Neither Do I Condemn You

John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

The woman caught in adulty never confesses her guilt or claims her innocents. She simply stands before the Lord waiting her punishment. At first Jesus seems to ignore her, but it is her sin that he ignores. It is not important to Jesus. A woman is standing before Jesus. She has been condemned by those around her. She seems to be guilty. She says nothing until Jesus speaks directly to her. And what he offers her is freedom and mercy, not condemnation and punishment. She is free to go, her sin has been forgiven.

Those who brought her before Jesus were using her as a prop in their little plan to see if he would contradict the law of Moses or not. She was not important to them. Her sin was not that important to them either. All they wanted was to see how Jesus would respond. In front of the crowd, he said nothing about her or her sin. He simple reminded them that they were all sinners, one way or another.

We don’t know what he wrote on the ground. Did he write their sins down? Did he write their names down? Maybe he wrote down words of scripture, reminding those who could see what had been written about God’s mercy. Or maybe he was just doodling in the dirt. We’ll never know for sure. But this much we know, no one who was there dared to throw the first stone. All knew that they were unworthy of that.

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