53 Then they all went home, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 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.”
Living God’s Word:
Perhaps, until now, these temple guards had been protected by their duties from coming face to face with Jesus and hearing his teachings. But here they found themselves exposed. Being confronted directly with the character and words of Jesus always makes a greater impact than we may imagine. God doesn’t limit his life-giving insights to the academically trained or the socially elite. Meeting and observing Jesus led these simple men to give a ringing testimony to Jesus among those who hated him. Our task is to present Christ so that others may see him in action and hear his remarkable testimony.
Words to Live By: The religious leaders who tried to trap Jesus were treating neither the sin nor the sinner with the necessary respect. The same blindness that caused them to not see their own sins made them unable to recognize who Jesus was. Behind their diligence to “keep the law” lay hidden the drive to protect their power. Their conflict of interest made them inept judges.
Sin calls for compassion as well as judgment. But final judgment is God’s prerogative alone. Sins may be abhorrent, but sinners have been offered forgiveness in Christ. When we must confront sin, we ought not condemn, but rather present the need and opportunity for forgiveness.
Prayer: O Lord, be merciful to me, a poor sinful being. Amen.