by Josiah Potts
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Pic by Enjoy Life
The Gospel of John’s story of the woman caught in adultery has, as long as I can remember, been a hot topic in the church world. Some people have questioned the validity of the entire story, while others have written many sermons speaking of the radical message of Grace.
This is the story of a woman who has been caught in adultery and brought before Jesus, who was in the middle of teaching to a crowd. Adultery was a crime punishable by death. With stones in hand, they have indicted her in front of Jesus. Awaiting His assumed guilty verdict, He pauses for a moment. His next words shocked everyone in the crowd. Perhaps one of my favorite phrases in the Bible is “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one from the oldest to the youngest, they all left. He gifts her with no condemnation, forgives her of her sins, and tells her to sin no more.
Think for a moment, the religious leaders of the day were trying to trap Jesus, to force His hand of judgment on this woman. They knew His past record of associating with the ‘worst kind of sinners.’ They were determined to invalidate the message that Jesus was presenting to the world. They were desperate to believe that there was a ranking system and that certain sins could be and should be considered worse than others. They were clinging to the notion that there had to be a point where even Jesus would say “too far.” Imagine the stunned look on their faces: this adulteress is now in the same category as the gossipers, the liars, the gluttons, the fearful, the anxious, the proud and haughty, the critical, and the judgmental.
The accusers have been silenced and have retreated. The question Jesus asks is “Did anyone condemn you?” She tells Him no. He says “Neither do I.” No condemnation. No disapproval or vilification. It was only acceptance, only Love. He stood up for her. His validation is what gave her the ability to “go and sin no more.”
Many translations say that the woman and Jesus are the only two remaining after His declaration. Where did the crowd go? Did they get caught up in the commotion? We see that the voice of grace and forgiveness became louder than the voice of rules and religion. When Jesus speaks, He will mute the sounds of anything that oppose His mercy. When the traps of rules and religion are set, Jesus will use those moments to speak directly to the hearts of mankind - no condemnation.