In John 8:1-11, the religious leaders dragged the woman before Jesus. Her shame and sin exposed for public condemnation as she was an adulterer, caught in the very act. Because of this, the Law’s decree was very clear. She was to be stoned. The scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus and posed their question to Him with deceptive motives. They were not seeking justice. Rather, they were trying to trap Him.

Jesus and adulterous womanHowever, in a move no one was expecting, Jesus turned the tables on them. His initial response was to kneel silently, tracing in the dirt with His finger as the accusations flew. When pressed for an answer, He simply stood and replied, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7).

Then, one by one, from oldest to youngest, each leader left. When the last person left, it was just the woman and Jesus. It was at that point that Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” When she said no, He said, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Did you catch that? With every opportunity to fulfill the law, Jesus showed grace and forgiveness. Now, He did not discount or defend the woman’s sin, which from all accounts, was grievous and indefensible. Yet neither did He join the voices demanding harsh punishment. Again, self-righteous judgement was never Christ’s way. He always extended grace and forgiveness. He lovingly accepted this imperfect woman without compromising holiness. He told her to GO and LEAVE her life of sin.

To watch Tom’s 60 second devotional on this interaction and the hope Jesus gives, click here.

In gracious wisdom, He rescued her from contempt without diminishing the reality of her actions. He imparted hope through forgiveness while still challenging her towards repentance. And He extended redemption while shining light on the darkness of hypocritically judging others.


When your sin accuses and shame attempts to condemn, look to Jesus. He was and is the friend of sinners who deals patiently and graciously not according to what we deserve. He forgave this woman but challenged her to leave that life. In the same way, may we know we are forgiven, but also embrace those ensnared by sin’s consequences with His compassion rather than contempt. May we help guide them towards freedom found only in Christ. Mercy triumphs over judgment and we can help others experience Christ’s forgiveness and love.

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