This woman in John 8 was caught sleeping with a man who was not her husband. The scribes and Pharisees dragged her into the temple and set her before Jesus. She was probably barely clothed (if clothed at all) and extremely embarrassed, hanging her head in shame. Because the scribes and Pharisees wanted to test Jesus to bring a charge against him, they asked Jesus, “Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do you say?”
Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with His finger. They kept asking Jesus, until, finally, Jesus stands up and says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus then bends down again to write on the ground. One by one, they started dropping their stones and walked away, starting with the older ones. Jesus was then left alone with the woman standing before Him.
Jesus speaks to the woman, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She says, “No one, Lord.” Then, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on, sin no more.”
This is one of my all-time favorite Bible stories. Why? Because of the very last thing Jesus says in the passage: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, sin no more.” I wish I could write this on a billboard for everyone to read. The concept behind such a message is central to who Jesus is and what He is about. Instead of condemnation, punishment, and death, Jesus generously offers second, third, and forty-seventh chances. He offers forgiveness and the gift of a brand new life. His statement is filled with encouragement and a chance for renewal of brokenness and sin.
We don’t know what happened to this woman after her encounter with Jesus. We don’t know the choices she made or the paths she chose to take. There are so many unanswered questions. However, we DO know that she was set free and left the temple a pure, forgiven, sinless woman with a clean slate. She was given another chance to do better, and I like to hope that she did.
When we come to Jesus with sin, guilt, and shame, he offers the exact same thing to us. It’s important to notice, though, that Jesus’ forgiveness is accompanied by instruction and action. “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1) True forgiveness comes as a byproduct of a repentant heart: a 180° change in lifestyle. Forgiveness is a critical component of Jesus’ message, but an even more critical component is the change on OUR part.
One of my favorite verses comes from Psalm 124: 7-8. “We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” With the blood of Christ, we have been set free from the bondage of slavery to sin. What an incredible gift that calls for a celebration!
What a beautiful moment of impact. A moment of undeserved freedom. An act of love, kindness, and instruction that will change a life forever. May we all learn from the example of our Lord not only a lesson in forgiving each other, but also that we are loved enough to be given a second chance to stand up, clean off our scraped knees, and try again.