Caught in the Act

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She was guilty. Caught in the act. Forced to stand before a large crowd of people as her sin of adultery was broadcasted for all to hear. Humiliated. Ashamed. Frightened. Expecting death. Vulnerable.

Her soul was of no concern to her accusers. She was merely a tool used by powerful, hostile men for one reason. They trapped her because they wanted to trap Jesus.

Jesus knew it all. He recognized the adultery of the woman and He recognized the exploitation by the men. He even knew the face of the adulterous man who was also guilty. And Jesus, unlike us, knew the reasons why the accusers neglected to bring the man to trial.

The story in John 8:1-11 continues with the accusers saying, “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

Jesus’ response…He bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger.

The accusers persisted. So Jesus straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw the stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

He had reminded the men of another command in the Law.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

”No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus never said “It’s ok.” He didn’t excuse her sin. He didn’t ignore it or condone it. But He did offer a fresh start. A second chance. Opportunity. Hope.

He offers each of us forgiveness. But He expects something in return. Transformation…a change of heart…obedience. After repentance, Jesus tells us to move on, change our ways and don’t return.

He’s filled with grace but firm in His command for purity. He’s the definition of love but never ignores truth and justice.

Each of us has been caught in acts of sin by the One who sees all. We choose our personal response to God’s forgiveness. Humility? Gratefulness? Obedience?

And how we respond personally must affect how we treat others caught in sin. Jesus tells us, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged” (Matthew 7:2). We are taught that if a fellow believer is “caught in a sin, restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1).

There is a time and place for confronting sin of fellow followers of Christ, but it absolutely must come from a place of humility and gentleness, recognizing that we are all sinners saved by grace. Our approach must be accompanied by a heart that cares, never with an arrogant and condemning spirit. It’s how Jesus approached both the woman AND her accusers.

Jesus is the only one in the crowd who had the right to throw stones. He was the only one without sin. He could have pressed this truth by picking up a stone and declaring, “Only I have this right” as He hurled stones at the guilty woman. But no. He chose grace, mercy, compassion and a second chance.

I can think of so many times that God had every right to zap me into dust. My arrogance towards Him, flaunting of my idolatry, my self centered attitude…the list goes on and on. But no. He gave me the same gifts He gave the adulterous woman.

May my life reveal my gratefulness.

Questions to ponder:

How do I resemble the immoral woman? How do I resemble the self righteous, unloving Pharisees?

Am I quick to examine my sin before I look at the sin of others? Or do I excuse or try to justify my own sin?

 

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