And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:11)

Today’s Gospel is, for me, perhaps the most powerful I hear every time I hear it. John 8:1-11, the woman caught in adultery, sentenced to death by Mosaic law and brought before Jesus for Him to condemn as well. And when the Pharisees bring her forward, Jesus does this strange thing. He begins writing in the sand. While nowhere in history is recorded exactly what He was writing, many Biblical scholars have a strong idea. In the middle of writing, He stops, and He asks the accusers this question: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then, He goes back to writing. One by one the accusers drop their stones, and walk away. Jesus then absolves the woman of her sins and sends her to go and sin no more. What was He writing? Many Biblical scholars have surmised He was writing the sins of those who brought the woman before Him. Only when He stops writing and asks them the question, do they look down and see their sin laid out before them. Sins they had kept locked deep in the recesses of their hearts and told no one. Perhaps some of them came to the realization that this could ONLY be God and had a conversion. Others, may simply have been ashamed and run away. And Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law, does not judge the woman, He shows mercy, forgives and sends her to sin no more. In our fallen human state, we easily become the Pharisees. We want JUSTICE!!! against all who are wrong and who have hurt us. We want to believe that we are different from “those people” because our sin is different. But Jesus shows all of us mercy, compassion and forgiveness. And here’s the thing: sometimes we don’t deserve it. But He gives it freely. Years ago, at the sentencing in Washington State of Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, Ridgway sat stoically, emotionless as one after another of his victims’ family members, in their righteous anger denounced him, swore at him and wished him death. Finally, a man with a long white beard in overall’s the father of one of his victims, came up and quietly said that Ridgway challenged his core beliefs as a Christian, but that he had to follow what he believed and as such, he forgave Ridgway. At this, Ridgway broke down and began sobbing. Mercy and forgiveness has broken through his demeanor and heart, not hatred and judgment. The Psalmist writes, “In the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption. (Psalm 130)” We will always bring others to Christ through mercy, not judgment. And we ought to remember His mercy toward us, even when, and especially when, it is more convenient for us to judge others.

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One thought on “And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:11)

  1. Nicely conveyed. This passage always comes to mind when I see folks resort to the old, “judge not” line of defense. I am reminded Jesus did not turn a blind, nonjudgmental eye to her sin, but forgave her and then admonished her to walk away from her sinful life. Forgiveness is powerful.

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