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.” (John 8:1-11)
Death by stoning was the punishment for her sin. She knew it, and she knew she deserved it. Yet, in the darkness of night when the knock sounded on her door, she felt compelled to open it even as she felt the pain of those stones tearing her flesh to shreds. There was no pleasure or joy for her anymore, although he seemed to feel no shame or fear. He came and went seemingly without thought or care while she cowered, consumed by panic, waiting for what she knew would eventually be her fate.
She thought about not answering the knock tonight, about never answering it again, but he would have found another way to condemn her if she resisted. Now as dawn’s first light snaked between her closed shutters and this man that she thought she loved slept peacefully beside her, she tried to fight the rising dread that shrouded her heart. Suddenly, her door crashed open and shouts of outrage from the teachers of the law and the Pharisees assaulted the morning stillness. The inevitable had finally happened. In the chaos of the moment, as she tried to gather her cloak around her nakedness, she saw him slide out unnoticed and realized she would be facing the charge of adultery alone. She was inexplicably calm, although tears of shame flooded her cheeks.
They dragged her roughly along the cobblestone streets, shouting “ADULTERESS” for all to hear. When they reached the Temple courts, they forced her to stand before the crowd gathered around a rabbi. Her robe was barely closed, her hair falling in tangled mess down her back, her face bruising and streaked with dirt and tears. Her shame was now complete as they thrust her in front of the rabbi, causing her to stumble, and proclaiming to the gathering crowds that they had caught her in the very act of adultery. They demanded this rabbi judge her according to the Law of Moses and sentence her to stoning.
The crowd grew strangely silent then, for this was no ordinary rabbi. This was Jesus teaching in the Temple that day, the one the Pharisees tried to trap, the one who called God his own Father. Everyone waited expectantly. If he sentenced her to stoning, he would nullify his teaching on forgiveness of sin; if he let her go, he would be in violation of the Law. There was no sound made as Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. The Pharisees broke the silence with continued demands, and at this, Jesus stood up and said quietly, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bent down and continued writing on the ground with his finger.
What must her heart have felt at that moment when the rustle of tunics and slapping of sandals began to drift away from her one by one? Unexpectedly, she was alone with Jesus. Not one accuser was left. She stood there quietly, head still bowed, offering no excuses for her sin, and not trying to shift the blame to the man who had escaped. She simply waited and then responded in awe to the Master’s question, “Has no one condemned you?” The love and compassion in his eyes brought her to her knees. As she told him there were none left to condemn her, she heard him say, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
She did not know what he had written in the dirt, but she knew that the same finger that wrote the Law of Moses on tablets of stone – twice – had written a new law of grace on the tablet of her heart. She understood now and believed the words of Jesus whispered in the marketplace: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” She was a new creation. No longer compelled to sin, no longer condemned, no longer shamed. Compelled now to praise; forgiveness, freedom, peace, and joy flooded her heart, and her tears became an anthem of worship.
Father, I needed this reminder today! This woman, broken by sin, stood accused, shamed, and condemned before You only to find forgiveness and mercy in Your presence. The accuser of my soul can be relentless in his reminders of my sins and failures, heaping sharp stones of condemnation and shame on me when I am weary or unsuspecting. Then, as I wait, in quiet, humble repentance, I hear You speak truth to my battered being, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” I am a new creation, no longer condemned, no longer shamed. I can walk in forgiveness, freedom, and peace, compelled to praise with tears that are my anthem of worship. I love you Lord! ©