One on whom (or near whom) judgment has fallen
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again 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.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:3-12).
(Fourth of a Series)
Imagine the woman’s feelings as her accusers caught her red-handed. Stoning was the proper punishment for adultery. Not only does she face that fact, but before the judgment was to be carried out, a public spectacle was to be made of her. Only a very hardened individual would not cringe before all this. Judgment was about to fall.
Our Lord knew well the hypocrisy that drove the Pharisees to drag this ‘sinner’ before Him. A lesson must be taught them—and with that lesson comes the woman’s release.
Imagine the gloom gradually lifting from her as one by one her accusers went away, from the eldest on down. What relief! She knew well that she deserved judgment, but she was to have another chance. When she said, “No one, Lord,” it is hard not to see more in that word ‘Lord’ than mere respect for a good teacher!
Our Lord spoke the gospel good news, “Neither do I condemn you.” Then He reminded her of the obedience of faith, “Go, and do not sin again.” Our Lord, of course, could read hearts and knew her repentance. On our part, we are not privy to the feelings of another’s heart and must go by what a person does and says.
There is no question that a threatened judgment or disaster causes a person to reassess his life and doings. Years ago after a flood in a certain city, it was noted that church attendance was up considerably. People were shocked out of their sinful complacency. Reflecting on how people died and property was destroyed brought a change in people’s lives, and thus church attendance increased.
When we encounter people in such a case, we do not want to let them think they escaped because of their uprightness or innocence (remember, we are considering unbelievers). The woman was ’caught’ in adultery. She knew her guilt. So we want our prospect to grasp the fact of his or her unworthiness, and then point out the mercy of God that spares sinners. Our thrust is to proclaim the undeserved love and unmerited favor of our Lord. When the person knows his or her guilt under God’s law, we want to communicate what our Lord said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(Our next installment considers those “shocked” by a demonstration of love not in connection with a falling judgment.)