Forgiven and Forgiving

John writes about “a woman who had been caught in adultery.”1 The scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus as he was teaching in the temple. Obviously, they did this to shame her and to trap Jesus into contradicting himself. “And placing her in the midst they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ This they said to test him.”2 

But before we get to what Jesus said, let’s pause and consider a couple of things. First, we all love to throw stones at others—to point our finger, to accuse, to condemn those folks whose sins have been made public! 😏 Why? It makes us feel good about ourselves because we would never do that! We, like the scribes and Pharisees, are quick to pick up a stone and throw it at someone whose sin has been found out!

Second, let’s ask ourselves the same question as the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus. “So what do you say?”3  Hmm. 🤔 Well, first of all, I would say not to actually stone her. 🙄 Secondly, I would say, Where is the guy? I mean, if she was caught “in the act of adultery,”1  he was caught, too. Does he get off scot-free here? 😠 Thirdly, I would say, it all depends on her response to being caught. Is she frightened? Is she remorseful? Is she proud? Is she angry? I guess what I really think is that forgiveness could be granted if she is penitent. That sounds fair and right.

So, what did Jesus say? Nothing. At first. He actually “bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.”3  What was he writing? We are not told. I wish I knew. But I tend to think he did this for effect—creating tension in the air because the scribes and Pharisees “continued to ask him”4  “so what do you say?”3  Come on, teacher. What’s your opinion here! We’d like to know! What do you say? And finally, “he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’”4

And it was quiet. 😶 And those who had picked up stones dropped them. And no stone was thrown. And “they went away one by one.”5  And later, at their houses, people discussed what had happened. Some were astounded by Jesus’ forgiveness. Others were incensed by it. And me? I am convicted that my “forgiveness” was actually given with conditions attached. Which it usually is for many of us. I must confess that I enjoy judging others. But Jesus teaches us that we are all sinners and have no business doing that.

When everyone was gone, “and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him,”5  what did he say to her? “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’”6

God forgives us of our sins with no strings attached. His forgiveness is unconditional—unlike mine. 😦 And now that I study it, my “forgiveness” is quite Pharisaical!  So fair and right!  So, here is the greatest lesson this story can teach us: There is nothing fair about God’s forgiveness! 😯 Hmm. 🤔 I think we should ponder on that awhile.

Our instructions from Jesus are clear: He told his disciples, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”7 It is a gracious way to live: forgiven and forgiving.

1John 8:3    2John 8:3-6    3John 8:6    4John 8:7    5John 8:9    6John 8:10-11    7Luke 6:37 



1 Comments on “Forgiven and Forgiving”

  1. Absolutely beautiful! 😁 Praise God that He has forgiven me because Jesus was judged and “stoned” in place of me.

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