Being Grace-full

The Pharisees thought they had Jesus trapped in a no-win situation. They brought Him a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery.

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?” (John 8:3-5 NIV)

Right out in public, they put Jesus on the spot. If He says, "Go ahead and stone her," they embarrass Him in front of people who know He stands for grace and forgiveness. If He says, "Let her go," they have Him on public record as opposing the Law of Moses.

But Jesus turns the situation back on them.

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. (John 8:6-8 NIV)

John is specific here. He doesn't say that Jesus bent down and played in the dirt. He says Jesus started writing on the ground. I have to ask myself a question the Scripture doesn't answer: I wonder, what did Jesus write in the dirt?

Perhaps He wrote out the ten commandments, reminding them of the sins they had committed as He challenged the one without sin to be the first to aim a rock at her. Perhaps He wrote their specific sins in the dirt, so they would know He knew what was in their hearts. Maybe He wrote, "Don't be like THEM," so His disciples would know the heart He expected them to have.

At any rate, they got the point.

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. (John 8:9 NIV)

"I can't hurl the first rock" thought the oldest among them, who had lived the longest and had the most opportunities to sin. If you have to be sinless to throw the first stone at the sinner, only one Person qualifies in this angry crowd. And He's writing something in the dirt, instead of punishing her for her sin.

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 8:10-11 NIV)

Neither do I condemn you. There it is. Jesus doesn't condemn sin, He forgives it. Jesus didn't come to judge sinners, He came to offer grace to us.

This act of forgiveness was not just. It was not fair. She deserved to be stoned. But she didn't get what she deserved - and that's mercy. Instead, she got what she didn't deserve - a second chance - and that's grace.

I don't believe this was a one-time offer given to the woman to get out of a sticky situation brought on by the Pharisees. There is ample evidence in Scripture that this is exactly who Jesus was (and is), and what Jesus came to do.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10 NIV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17 NIV)

There you have it. Mercy and grace. They have been freely given to us, and Jesus expects us to be people of mercy and grace. We are to give what we have received. Since our hearts are filled with the mercy and grace of Jesus, we have the power within us to treat others with mercy and grace. His Holy Spirit gives us the heart of Jesus, and the love of Jesus compels us to love God and love others just as surely as we love ourselves.

So followers of Jesus have no right to be judgy. Our heart must be the heart of grace. We more than any others have received great mercy, and so we can be merciful. We have received the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so we can be grace-full. We can see how Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery, and love like that!

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