"When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the [adulterous] woman, He said to her, 'Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."1
To me there is no more beautiful picture of God's unconditional, non-judgmental, non-shame-based, yet non-condoning love than in the example where the religious people brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus (as seen in today's Scripture passage).
In those days the penalty for adultery was death by stoning—a terrifying situation for this woman to be in. But for the life of me I can't even begin to imagine how a woman could be caught alone in the act of adultery! This was because this occasion was a setup to trap Jesus—and the "accusation stones" hidden in the accusers' pockets were to throw at Jesus rather than at the adulterous woman!
"The Law of Moses says," these jealous religious guilt-throwing-shame-based-hypocrites said to Jesus, "that this woman must be stoned to death. What do you say?" No matter what He answered, they believed they had Him trapped and would find Him guilty. If He said she should be stoned to death, they could accuse Him of having no mercy. If He said she should not be stoned to death, they could accuse Him of breaking the Law of Moses.
Jesus's answer was brilliant, "Yes," He said, "the Law of Moses says she should be stoned to death. So go ahead and kill her!" But before they had a chance to move a finger, Jesus added, "And let the man who has never sinned be the first one to cast a stone!"
Thud! The silence was deafening as one by one those religious bigots, like frightened, guilt-ridden puppy dogs tucked their religious tails between their legs and slinked away as quickly as they could.
Jesus then asked the woman, "Where are your accusers now?" To which she replied, "They've all gone, Lord" Then Jesus made a profound statement, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
Not always of course, but some people commit adultery (and/or fornication) because they are looking for love in all the wrong places. Chances are that this woman was loved and accepted by a man (Jesus) for the first time in her life—loved for who she was and not for what she had to offer lustful men. Jesus' acceptance of her and His giving her total unconditional love would free her from a life of sin. This is why Jesus could say to her, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more, or go and leave your life of sin." Notice, He didn't condone her sinful behavior, but neither did He condemn her. Again, it was Jesus’ unconditional love that would set her free from her sinful behavior.
God is never about condemning us, making us feel guilty, or making us feel ashamed. It's people who do that to us—including some religious people. God wants to forgive us and set us free from a life of sin. So we, too, need to come to Jesus and receive His unconditional, non-judgmental, and non-condoning love. It's there for "Whosever will may come."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You for Your unconditional love for me and that You have provided a way of escape from the consequences of my sin by giving Your Son, Jesus, to die in my place to pay the just penalty for my sins. Please help me to love and accept myself and others the same way that You love and accept me. Deliver me from any sinful ways and help me to live always to glorify You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. John 8:8-11 (NKJV).
All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.