Just this past week, God put a story from the Bible on my heart. It’s one I’ve definitely heard before, but I never searched much further into. Found in John 8, it tells about a woman caught in adultery who was then brought in by the Pharisees before Jesus and a crowd in the temple. The Pharisees were completely shaming her and were ready to stone her for what she had done, as was the penalty for breaking the sacred law taught by Moses. They asked Jesus what He thought should be done to her - thinking they could trick Him. But the truth they didn’t see was that Jesus came to refresh the law with grace. And that’s exactly what this story shows.
Jesus answers the pharisees in verse seven, saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
This was an amazing answer, and one that turned the tables on the Pharisees, making them look completely foolish. Because even though they were seen as holy teachers of the law, none of them could honestly say they’d never sinned. Jesus was just kind of saying… come off your high horses, guys!
So after the Pharisees left, more frustrated and embarrassed than they thought they would be, Jesus asks the woman, (v.10) “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” to which she replies, “No one, sir” (v.11). And the statement that follows next is what hit me in a new way as God refreshed this truth for me. Jesus says, “Then neither do I condemn you.” He not only says it, but declares it. The voices she heard condemning her were gone. And Jesus' voice was a sweet sound of protection and grace.
In this story, it was revealed to me that the Pharisees are a lot like the voices of the world. There are so many voices who make it their duty to shame you, or confuse you about how you should see yourself. They are quick to put you on trial, and give you disqualifications that say, “You shouldn't even be living!”. I think it's also worth noting in the story that after Jesus challenges them, saying the one without sin should cast the first stone, they didn’t all leave at once. It says in verse nine, “At this, those who had heard began to go away, one at a time, the older ones first.” THE OLDER ONES FIRST. Why is that? I believe it's because there is such an epidemic of PRIDE, especially in younger hearts. As the oldest ones were the first to back down, it was harder for the younger ones to grasp… Woah… maybe I’m not on the right track. Maybe I don’t know everything there is to know. Maybe there’s some truth in this grace replacing condemnation. It was harder for them to set down their stones of pride and know-it-all-ness. And I can say young hearts struggle with pride, because I am a twenty one year old woman myself. I'm a young heart who has had to lay my pride before God. I'm not saying this to provide a label or excuse for people to hold to, but calling it to attention as something we should be aware of and intentional about combatting.
And maybe just as the pharisees brought this woman to trial, even YOU feel quick to put yourself on trial for some things, letting past shame or mistakes cling to you. But Jesus enters in to say that He has gotten rid of all that. Because He is here to shower us in forgiveness, grace, and newness. Jesus calls off the world. Jesus disqualifies their claims. He says - who are they to accuse you? And that leaves you the space to life your eyes… and realize no one is condemning you for your past anymore. Not even Jesus. He calls off your condemners. Leaving you forgiven and free, with a chance to walk into new life.
I’ve been so grateful for the refreshing reminder of this story last week, and just this morning I was listening to a sermon, when a little bit into it, the pastor started talking about this EXACT same story. So that’s what prompted me to write all this. This pastor addresses so many other good points and goes a bit more into the mysterious part of the story where Jesus is on the ground writing in the dirt with his finger. I’ve included the link to that message bellow, which I think could be so eye-opening and freeing for so many others, as it was for me.
Blessings as you go forward, forgiven and free ~
// Zoey Jean