John 8:1-20; 2 Chronicles 1:1-2:16; Zechariah 14
It’s a story everyone knows. A woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus and by the time Jesus is finished, all the accusers slink away and the woman goes away unjudged and redeemed. Many who recount this story, though, forget the whole context. “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11) Jesus didn’t condemn her – He was getting ready to die for her and for others. He did judge her however, just as he judged all of her accusers. Those accusers were sent slinking away by a very simple phrase – he who is without sin may cast the first stone. When the crowd became Jesus and the woman He looked at her, told her he didn’t condemn her either and then issued a command: “go and sin no more.” Jesus had to judge her to tell her to stop sinning. It was only with that judgment, however, that His forgiveness and mercy made sense. If someone does nothing wrong, they don’t need mercy or forgiveness. Grace is unnecessary. When Jesus told her that He didn’t condemn her, he implied that He could – but chose not to. Jesus comes to us the same way. Our sins may be of a different nature than that of the woman forgiven of adultery, but in a world where we are quick to condemn others Jesus still gives us grace and forgiveness. Still, that lingering command rings through His mercy: “Go and sin no more.” Those are words of judgment but not condemnation. Those are words of mercy and grace because they recognize our sin and yet give us encouragement to live in God’s way. Like the woman forgiven of adultery, we all stand before God able to be condemned. And just like He did with this woman, God says to us, “I don’t condemn you. I forgive you. Now, go and sin no more.”
Lord, my sin separates me from You. I stubbornly go my own way and fall away from Your plan for my life. When I stand before You on a daily basis, You could so easily condemn me – yet You forgive me. Every day You tell me to sin no more – every day I fall away. Please continue to forgive me and give me the strength to live each day with Your power to resist sin.