Remember the woman caught in adults and brought to the feet of Jesus for judgment? It’s found in John, Chapter 8. Somehow a few religious leaders caught this woman in the act of sin, in the very definition of immorality. They decided that they would make an example of her. They would expose her failures publicly in order to trap Jesus.
So the religious leaders dragged her before Jesus and asked him what should be done. Should they stone her as the Law required? Or let her go and simply ignore God’s Law and proper justice?
Jesus does not condemn her. If anything, he condemned her condemners. He pointed out that, in reality, they were not any holier than the woman. They needed grace and mercy and hope and forgiveness just as much as she did. So, one by one they slunk away in silent shame.
Here’s the important part. 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 declares. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11)
You can’t overestimate the significance of Jesus’s treatment of this woman and her sin. It was the polar opposite of how the Jews expected God to act. To them, God was a God of holiness, of righteousness, and of judgment. He was a perfect God who cared about the finest details of the Law. That was the message the Pharisees hammered into the people.
Again, this understanding is built on elements of truth: God is a holy God, and sin is an affront to His nature. Sin separates mankind from God, and it deserves punishment and death. This is precisely why Jesus came to the planet. He was not here to judge the woman. He was her to save her. He wasn’t her persecutor. He was her defence lawyer. So he let her go.
Was justice mocked? No, because ultimately He knew He would bear the punishment for the sin she was guilt of committing as well as every sin committed by every human throughout history. Including mine. Including yours.
How does Jesus react to our sin? The same way He reacted in this instance. He defends us. He protects. He dispels our accusers. And He gives us hope that we can live differently in the future.
What is fascinating to me about this woman is we don’t even knower name. We always call her “the woman caught in adultery.” Talk about a label. She is forever defined by her biggest blunder. At least to us. But that’s not how Jesus saw her that day. It’s not what God named her.
I think that when we get to Heaven, we will ask to meet this person named The Woman Caught In Adultery. And people will say, “Who? There is no one here by that name. Oh wait … Do you mean the person named The Woman Who Wasn’t Judged for Her Adultery? The one who’s known around here as The Woman Jesus Forgave? The person we like to call The Woman who Went and Sinned No More? She’s right over there. She goes by a different name now.”
Maybe it should be called “The Story of the Men Caught Throwing Stones.”
Maybe we should stop labeling people and thus pigeonholing them so we don’t have to deal with their uniqueness and difference. Instead, maybe we should simply love, accept, and forgive as Jesus did.