The story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 is a story of a face-off between the “godly” and God. It is a picture of what happens when you have God’s law without having God’s love. So here goes the story…Jesus is teaching at the temple. A crowd has gathered, and He is sitting there speaking to them. Cue religious leaders. They show up- in the middle of Jesus teaching, with this woman. Never mind the fact that they have totally disrupted whatever He was teaching and all attention has now been shifted to this woman…this adulteress. They tell Him that she has been caught in the act of adultery. Wow. I wonder how she is feeling. Humiliated… mortified, oh yeah…and afraid for her life for that matter. She knows without a doubt that these men are very familiar with the law. They are the religious leaders- the Pharisees. They know the law backwards and forwards. She knows that they have the right to kill her. She knows that they want to. And there she stands…staring at the ground. She feels the heat of the sun beating down on her. It fades in comparison to the heat of the gazes fixed on her. Everyone is yelling. Men are furious. They are grabbing rocks. They want to throw them at her head. They want her to die. She wants to die. They tell Jesus that according to the law she must die. They ask Him what He says. He says nothing. All eyes are fixed on Jesus. All eyes except for hers. Her eyes are fixed on the ground…on the dirt. And then it happens. Jesus stoops down. With his finger, He begins to write in the dirt. What He writes is for her downcast eyes to see. The religious miss it. Of course they do. They always miss it. God is getting His hands dirty. Their hands, clutching stones are remarkably clean. They are yelling at Him. He stands and says, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” She waits. She cringes. The stone never comes. Why doesn’t it come? It should come. Instead, the religious leaders, the “godly” ones walk away. Only Jesus remains. The one who is without sin. He waits for her to look at Him. She still cannot lift her head. She is too ashamed. Jesus stoops down again. Again He writes in the dirt. She sees what He wrote. He stands and waits. She raises her gaze to meet His. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” She says, “No, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go, and sin no more.”
That’s my Jesus. That’s grace. That’s why they call it amazing…because it IS amazing. Grace, not only to stand between a guilty woman and her accusers, but grace to send her away completely changed. She was an adulteress when she was brought to Jesus. There is no doubt about that. But she was NOT an adulteress when she walked away from Him that day. That’s grace. Jesus takes whatever “scarlet letter” that we or others have pinned to our chest, and He puts it on himself. He takes our shame and sin and gives us His perfect righteous standing in God’s eyes. There are simply no words for this. There are simply no words.