweeping judgments, condemning the actions and behaviors, even the thoughts and motives and hearts of others.
I know now why the Scripture says “the older ones” left first….
The longer we live, the more we come to realize just how weak and frail human flesh really is — the depths to which our sin nature will sink. We understand the struggle, the frustration. We’ve been repeatedly humbled by our own failures and we learn not to be quite as quick to condemn others. Because there but for the grace of God go we.
When everyone else has gone, Jesus speaks to the woman herself: “Neither do I condemn you…”
Sometimes reading these words brings tears springing to my eyes. Times when I feel so guilty and ashamed. When my sins, my failures, my shortcomings are so overwhelming to me. When my own heart condemns me. When He seems so far from me. These words remind me of His tenderness toward me. His kindness and compassion. His love and mercy and grace. I come running back to Him, eager to confess all and receive His forgiveness. His embrace.
Finally He says, “Go and sin no more.”
These words convict me. My forgiveness wasn’t free. It cost Him something — it cost Him everything — at Calvary. I show my love and gratitude by choosing the path He did. The path of surrender, the path of obedience to the will of God. It’s how I experience more fully His presence, His peace, His power at work in my life today.
He has so much to say.
May my heart always reply:
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)
This Week’s Assignment:
If you are participating in Summer in the Son — Virtual VBS For GrownUp Girls — our online study of the Gospel of John:
Read John Chs 8-9. Take your time and really immerse yourself in the Word. (For tips on how to get the most out of your Bible study time, see Five Simple Ways to Focus on the Words You Read.)
Memorize John 8:31-32.
Today’s question: This week, His words to me are “Go and sin no more!” There are some temptations I’ve not made much of an effort lately to resist, some specific areas of my life I know Jesus wants me to bring under His authority and control. What is He saying to you?