@johnvinod | March 19, 2021
Jesus Christ reached out to the rejected and marginalized people in his society. Like we noticed yesterday in Zacchaeus’ case in Jericho, Jesus did the same to a woman at the temple in Jerusalem. Please read John 8: 1-11.
Jesus was teaching in the temple courtyard surrounded by an eager crowd. A commotion interrupted Jesus’ teaching. Everyone looked in the direction of uproar. The scribes (experts in Jewish law) and the Pharisees (part of a Jewish sect demanding strict observance of the Mosaic law) dragged a woman and brought her in front of Jesus. Their motive was to test Jesus’ response and so condemn him. The charge against the woman was quite serious: She was “caught in the act of adultery” (John 8: 4b). They were also quick to remind Jesus that the Mosaic Law demanded such women should be stoned to death. “So what do you say?” they asked Jesus Christ putting him in a quandary.
This is where we notice Jesus did what he was always acted in his ministry—reaching out to the rejected, condemned, sinful, and marginalized men and women living on the edge at the mercy of others. Her life depended on what Jesus would say.
Jesus, brilliant as he always was in such circumstances, turned the tables. His response upheld the law, but also went deeper and revealed the grace of God, saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8: 7). It was impossible to follow this rule in practice; therefore, making her execution impossible to carry out. The embarrassment was no longer hers, but theirs now. After her accusers left one by one, John records:
“And Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him” (John 8: 9)
Hence, Jesus saved her life and upheld the Mosaic law killing two birds with one stone. How? Well, Jesus realized what the religious authorities deliberately did was to leave out the vital part of the demand of the Mosaic law. That is, Leviticus 20:10 required that both partners caught in adultery should be stoned to death. The man was, however, completely missing from the story. Jesus saw through their deception and the simple fact that the “act of adultery” could not be committed by the woman in solitude. Why was the man allowed to escape from the scene and facing judgement? If his life could be spared, so should be her life, equally created in the image of God.
Nevertheless, I expected that Jesus would condemn the sinful woman in private instead of embarrassing her in public. However, thank God that Jesus is not like you or me. Jesus categorically said that he did not condemn her… neither in public nor in private! This does not mean he declared her guiltless. Instead, he asserted, “for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12: 47, 3:16). He also commanded her to stop sleeping around; saying, “sin no more” and get on with her life.
Jesus once again saw value in the life of an adulterous woman who was completely dejected. When everyone thought she did not deserve to live, Jesus saw worth in her life and believed in her to give her a second chance. Therefore, when we come across people feeling left out and worthless due to their gender, ethnicity, or bad choices, let us follow Jesus and help them see that they are valuable in God’s eyes. They deserve God’s grace and forgiveness. They are worthy of second chances, an opportunity to turn around from sin, and live by the grace of God. Will we decide today to follow Jesus in his footsteps and bring hope, forgiveness, and grace in many a life like this unnamed woman of Jerusalem?