In John 8 there is the account of the Woman Caught in Adultery. You will recall that Jesus is teaching His disciples and the Pharisees interrupt Him in order to put before Him the Woman caught in the very act of Adultery. We never know her name, where she is from or really anything about her other than the fact that she was committing a sexual sin. She is literally defined by her sin – even our Bibles usually headline this passage as Jesus and the Adulterous Woman, inadvertently further branding her.
Do we ever feel this way? Do we feel that there is nothing about us that is important other than the guilt shame and filth that we are mired in because of a sin issue? That we walk around like struggling under the weight of our great sin and that it takes everything to keep from giving in under the burden and just collapsing?
What’s more, the Pharisees and Religious leaders would like nothing more than to have this be the end of the story. They would love for her sin to have victory over her and destroy her. They and the god of this world who is acting through them want to keep the woman as just the Adulterous Woman, to keep her defined by her sin. Jesus came to set the captives free and they want to keep the captives just where they are — in prison, dying under the weight of their sinful humanity. Seeing her die under a hail of stones would be the second best ending of this story according to the folks who were supposed to be the leaders of God’s Chosen People. They drag her in front of Jesus as a prop, a tool to trap Jesus with the hope that putting her before Jesus ends with the destruction of Jesus or the destruction of the woman — either outcome would be ok with them. Always a good reminder for us – to sin we are just a tool, disposable, worthless, to be chewed up and spit out when convenient. This is truly what Satan thinks of us and he would be happy to destroy this woman through her sin.
But then something curious happens – Jesus looks at the woman and He sees her with His eyes, not those of Satan, the Pharisees or the world. He looks at her with eyes of love and not hate. He sees a woman who has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. A woman in need of someone to save her from herself and the world that would destroy her. He sees someone who needs a Savior – as His awesome plan would have it, she just so happens to be forced to stand in front of the Savior! While the crowd is reviling her, using her and thinking she is the lowest of the low, Jesus welcomes her and loves her.
How do we know this? Jesus explains in His own words over and over again in the Gospels that He loves even the worst of sinners. He depicts Himself and the Father as being actively in pursuit of sinners just waiting eagerly and with love for them to return to Him so heaven can rejoice. From the Prodigal Son to the Lost Sheep to Jesus saying that He came for the sick and not the well, Jesus is always looking with love on sinners no matter what they are doing eagerly awaiting their turning back to Him so He can do what He came to do. Save them. So that they can receive His mercy and grace in their time of need.
Jesus never defines us by our sin — that is Satan – Jesus always looks at us and simply sees a lost sheep who needs to come to Him — particularly when we are weary and burdened and in need of rest.
So Jesus looks at the woman and sees a woman who is caught in her sin and desperate and He loves her. Did you never notice it is His words that make the accusers leave – John 8:.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At 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.
Jesus makes those who are her accusers go away. He protects her and shields her. He is her fortress and salvation, her strong tower in her time of need. She looks to Him and stands with Him while the accusers are compelled to slip away to their homes and their sin one by one.
Because she stays when everyone else has gone and looks to Jesus, only Jesus as her judge, her final authority and her Lord, she walks away freed:
10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Do you feel powerless? Do you feel defined by your sin? Are you the adulterous or drunken or porn addicted or stealing man or woman? Stand before Jesus, look to Him as your authority, call Him Lord and mean it and you will walk away free to leave your life of sin behind. Even if it is tremendously painful to get to Jesus face to face, the woman paid a huge price to reach Jesus, get there and be loved by Him.