It was early in the morning, Jesus was teaching in a seated position. The mob of elite “law writers” and “religious men” brought a woman, making her to stand in front of Jesus and all that were hearing Him.
The appearance of the woman, her attitude, nor her demeanor are shared for the record. The men declared her guilty and worthy of death by stoning. They said she had committed adultery and was “caught in the very act”. They offered her no opportunity for defense or appeal. Their focus was on Jesus and they wanted to know his verdict about her punishment.
Jesus did not speak or question the validity of the woman’s act, the right of the men to bring her, or the punishment he thought should be administered. He bent down and with his finger began writing on the ground. The accusers continued persistently questioning what punishment Jesus would pronounce on this woman. “What should be done with her?” They demanded to know.
As Jesus stood up, He declared with a calm tone, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he resumed writing in the sand with his finger.
The record says each individual around left, from the oldest to the youngest. Only Jesus and the woman were left. Jesus asked the woman, not about her sin, her circumstance, her reason, or anything about her. He wanted to know, “where are they? Did no one condemn you?” Jesus asked the woman about the people who determined she was guilty and worthy of punishment.
“No one, Lord”, came the woman’s reply. No one is here to administer punishment to me. I am not being stoned. I am experiencing no penalty for my guilty state.
Jesus declared, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17) The influence of God and reality of what God had done were realized in the Person of Jesus Christ. He does not pronounce judgment. He did not come in the world to judge. He came into the world to save.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.John 3:16-18
The declaration of the woman calling Jesus “Lord”, demonstrated her belief of Him being her Savior. She realized He was her Redeemer. He was the one who would take away her sin. He was the one sent by God to take away the punishment she deserved for the crime she had committed. She understood she was guilty before God and deserving of death. Yet she had the “Light of Life” in front of her. This glow of God in Christ Jesus clearly declared, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Guilt was evident in the woman’s life. She had been caught. She was due punishment for her crime. But Jesus did not administer the punishment. It would be only a few short years later on the cross, Jesus would receive the punishment for the woman’s crime. The sin of the woman would be laid upon Him. The chastisement she deserved would be placed upon Jesus. The same hand who wrote on the ground and scattered all those who wanted her stoned, would be the same hand who would carry the cross and receive the spike of death.
In the Temple that day, the woman experienced the kindness and favor of God first-hand. She was guilty of a crime worthy of death. Yet, the only one qualified to administer the punishment, said “I do not condemn you.” Instead, he instructed her, “Go and sin no more.” It is not God’s will any perish, but all come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) Jesus’ desire for the woman that day was that she live. He wanted her to have a change of mind, which would change her behavior. He wanted her to think differently. He wanted her to be different. He told her, “Go and sin no more”.
Jesus had “taken her punishment away from her”. He had enabled her to walk away “free of guilt”. He scattered the stoners and gave her freedom to walk away. His instruction is critical to her continual freedom, however. Jesus told her to not sin. He told her to act in a blameless way. He requested a change in her life. He wanted her to display “different”. The word “repentance” 2 Peter 3:9 means “change in the inner man”. When Jesus told the woman to “Go and sin no more”, He was requesting her to show a “change in her inner being”.
How is this possible? How is it possible for her to change inwardly? Romans 2:4 tells us the kindness and favor of the Lord is designed to lead men to repentance. It was the grace of Jesus shown to the woman in the temple that “made her want to change”. It caused her to regret the way she had been living before. It displayed the beauty of God in Christ Jesus and attracted her to the “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
The record of the woman’s sin was remembered no more against her. She was blameless because she trusted in Jesus who took her sin. The punishment for her was not postponed, put off until a later time. The crime she had done, which was worthy of death, was taken away from her by Jesus.
What crimes have you done? What are you guilty of committing? What could you “stand in the midst” and be accused of doing? We all are guilty before God. God who is “perfection personified” in Jesus Christ could never have anyone measure up to Him. He was the very essence of God in character and demeanor. The ones who followed Him closely beheld His greatness, kindness, and truthfulness. There was no lie found in Him, no deceit, and no evil.
All the attitudes and actions of Jesus, the Savior of the World, were perfect, pleasing, and acceptable to God. Because God loved every guilty sinner, He sent his Beauty of Perfection into the world to stand in the place of this guilty woman and every one else who has ever lived, including you and me. Jesus took the punishment we all deserved when He was hung on the cross for the crimes we had done. He shed His life’s blood for even us.
The woman called Jesus “Lord”. Do you call Jesus “Lord” today? Do you hear Jesus tell you, “Go and sin no more”? Do you see the grace of God in His kindness to send Jesus to take away the sins of the world, including yours? Do you believe on Him to be your Savior? Have you seen Him speak a change in your inner man? Has the Person of Jesus Christ appeared to you in His grace that teaches you to not give place to sin and live godly today?
Just as the woman had to continue in the change Jesus made in her life, we must continue in the change. We must keep walking in the light as Jesus is in the light. (1 John 1:7)
Experience God’s grace in your life today as this woman experienced it. Continue to walk in the light of Jesus today as you continually experience His grace.
Written by: Anne Gurley