Early in the morning, while Jesus spoke in the temple, the Pharisees brought to Him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Think about that, “Caught in the act!”
That means that while she enjoyed the thrill of someone else’s husband, she experienced the horror of being “found out.” Then, she is dragged through the streets half-naked, with the smell of sweat, and tears, and sex. She is brought to the house of worship and she is thrown at the feet of the perfect human. The Son of God Himself. The only one who was never caught doing anything wrong.
It’s not really a secret my friend. We all do things we are embarrassed about. We are all this woman. And it’s very possible that one day, we too, will get caught.
In John chapter 8, the Christ was near and the harlot was exposed. Imagine the shame, the guilt, the regret; so many horrible feelings pounding at the door of her heart. Add to that, the awareness of the inevitable death by stoning, and it is safe to say, that she was having the worst day of her life.
The religious leaders were ready to go; anxious with stones in their hands, and the Law of Moses like a howl in their souls. They were stimulated by the opportunity of proving their rectitude, and they saw this as a favorable moment to catch another “sinner” in His mistake, the glutton and drunkard from Nazareth. There were no signs of leniency, mercy was not an option for either of them.
Yet in the chaos of religious fervor, the story does not say that the woman begged for pity. There is no record of her asking forgiveness. She just stood there before Jesus, defenceless and condemned. Suddenly, the Messiah got closer, knelt down on the floor, and started to write on the ground. All eyes (including the woman who was standing alone in the circle) had to look down to see Him. And so He manifested with His body what He had reveal through His word: He came down from heaven to save what was lost in the dirt.
Finally, Jesus stands up and challenges the religious agenda,
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”
And again, he bent down to the dirt, and wrote some more.
Jesus could not stand still in the presence of disgusting self-righteousness. He would not allow this woman to die as a payment for her sins. He knew that He was the only one capable of doing that effectively at the cross. Therefore His challenge and His conviction, made the men that brought her there, leave steadily, starting with the old men first. Everyone going their way, moving on with the weight of their own shame. For at that moment, they too, were caught in the act of pretending to be better.
Meanwhile, the adulterous lady remained in the temple of the Holy God. Alone with Jesus. She was now with a different man who offered a different kind of intimacy. And this stranger who wrote on the ground and saved her from death asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She can only state the obvious, “No one, Lord.”
No one condemned her; no one threw a stone. And the only one who could, chose not to.
Jesus did not even challenge her lifestyle, He did not correct her behavior or give her a 10-step program to sexual purity. What He did was much greater than the punishment she deserved; He extended His hand, showed her a different way and welcomed her to grace.
He then said, “Neither do I condemn you; Go, and sin no more,” as if to say, “I went down to your level, now I welcome you up to mine.” “I will die your death and become your adultery. I will expose you without shame to my Father and all that belongs to me, will now belong to you.”
The sinner standing before Jesus, was invited to the life only Jesus could live, a life of holiness and freedom. She did not pray the sinner’s prayer, she did not memorize a bible verse or listen to any worship song. All she did was allow the Savior to save her and recognise Him as Lord. While everyone in town was conscious of her past sin, Jesus was conscious of her glorious future. He believed that she could live that perfect life, not because of her devout efforts or intentions of purity, but because of Him, her new lover.
This display of irrational grace resonated in the hearts of the early church fathers and they were compelled to record this story in the gospel of John. There was something about that moment that had to be documented for the whole world to see. Because when Jesus says, “Go and sin no more,” He is not saying it as false hope. He was summoning my heart, and yours: “Go and live my life! In Me, through Me, and because of Me. And every time you get caught in the act of _________________ (add your secret sin in a whisper) I will forgive you before you ask, defend you with your accusers and encounter you again with joy.”
[bctt tweet=”This Jesus is not a religious leader; He is a Savior.”] And you can enjoy His extravagant love even right after you fall into your extravagant sin. Because this really is the Good News.
So here is how the sons and daughters of God deal with secret sin: they don’t! We have proven ourselves incapable of managing our sinful nature. We need to bring it to the feet of the sinless one, for He has dealt with it already.
Yes, welcome to your Happy Sonship! Today you can say “No” to shame, with a smile on your face. Today you can stop hiding your sin and start to walk in humility. Today you can put your iniquity to the light, and watch the darkness flee.
Today is the day you can be caught in the very act of surrender.
*If you’re up for more light reading: How Jesus Deals with Perverts