Profiles of Forgiveness: Adulterous Woman

For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about forgiveness in the Bible.  The first Monday in October we talked about Joseph.  Week 2 we talked about David. Last week we talked about Jonah.  This week we’re taking a look at a New Testament woman.

John 8 shares the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery.  The pastors of the day brought this woman to Jesus that they caught having extramarital sex (no mention is made of the man).   According to Jewish laws, this wasn’t a good thing to do.  So the pastors brought this woman to Jesus and asked him what he thought should be done (Jewish law says she should be stoned).  Jesus leans down and wrote something in the dirt and then said “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” and then he wrote some more in the dirt.  Well, it turns out none of those pastors had been perfect, so one by one they left the scene until Jesus was left with the woman and the crowd.  Jesus says to the woman “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.””

What a strange story.  I’ve been amazed by this story for years and have taught several studies on it.  I just have two thoughts for you today:

-“I don’t condemn you either.”  It’s been said since the early Old Testament (around Joseph’s time) that the idea is to not have sex outside marriage.  Jesus and God established that rule, and yet Jesus says here that he doesn’t condemn the woman.  So if she did do something wrong, why does Jesus let her go?

-we all need forgiveness.  For whatever tricks the pastors were trying to pull here, Jesus knew who the woman really was.  He knew her situation, he knew her shame and he loved her.  Most days we do things that need forgiving, and if we were dragged in front of Jesus I think we would feel like she did.  At the end of the day I don’t think that what really matters is the error.  It’s that we seek or offer forgiveness.  It’s not about doing right all the time, it’s about knowing that we’re human, accepting our mistakes and living lives actively forgiving each other.  Should we try to do right?  Yes, of course.  But it’s simply not possible to always be right in God’s eyes right now.

This week I encourage you to not ignore the error, but to look past it and see the broken and hurting person behind it; they could use a friend.


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