Jesus, Friend of Sinners

April 15, 2019

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And … He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11

All of us know that horrible moment of being caught in some sin. The consequences of it can be humiliating and shameful. How does God deal with us when we fail?

After the Feast of Tabernacles, hundreds of thousands of people remained in Jerusalem. Jesus was at the temple area early the next morning teaching again when suddenly a group of scribes and Pharisees burst into the crowd, dragging a woman. The Jews cast her before Jesus and said, “We caught this woman in the act of adultery. The Law says she should be stoned—what do You say?” (see John 8:4-5).

Of course, we have to wonder, Where was the man? The religious leaders clearly had no concern for righteousness. This scenario was intended to trap Jesus: If He pardoned the woman, He would violate the law of Moses. If He condemned her, He would subject Himself to Roman judgment since the Romans prohibited the Jews from carrying out capital punishment.

Trying To Trap Jesus

Jesus calmly acted as though the religious leaders were not there. He stooped down and began to write in the dirt with His finger. Bible teachers have guessed at what Jesus wrote, but I would speculate that Jesus was writing the Ten Commandments in the dirt, just as God did when He wrote with His finger on tablets of stone.

When the leaders pressured Jesus for an answer, He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7). If Jesus did write the Ten Commandments, the religious leaders were faced with them all. As they looked at them, each and every one came under conviction. The oldest among the group, who were probably the wisest, left first. One by one, they all departed.

Jesus said to the woman, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10). The term “woman” that Jesus used here is a gentle one. Imagine the contrast between Jesus and these men, who had literally dragged the woman out of an adulterous situation and thrown her at Jesus’ feet. “No one, Lord,” the woman replied, and Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11).

Representatives of Jesus

Jesus, interestingly, being the only sinless One in the bunch, was the only One qualified to stone the woman. But this One, who could have justifiably cast stones at the woman, said, “Neither do I condemn you.” As representatives of Jesus, our first approach to people should always be to draw them in through the love of God. To do this, we must keep in mind the fact that we too are sinners saved by grace.

In forgiving the woman, the Lord didn’t gloss over her sin. Before she left He told her, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He didn’t say, “Hey, don’t worry about it—no problem.” God is full of grace; He receives sinners. But He receives us in order to deliver us from the power of sin. Regarding our past sins, He tells us, “I don’t condemn you—I forgive you. But as far as the future goes, go and sin no more.”

Saved From the Power of Sin

In our day, the message that Jesus came to save us from the power of sin is being replaced with all kinds of philosophy and psychology. Subsequently, we have so much compromise in the church. But Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” And His command brings with it the power for us to obey.

We all sin to some degree. But while for the unbeliever sin is the rule, for the believer, sin is the exception. When we come to Christ, the power of sin is broken. We may stumble into sin because of weakness, but we don’t live consistently in sin any longer.

When we come to Jesus having sinned, His heart toward us is one of compassion. But never forget that in His forgiveness, there is with it the command to go and sin no more—and the power for us to do it. If you struggle to lay down some area of sin in your life, receive Jesus’ grace toward you, then take courage; deliberately lay aside your sin, and return to it no more.