3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
It is easy for us to hear this story and gain an exaggerated view of the characters involved. Surely, the religious crowd was comprised of intolerable fanatics. Certainly this woman must have been characterized by loose-living and low standards.
But, that might also be our spin and quick judgment on the kind of people that get into these situations. What if it were you judging the woman or if you were caught up in sin and publicly exposed? What sort of person falls into this sin and what sort of person is quick to judge? Maybe there is no difference and we all are guilty of both sinning and judging. We have been the Law enforcer and we have been the guilty offender.
Think about the implications of Law and mercy in this story.
1. Equal application, not just to those who were caught.
- The Law was just as severe with the sinful accuser as it was with the sinfully accused.
- Jesus saw through their spiritual bullying and the absentee partner who was not called into question.
2. He found a way to bring mercy into the life of the offender.
- Make no mistake about it-- she was guilty. But accusation was not bringing her restoration or freedom. It was overwhelming her and intensifying her shame.
- Her greatest need at this moment of crisis was mercy.
3. The guilty offender needed an opportunity to find release from shame.
- Accusation theology leaves no room for release from shame and guilt. Once guilty, always shamed and persecuted.
- They were not about to give her a way out or through her problem.
4. He involved the offender in restoration to society by asking her to see the acceptance and release He offered.
- She was given a fresh hope of growing into a new reputation.
- Many times we want offenders to suffer consequences without offering a hope for acceptance and release from shame. We want them to stay focused on their failure to society, as if shame will produce righteous behavior!