Compassionate Rescue | John 8

Welcome to Real Life. Black and white rarely is.

Never wrestle with pigs.
You both get dirty
And the pig likes it. 
–George Bernard Shaw

Disheveled, the woman is dragged into the temple courts. Shame, embarrassment, and fear surround her. The punishment for adultery is stoning—to death. Clearly, she is guilty. Caught in the very act. “Now what do you say, Teacher?” the religious authorities ask. 


What can he say? The law is black and white. But this accusation is a dirty grey. Because these leaders care little for this woman or her transgression. If they sincerely sought justice, where is the man? Adultery requires two. They hunger not for justice, but blood—Jesus’ blood. They were seeking to trap Jesus into saying something, anything they could use to arrest him.

In upholding the letter of the law, these teachers of the law miss the heart of the law—God’s heart. Sin is wrong because it destroys us. That's why he wants us to stay far from it. Adultery rips apart lives, marriages, and families. 

Now what do you say, Teacher? Silence. Jesus refuses to react. Instead, he bends down and writes in the sand with his finger. Void of Jesus’ words, the authorities keep spewing questions. Finally, Jesus speaks.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

One sentence silences all. Am I without sin? Hardly. One by one the crowd departs. The eldest leave first. The longer I live, the longer my list of offenses against a holy God. In the end, Jesus and the woman are left alone.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir.”

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus’ mission[1] was not one of condemnation, but compassionate rescue. Many know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” Fewer know the next verse.

For God did not send his Son into the world 
to condemn the world, 
but to save the world through him.[2]

Anger feels powerful. We want justice—NOW. So did Jesus. However, the heart of justice cares for people. Jesus never condones sin. He seeks to save us from it. A lover will never satisfy the longings of our hearts. Only God’s love can.

Daily, we stand in the crowd. Someone or something is dragged before us and vehemently accused. Are we quick to grab a stone? As disciples of Jesus Christ, may our hearts reflect his. As recipients of his compassionate grace, let’s pay it forward. 
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 
For the law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:16–17 ESV Emphasis mine

Father God,
Forgive me. I am so quick to judge.
May I never forgot
How desperately I need your grace.
You generously bestow it
So we have more than enough to share
In Jesus' name.
Amen.


[1] Matthew 1:21
[2] John 3:17 NIV

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