You have heard it said, maybe even said it yourself, “If you don’t do something, they will just do it again.” It is true that consequences often play a role in trying to curb bad behavior and rightly so. This week I have been thinking about that part of our theme verse which says, “His mercies never come to an end” (Lamentations 3:22). When it came to the proclamation of the gospel, some thought that such grace being shone would only promote sinful behavior. This is why the apostle Paul posed the questions in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound?” The answer is simple, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2). Mercy; that is, God not giving us that which we deserve, is part of the driving force behind Christlike living.
Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
Jesus is in the temple teaching those who had come to Him, when suddenly, the scribes and Pharisees bring in this woman caught in adultery. My heart aches when I read the words, “And when they had set her in the midst” (John 8:3). How embarrassing? How fearful she had to have been, for she knew already what the religious leaders asked Jesus, “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned” (John 8:5; Leviticus 20:10). You can tell that there concern for upholding the law is not their intent, for if it were, the man would also be there who she committed adultery with. Their intention is to catch Jesus of guard, proving Him to be a fraud. So, they ask, “But what do You say?” (John 8:5). I suspect, for just a moment, you could have heard a pin drop.
But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
They, that is, the Pharisees and scribes, continued asking Him. Finally, Jesus gets up and says these words, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7). Sometimes, those unaware of their own need for mercy, need to have their eyes opened to mercy. We read, “those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last” (John 8:9). I think Jesus showed mercy to men, before He shows it to the woman. What He could have done, exposing their sinful lives for all to hear, was not the direction taken. Instead, He caused them to examine self. Although their intent was devious, they must have had some integrity, even if it was the smallest amount, for not a one could pick up a stone.
Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?
The woman, who was caught in adultery, is not “getting away with it” as some might see it; rather, she is being shone mercy. She answers Jesus question above with “No one, Lord.” Remember, this woman knows what she did, knows what the law required and thus, anticipated this was her last day. What do you think she felt when she heard the following, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). She didn’t get away with it, she received another opportunity to live as God intended. This story ends with Jesus speaking to those who had gathered, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). What does mercy promote? It promotes the opportunity for sinful man to walk in the light of Jesus Christ, who is both Lord and Savior.