I would like to tell you a story I have read many times. It is an old story, written very long ago, a story that everyone should know. It is a story, about a woman who lived in a different culture from ours. A culture that did not encourage, nor accept adultery. This culture actually made it a serious crime to commit adultery, the punishment being death by stoning.

The woman I had read about, knew the consequences if she were caught committing adultery. It seemed though, even with that knowledge, she still was unable to stop. She may have secretly met a man, and maybe spent the whole night with him. Everytime she did this, did she think in the back of her mind, “what if I get caught?” But even with this thought in her mind, she could not stop.

While thinking about this woman, and what she had done, makes me ask this question. How should we judge this woman? Before you answer, let me tell you the rest of the story.

One day her greatest fear happened, she got caught, right in the act. And worse yet, she had been caught by people who knew what punishment for adultery was.

At this time another man was in the city, called the Teacher. He was known to be well versed in the law of that day. Those who caught this woman, in the act of adultery, seeked him out, and dragged this woman, throwing her at his feet. They told him that they had caught her right in the act of adultery. At this point, she knew the trial had begun and this man at whose feet she kneeled, was her judge.

They said, “Teacher this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act of it. “The law commands us that she should be stoned.” “What do you say?’ With hearing that, she braced herself for the condemning words, and then the stones that would crush her body. She knew the pain would be terrible, only stopping when she was dead.

But there was silence. Did this Teacher hear what they said? Wondering what was happening, she glanced to her side, and saw this man stooping down, and begin writing something, on the ground, using only his finger. Those around, standing there with stones ready, again asked, “What do you say Teacher?” This man they called Teacher, then stood up, and with what seemed like a soft and comforting voice to her. Said “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone.” With that said, he stooped down again and resumed writing on the ground.

This woman must have tightened her body even harder, waiting for that first stone to hit her. While she waited, she probably began thinking, who is this man? She had heard about a man in the area that was kind to everyone he met. Was this him, she wondered. As she thought about who this man was, she heard stones dropping to the ground, none hitting her. She then heard footsteps, fading in the distance, as all those with stones at the ready, walked away.

As she looked at the Teachers sandals, a hand placed under her jaw, gently raised her head. As she looked upon this man, she saw a face of compassion, acceptance, and love. Now that her fear was gone, she began sobbing, tears filling her face, gasps of breath coming from her mouth. Then he spoke, and asked, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?” “Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord.” she answered. She had heard her accusers addressing him as Teacher, but she thought that this is no ordinary man and answered with, Lord. That is when she heard words that she would never, ever forget. “Then neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” She knew that this man had just saved her life, and it changed her for the rest of hers.

What happened here? This woman knew the law, but still she broke it. Obviously the threat of the law was not able to stop this women from sinning. Knowing that she deserved, according to the law, to be stoned to death, realized that he had accepted her, just the way she was.

Looking back at this story, and every other story I read about this man. I never see him condemning anyone, with only one exception. The religious ones, those who depended on their own righteousness. He did not ask the woman, why she sinned. All he asked her was, “where are those who accuse you?” Was Jesus as concerned with the condemnation of the sin, as with the sin itself? She certainly did not walk away from that episode feeling condemned by him.

Do you feel condemned by everyone, including yourself? Jesus offers a gift of no condemnation, and he can. It is he who would pay for it at the cross. All your sins were brought to bear upon him. All your sins, sicknesses, pains, sorrows, and much, much more. Sins that caused his Father to turn from him, and turn toward you. Him dying, you coming to life.

Know today, that we have no ability to keep God’s law perfectly. It is Jesus and only him who is the fulfillment of the law. In Christ, we are all on equal ground. If a brother or sister, gets tangled in sin, remind them that there is no condemnation found in Jesus.

And remember dear Christian, firstly, your good standing in Christ, and second, always judge your own actions by your standing in Christ, but never judge your standing in Christ by your actions.

Knowing and believing this gift of forgiveness that the Father gave us, by the payment of death, His son Jesus Christ paid.

 

Advertisements