John 8: 1-11
Jesus was teaching at the temple at dawn and I don’t know about you but I am a firm believer that nothing good ever happens at dawn…so Jesus must have been that good because there was crowd gathered there. And in came these religious guys…. These teachers of the law and Pharisees- they were the guys everyone looked to so as to know what a life following God should look like. They walked in dragging a woman like a trash bag! It is as if they looked at Jesus and said “Jesus meet ho – ho meet Jesus.” Awkward! She was caught in the very act of adultery! Like the Puritans who used to make women who committed adultery wear the scarlet letter A to identify them by their wrongdoings-these religious men were identifying this woman as a complete slut right there in front of everybody! Talk about a walk of shame!
In the day and culture this took place, if someone committed adultery it was believed that they should be stoned. So these guys put Jesus to the test:“we should stone her, what do you say Jesus?!!” They were using her as a tool like a lot of other men probably had, but they were doing it this time to accuse Jesus.
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.
Alone with Jesus, she is probably still wondering if her punishment awaited her and look at what Jesus says….Does He say, “once a slut always a slut” or “you made your bed now lie in it” ? No! He says… “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. Neither do I condemn you. You don’t deserve to be called all the names they called you or you called yourself. You don’t deserve to be identified by your wrongdoings. You won’t get the punishment you expected! Jesus put behind her what identified her. Jesus put behind her the things others held onto. Jesus put behind her all the shame and all the guilt. And then He laid before her a new direction and way to go….
Go and sin no more.
I have always read this in a negative light. Go and sin no more! But as I studied it, one commentator says it translates go and live differently. The thing about Jesus is that He loves us so much so that he can’t leave us where we have been. His love would be no love at all if this story ended with Jesus saying the words: Neither do I condemn you and then she returned to this relationship and this way of living that was destructive and painful for her and her family. Jesus loves us too much to leave us there. Not just in adultery…Jesus loves us too much to leave us in our judgmental religious stuffiness. Jesus loves us too much to leave us in our insecurities. Jesus loves us too much to leave us in our unhealthiness. He loves us too much to leave us in our empty pursuits. Living differently are words we all know we need to live out. Jesus says to us what he said to her. Go and live differently. We talk a lot about believing in Jesus, but Jesus believed in her.
He believed in her that it was possible to live differently than she had been! Think about that… God believes we can experience change and transformation to go and live better lives! I am sure this woman and her children and their children would look back and be forever grateful that Jesus collided with her and didn’t just leave her where she was but instead put her A behind her, turning it into an arrow beckoning her forward in a new direction!