Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’
Medical doctors and counselors tell us that a great deal of sickness, both mental and physical, is brought on by the fact that people carry around a tremendous burden of unresolved guilt. As creations of God, we long for His forgiveness, even though we don’t even recognize the need. Hear a story of forgiveness.
The woman was being shoved and jostled along the dusty road. Her long, dark hair was covering her face. She could see little. She had stumbled and fallen several times and the brush burns on her elbows and knees stung.
The men harassing her called her terrible names as they roughly pushed her along. They were taking her to the right place – the church. They were taking her to the right person – Jesus. But, they were taking her there for all the wrong reasons.
The men were well dressed, finely appointed religious leaders. On the outside, they were excellent examples of the best religion had to offer, but on the inside, they were dead and filthy.
They had found this woman in the act of adultery and were anxiously anticipating stoning her to death. Thinking to entrap Jesus with a violation of the law at the same time, they took the woman to the temple where Jesus was teaching.
In response to their question about the death sentence on this woman, Jesus at first ignored them and then began writing in the dirt with His finger. The woman cowered terrified that she would be stoned to death within minutes. She dared not lift her eyes to meet any of theirs.
Jesus knew her fear – He could see it. But since He was God, He also knew her heart and the hearts of the pompous men judging her. Jesus looked at the adulterous woman as He looks at you and me. He was filled with love for this woman He had created just a few years before. Maybe as He wrote on the ground, He thought of you and me, people He would create 2000 years later.
His eyes met the eyes of the religious leaders. He looked into the emptiness of their hearts. He made a simple statement that carried with it the authority from heaven and said, “If you have not sinned, you can throw the first stone.” Those men convicted by the irrefutable authority of the Lord walked away – one by one.
Then His eyes met the frightened eyes of the woman. He asked her where her accusers were. Upon her reply, He performed a remarkable miracle. He forgave her.
God’s miracle of forgiveness continues 2000 years later. During this Lenten season confess your need for God’s forgiveness. By the grace of Jesus Christ – you are forgiven!
Father – We confess our need for forgiveness and gratefully receive it. May we forgive those who have “trespassed against us” as you have forgiven us.