But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’
This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’
And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” John 8:1-11
When it comes to encounters with Jesus that leave chills, this encounter has to be among the top of the list. There is a lot to unpack in this encounter, such as the fact the Pharisees attempted to trick Jesus. Also, note that the Pharisees only brought the woman before Jesus, when adultery consists of at least two people. Of all the unpacking that could be done, this encounter has a one-liner from Jesus that has been repeated throughout history, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.”
Then Jesus drops the mic. For those of us who walk with Christ we always get so hyped when Jesus says that because we know he put the Pharisees in their place. While the burn on the Pharisees is a great part of this encounter, one of the greatest moments comes when Jesus interacts with the woman wrestling with shame and judgement.
I do not know about you, but I sin. As well-behaved and focused on Jesus as I try to be, I still end up sinning. It wears me out! I get worn out because I feel as though there is no way Jesus should keep extending me grace and forgiveness for my sins. Yet, when I sin I can hear the same words Jesus told this woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Those words hit the heart unlike any other.
Jesus had every right to condemn this woman, and He has every right to condemn us. Jesus is perfect. Jesus knows no sin despite facing temptation. Jesus is the only person in the history of humanity who could throw a stone at someone. Another aspect of this encounter is Jesus might not have thrown a stone at this woman, but He threw a Rock.
The woman in this encounter was hit by the grace, forgiveness, and kindness of the Rock. God is called a Rock throughout history. Several psalmists wrote to God referring to Him as a Rock for them. One of my favorite instances can be found in Deuteronomy 32:4, “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.”
Jesus the Rock is exactly who this woman needed in this moment. I cannot imagine the embarrassment and shame this woman felt as she was dragged out in front of Jesus. I cannot imagine the fear she had as she was placed in front of a crowd clutching stones ready to provide justice for the sin she committed. While we may not know exactly how the woman felt in those moments, we should be able to know the feeling she had when Jesus told her she was not condemned.
For those of us who are walking with Jesus, we have heard these words. The moment we came to recognize Jesus for who He is, He spoke those words to us. We no longer need to live enslaved to condemnation. Our sins are not held against us, even when the world tries to remind us of them, Jesus reminds us He does not. Paul reminded us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus’ final words to this woman are, “Go; and from now on sin no more.” In this life we know to live without sin is impossible, but encounters with Jesus show us He is the better choice. Every time we feel temptation coming upon us, we can run to the Rock that is higher (Psalm 61).
Let the words of Jesus repeat in your heart and mind: “Neither do I condemn you…” Where do you need to be reminded of those words?
Father, I pray that in those moments when the world tries to condemn me, I hear Your tender voice reminding me I am not condemned in Your eyes. Help me to cling to the Rock when temptation arises, and make the choice to focus on You. I love You, Father, and pray in Your holy name, Amen.
PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.