John 8:1-47: Freed to Live
Well, someone went and did it. Someone or a group of someones walked in on some other someones doing the dirty and decided just a woman was the most guilty party deserving of a good old fashion stoning.
Adultery is never good, but suffice it to say in modern-day America, individuals have gotten away with rape without worrying about losing very much, let alone having to worry about the death penalty for intercourse between two consenting adults.
In Israel, the situation was a little more grave, and the text doesn’t exactly go into great detail behind the back story of the adulterous affair. We don’t really need it in order to imagine the humiliation this woman must have suffered as she was dragged into the temple, accused of adultery with the potential of death looming.
It certainly wasn’t a respite…
The woman is brought to Jesus in order to trap him so the teachers of the law and the Pharisees could accuse him of something. But Jesus, the writer in the sand, waits. More questioning was followed by Jesus’ verdict, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
He returns to writing in the sand. The accusers disperse one at a time from a silent, slow, perhaps painful admission that they all are guilty of some infraction of the law. Jesus ruined their good time, or rather exposed that there are better options than stoning or permanent humiliation. Mercy, for instance, is a better option.
John 8:9: ”…until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.” Now the woman is faced with the only true and just judge. I want us to have this experience (not being caught in or committing adultery), the experience of being face to face alone with Jesus, completely exposed, confronted with our sin standing before the only one who can cleanse us of it.
I want to be face to face with God as judge and hear the merciful verdict, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus is not interested in condemnation, rather he wants reconciliation. Jesus offers freedom, but in order to be free, one must receive truth. In order to receive truth, one must subject themselves to walking in the light.
Walking in the light was not the way of the accusers of Jesus or this woman. They questioned Jesus’ every move and motive demanding a verdict in which only one answer would be acceptable.
They wanted Jesus to admit that he was not who he said he was because they could not bear to admit that they were not who they said they were. They were not the upholders of righteousness and justice they claimed to be because they did not know mercy. They only knew half of the heart of the Father. Yes, the Father is interested in correction and discipline but the Father is also interested in comforting and redemption.
Problems arise when we forget the kindness of God and when we forget what it means to be a child of God. Being a child of God means that we have a place at the table. It means we can see God the Father in Christ the Son and rejoice over the implications of the invitation to have a relationship with Jesus. It means that often we don’t have to die for the mistakes we make, but live because of the forgiveness Christ gave.