Read: John 8
Jesus said to [the adulterous woman], “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
If I were writing this story instead of John, the scene would have called for Jesus to order down fire from heaven to torch this nasty bunch of Pharisees who had brought the adulterous woman before the Lord. At the very least, I would have had Jesus snatching the poor lady from their grasp and beaming over to Galilee to set her free. That would have made a great story—Oscar-worthy, I’m sure!
But as we’ve come to expect of Jesus, he does the unexpected. Instead of special effects and edge-of-your-seat drama, he simply stoops over and writes in the sand. Do you ever wonder what he wrote? “Jesus was here!” or perhaps the Ten Commandments, or better yet, a list of the Pharisees’ secret sins or the names of their mistresses?
Whatever it was, the religious “Nazis” kept pressing until finally he said, “Look, if any of you are without sin, you can be the first one to throw a stone at her.” Then he began to scribble again, and with those words, Jesus lobbed a grenade into their midst that exploded their self-righteousness. Now defenseless, one-by-one the Pharisees, from the oldest to the youngest, walked away, leaving only Jesus and this sinful woman.
Now what would happen to the adulterous woman? Could she expect to get preached at again, some more condemnation, another helping of humiliation and a pile of rejection? That had been the pattern so far. Instead, Jesus gently asks, “Where are your accusers? Has no one judged you guilty?”
She replied, “Sir, they’re gone…they didn’t judge me guilty.”
Then Jesus lobbed another grenade—this one a grace-grenade that utterly exploded this sinful woman’s self-condemnation and turned her sad world right-side up: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
So just what was it that Jesus wrote in the sand? I think it is highly likely that he bent over and with his finger, etched these words: “Not guilty!”
A few weeks later, Jesus again wrote those very same words in the sand. This time it was not with his finger, but with blood that dripped from his nail-pierced hands and feet, leaving an indelible stain on the ground at the foot of the cross. This time it wasn’t just meant for an adulterous woman, it was meant for unfaithful, guilty people like you and me:
“Not Guilty. Paid in full. Completely forgiven.”
I don’t know what that grace-explosion does for you, but it makes me want to “go and sin no more.”
“This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners, for by a wonderful exchange our sins are now not ours but Christ’s, and Christ’s righteousness is not Christ’s, but ours.” ~Martin Luther
What If God Took Over?
Have you thanked the Lord lately for his grace—grace that has covered all of your sins! Perhaps now would be a great time to do that. And maybe today would be a great day to extend his grace to another undeserving sinner like you.