February 5 – Compassion – A woman in need of grace and truth

Read John 8:1-11

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  (v. 11)

While there is some question as to whether this section of John was part of the originally inspired writing of John, one must admit the content is consistent with the ministry of Jesus.  In fact, the final words of this section cited above depict the words of John 1 —  Jesus is “full of grace and truth.”  But let’s go back in the story as we allow our appreciation for grace and truth to grow.

It was early morning in Jerusalem.  Not too early, however, that people were not up and about.  In fact, a crowd had already gathered in the temple.  They were assembled to listen to Jesus as He taught.

Earlier still, scribes and Pharisees had been busily scheming.  Imagine the embarrassment as they brought in a woman caught in the very act of adultery!  Their scheme was to bring the woman to Jesus . . . not so much out of their own uncertainty of what they should do, but in order to test Jesus.  How would He weigh in on the teaching of the Old Testament law?

The law clearly gave them the freedom to initiate a stoning.  The woman could be put to death for her activity.  Most likely, the scribes and Pharisees thought they had Jesus trapped.  If He said to stone her, the crowds that had become accustomed to His grace-filled teaching would flee.  If He said to let her go, they would accuse Him of being no friend of the law.

As you know, He gave permission to stone her with the qualifier that the first to throw was to be without sin.  No one qualified.  All of the accusers left.  The only ones left center stage were Jesus and the woman.  She stood, perhaps, head down in her shame.  He stood as the only sinless person . . . as the One who, according to His own qualifier, had the right to initiate the stoning.  Instead, He extended grace – “Neither do I condemn you” – and truth – “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

That tender balance and those twin realities are to be part of the message and the experience of Christ’s unstoppable church.

Steve Kern

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