“When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 (Read John 8:1-11)
The Biblical account of the woman who was caught in the act of committing adultery is an amazing portion of God’s Word to consider. The scribes and Pharisees were attempting to find grounds to accuse Jesus. So, they brought this woman to Jesus as He was teaching in the temple, saying that they had caught her in the very act of committing adultery and asking Jesus whether or not they should stone her to death as Moses commanded in the law (cf. Deut. 5:18; 22:22; Lev. 20:10).
Now the Law required that both the man who took another’s wife and the consenting woman be put to death. This raises the question as to why only the woman was brought in this particular case. Of course, the purpose of the scribes and Pharisees was to test Jesus. And Jesus’ response teaches us two important lessons.
Jesus wrote on the ground and told them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (v. 7), and then He again stooped down and wrote in the dirt. Verse 9 tells us that they went out of the temple one by one, starting with the oldest, being convicted by their own conscience, until, finally, Jesus was left alone with this woman. What Jesus wrote in the dirt, whether it be the commandments, the sins of this woman’s accusers, or something else, we don’t know; but all were convicted of their own sins and could no longer condemn this woman without condemning themselves (cf. Rom. 2:1ff.).
What can we learn from this? As sinners, none of us can judge and condemn another without also condemning ourselves (cf. Matt. 18:21ff.). Rather, we ought to be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). None of us are without sin, and all of us depend entirely upon God’s grace and mercy to us for the sake of Jesus Christ and His blood shed for us upon the cross. When we admonish sinners and preach against sin, our goal is not to condemn but urge sinners to join us in repentance and receiving God’s mercy in Christ Jesus!
We remember that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. … God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
Secondly, you and I can find great comfort in the fact that Jesus told this woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” If anyone could have condemned this woman, it was Jesus, the holy and righteous Son of God; but Jesus forgave her sin and told her to go and sin no more.
We can find comfort in this because we see that, no matter how great our sin, in Jesus we can find mercy and forgiveness; for He came into the world to fulfill the righteous demands of the law for us and to suffer upon the cross the just punishment demanded by God’s law for our sins. The Bible tells us: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24). Through faith in Jesus’ shed blood, sinners like you and me can find forgiveness from God and not be condemned (cf. John 5:24; Rom. 8:1).
Now, this does not mean that we can go on and sin freely since there is forgiveness in Christ, for Jesus says: “Go, and sin no more” (cf. Rom. 6:1ff.). As those who have been freely forgiven by Christ, we now want to serve Him and do His will. In this life, we will not be perfect — we will fail — but we continue to turn to Jesus for forgiveness and His help and strength to amend our sinful lives and live for Him (cf. 1 John 1:7—2:2).
O Dearest Jesus, we thank You for showing mercy to us sinners and pardoning our offenses for the sake of Your innocent sufferings and death on the cross. Grant that we not judge and condemn other sinners but share Your mercy and forgiveness with them so that we may join together in living our lives for You. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]