At dawn [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 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.
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.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Happy New Year! I wonder how many of us have made our annual New Year’s Resolutions, intent on keeping them this year. Have you resolved to exercise more or eat healthier? Have you decided to be more intentional about the time you spend with your family? Have you determined that you will spend more time in prayer and in the Word of God? Check, check and check! These are all on my list. But I’m not calling them “resolutions”. I am looking at them more as “fresh stars”or “do overs”. As the new year begins, and quite frankly as each new day begins, I am forever thankful that God is a God of fresh starts and do overs. — “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Isaiah 43:18-19 *Hallelujah*
I love the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. (John 8) You can picture the scene. Jesus was hanging out by the temple getting ready to give another one of his sermons and people were flocking to hear what he had to say, knowing they would learn something life-changing. Suddenly the righteous Pharisees came storming in. They were the ones who were so “godly” in their own minds. The ones that were always sure to cross all of their t‘s and dot all of their i‘s when it came to the religious laws. As they approached Jesus you could see they were clinging to a clearly broken and ashamed woman who had been caught in the disgraceful act of adultery. It wasn’t a rumor or a suspicion. She had been caught and the Pharisees were all too eager to exact her punishment right there in public. And they were hoping the reputation of this merciful Jesus would precede him and they would finally have him trapped, as well.
Jesus’ response is both a refreshing one for those of us that need a fresh start and a convicting one for those of us that are a bit too judgemental. (I’ll put myself in both camps!) He doesn’t downplay her sin. After all it was Jesus who said that not only was the act of adultery a sin, but even looking at someone with lust would make you guilty. (Matthew 5:27-28) Instead he makes clear a couple of very important points.
First of all, he highlights for the Pharisees the fact that they do not have the ultimate right to judge her due to the fact that they have their own sins to deal with. Jesus does, of course, have this right and he will be coming back to impose final judgement on everyone. Fortunately for those of us that have accepted him as our Savior, he also paid the price for our sins so our judgement has been taken care of.
Secondly, he tells the guilty woman to go and leave her life of sin. He doesn’t just give her a hug and say “It’s o.k. I love you just the way you are.” I have heard it said that God loves us too much to leave us as we are. He wants us to see our sin as he sees it. Ugly and destructive. Then he wants us to repent and allow him to make us new. We will never be sinless, but we have to acknowledge our sin. We have to call it what it is and turn away from it. Only then are we able to start fresh and allow God to renew us.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17