Hovering over the opening verses of John 8 this morning. You know, the ones marked with the note that says “The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53 – 8:11.” Never really sure what to do with that. A. Skip them? B. Read them as a somehow less than “real Scripture?” C. Or, believe that God in His providential care of the Scriptures determined the incident they record too important not to be captured at a later date and included for the blessing of readers for the following centuries? I’m going with “C”.
And as I chew on it this morning, it occurs to me that the woman caught in adultery wasn’t the only one who was shown mercy and encountered grace that early morning in the temple courts. Her accusers walked too.
I think she was set up. How else is someone “caught” in adultery? How’d the scribes and Pharisees know to bust down the door of that particular bedroom on that particular morning? And, where was the guy who should of been “caught” in the act too? Come on! Set up written all over it.
For sure Jesus was set up, too. The adulteress’s accusers throw her before Jesus and the crowd He was teaching and remind the “Teacher” of what Moses commanded concerning “such women.” Stone them!
“So what do You say?” This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him.
Yeah, set up number two!
But then Jesus turns the tables.
Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground.
If you’re familiar with the story you know what happens next. One by one they walk away. Jesus is left alone with the woman standing before Him. He asks her where her accusers are, if anyone has condemned her.
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
And we sit back. And marvel at such mercy. Wonder at such love. Experience the awe of such grace. And the woman caught in adultery walks. No condemnation. A new creation in Christ. Free to go . . . into all the world. No longer a slave to sin, never to be “caught” again in hidden, perpetual sin.
But this morning it strikes me she’s not the only “caught in the act” yet free to walk.
Each of her accusers, before Jesus, confess their own sin, in essence, by not picking up a stone. Each of them stand before the Son of God, the Judge of the world, and admit they’re sinners too. And each of them is allowed to walk, as well.
“Neither do I condemn you . . . “
Free to walk away. Free, by God’s grace, to find themselves also at the feet of Jesus — the feet nailed to a cross, an atoning sacrifice for their sins as well. Jesus wasn’t done with them yet. He would die for them. By His Spirit He again would convict them of their sin and call them to believe in Him as their Savior. So, for now, He let’s them walk too.
Wouldn’t it be something if some of those guys, one day, were also caught in the act of confessing their sin, coming to the cross, and knowing also the absence of condemnation before the Christ? I’m thinkin’.
What’s more, imagine a day when, as fellow new creations in Christ, they bow before the throne of God, along with the woman they caught in the act, and they declare the glories of the Lamb together. I can only imagine.
They walked too. Something to chew on . . .
According to God’s grace. All for God’s glory.