Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no-one condemned you?’ ‘No-one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’
John 8:10-11 (NIV)
Read: John 8:1-11
Consider: As Jesus taught in the temple courts, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees thought they had the perfect way to get Jesus to say something for which they could seek his death. They brought a woman caught in adultery, but notice that it was only the woman and not the man. I’ve often wondered where the man was. Had be already been stoned? Had he escaped and got away from those who caught them? It is clear from Leviticus 20:10 that both adulterers were to be treated identically. By bringing only the woman to Jesus her accusers were already ignoring the requirements of the law.
Notice that the question put to Jesus was being used as a trap. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees knew what the law said and weren’t really interested in Jesus’ opinion on the matter. If Jesus agreed with the law and the woman was stoned to death, it would have been easy to accuse him of having no compassion. If he disagreed with Moses, they would have accused him of contradicting the law and this charge against him would have been worthy of death in their eyes.
Jesus did not contradict what was said in the Mosaic Law. Instead he put the onus on the individuals there to examine their hearts to see who had the right to condemn her for what she had done. In John 8:9 we are told: 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. This would have included the religious elite (teachers of the law and the Pharisees), together with everyone who had gathered there to see and hear the spectacle unfolding before them. In the end no-one was left to condemn her. However, that is not exactly true. There was one person left who could have condemned her – Jesus himself. Think about it for a moment. Who has the right to judge and condemn a person for their sin? Only God! Jesus, as the Son of God, would have had the right to condemn this woman, but he close not to. Why?
Jesus’ reason for not condemning the woman cannot be because he identified himself as a sinner and therefore unable to condemn her. As God, Jesus was concerned that this woman should leave her life of sin and instead live a life pleasing to God. This is clear from what he says to her: Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no-one condemned you?’ ‘No-one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ (John 8:10-11).
The implication for us today is not to condone sin in others, but actively to pray that they would leave their life of sin and turn to God for forgiveness. If you find yourself condemning others for their sin, think on these words: ‘… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …’ (Romans 3:23).
Pray: Father, forgive us for a critical spirit that is quick to condemn sin in others, but to excuse it in ourselves. May we always be concerned to condemn sin, while seeking the salvation of the sinner. Amen