After a week off, we continue with our series focusing on Jesus' words "go and," highlighting the fact that Jesus always put people in motion, so to speak, because faith always requires action of some type. In John 8, there is the story of the woman who was caught in adultery whom the religious leaders brought to Jesus for sentencing. Jesus gave the woman instructions to "go and . . .," and it is that encounter that is the next installment in this series. Let's go there now.
SETTING THE SCENE
This story raises a few questions that are impossible to answer but first, let's look at the narrative itself:
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 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).
The questions this story raises are:
- Why did they only bring the woman and not the man caught in adultery?
- What was Jesus writing on the ground?
- Why did the older leaders leave first and then the younger?
We will not take time to speculate on these questions, for we can only surmise and postulate the answers. instead, let's focus on Jesus' response to the woman's alleged sin.
When Jesus was left alone with the woman, He said that He would not condemn her and then He in essence told her, "Go and stop it!" He did not send her for counseling; He did not lecture her once everyone was gone. He did not remind her of what the Law said. He did not tell her He was disappointed in her. He told her to go and sin no more. What does this tell us?
It tells us that we can too often wallow in our failures, convinced that we must go through major "reconstruction" before God can use us or even have fellowship with us. This encounter reminds of Saul's encounter on the Damascus road. God did not beat Saul over the head with his sin; He simply told him to stop kicking against the goads and then gave him a purpose assignment to the Gentiles.
Perhaps you read this and think I am making light of sin, which of course is terrible and causes repercussions that often affect other people (think of the problems that David's sin caused for his family as one example). Even in David's case, however, God still used and had close fellowship with David. Of course, the best strategy to follow is not to sin. In case that strategy fails, which it usually does, then you must learn how to run to God when you fail.
Have you allowed your failures or weaknesses, even your sins, to disqualify you from fulfilling your purpose and being productive for God? Yes, get counseling if you need it. By all means make restitution and ask forgiveness where necessary. Do what you have to do to get back into the game, so to speak, even if you have to spend time on the disabled list. Jesus was not shocked or scandalized by the woman's sin and we should follow His example by not making sinners pay a higher price for restitution than Jesus would require. Have a blessed week!
IN KENYA: I am here for two weeks conducting some leadership training and visiting my ministry partners. We successfully raised $2,500 for bunk beds for our orphans here, but that did not include the cost of bedding ($1,800). If you would like to make a contribution toward that expense, please do so using my website or sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you!