I can’t imagine the humiliation the woman in John 8 felt being put in front of a crowd of people, Jesus’ teaching interrupted, and her accusers putting all the attention on her. The scribes and Pharisees were looking on her only as an instrument whereby they could formulate a charge against Jesus. They didn’t even bother to bring the man who was also at fault.

Of course, Jesus saw through their trap, but more than that he saw this woman’s humiliation and felt compassion for her. As though he didn’t even hear them, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. He acted as if did not hear their accusations, trying to calm down the tension at the scene but also out of concern for the woman’s dignity and safety. Jesus didn’t respond to the accusing men, instead he did everything he could to make things less tense. We know how the story goes, Jesus eventually stood up straight and asked any man without sin to throw the first stone at the woman, because her sin required stoning to death by their law.

Jesus’ clear message was no one has the right to condemn someone else for their sin. He even showed patience for their self-righteousness while causing them to look at themselves. . He did not come to judge or condemn the lost but to pay the price for their sin with his own blood. All of the accusers left one by one and the woman looked in Jesus’ loving, compassionate eyes as he asked her ” Where are your accusers?” “Has no one condemned you?” And she answers “No one, Lord.” Notice she calls him Lord. And he responds, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” The woman – guilty of sin, and a great sin – knew the goodness of having no condemnation. She passed from sin and a death sentence to forgiveness and hope.

The woman needed hope because the consequences of her sin would be severe enough. After this, she would likely be shunned by her community, and rejected by her husband, perhaps even divorced (assuming she was married or betrothed).

God’s mercy reaches out to all who are willing to admit the need for forgiveness. Scripture clearly teaches us that we all have that need. Isaiah said it this way…“All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him.” (53:6) His mercy never fails and his love never ends.

Deb Hill

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