A Study on Discernment

The Accused

Let’s talk for a minute about the un-named woman in John 8. The scripture tells us she was “caught in the actof adultery”, which would no doubt mean she was naked. Furthermore, the word says “they put her down in the midst of them”. In other words she was brought into the temple to be judged by the temple leaders.

Read John 8:1-4

Fast forward 2,000 years. Imagine if you can that the woman has a name, she is you. You see yourself being dragged naked through the streets, down the aisles of your church, and thrown to the floor in front of the pastor and church elders.

There you are, filled with shame and fear, most likely about to die.  You keep your eyes closed to avoid the stares of disgust and condemnation, you cover your ears trying not to hear the sneers and accusations.  You wonder how it ever came to this.  

Time seems to stop and in the silence of your mind you travel back across the years.  The events of your life are played out on an imaginary screen. The joy of falling in love for the first time and the pain of the break-up.  Your wedding day.  The births of your children.  The day you found drugs in the pocket of your son’s pants.  When your teen-aged daughter told you she was pregnant and was going to have an abortion. The death of a parent.  The divorce.  It all seems so long ago and yet the pain of the memory feels so raw.  Everything that mattered, everyone you cared about, all gone – and so has the person you used to be.  

Suddenly, against your will, you’re back in the moment. The accusations and cruel words once again pierce your ears. “There is no question of her guilt, she was caught in the very act. The law demands that she be stoned”. Finally, you find the strength to open your eyes but not the courage to look up. You see the sandaled feet of the angry men. You know that they are tightly clutching the rocks that will be hurled at you, ending your life. In some strange way that you can’t understand, you welcome the anticipated attack, hoping that the physical pain might relieve the suffering of your heart. You long for the end to come and bring the relief you’ve searched for all these many years.

From somewhere in the crowd you hear a different voice. It’s soft and gentle, yet at the same time strong and powerful. You can hardly believe the words you hear, “let the one who is without sin cast the first stone”.

With your eyes still looking at the ground, one by one you see the stones fall. One by one the men turn and walk away until only one is left. He speaks and you realize that its the voice of the stranger. “Where are your accusers?” he asks. At last, you lift your head and you look into the stranger’s eyes, they are eyes filled with kindness, instead of hate. They are eyes full of tenderness, compassion, and love; you see a look you haven’t seen for many years.

It’s just you and Jesus. He removes his cloak and covers your nakedness. He speaks again, “is there no one left to condemn you”? You look around, somehow you find your voice, – “no one Lord”. His next words shock you, “neither do I condemn you. Go and do not sin anymore”.

Please notice, Our Savior didn’t condemn the woman, but He also didn’t condone her sin nor did He deny that she had committed a sin. Was she guilty? Yes, remember, she was caught in the very act. But Jesus loved her anyway (mercy), He gave her forgiveness (grace), and because He loved her, He confronted her sin and charged her to abandon it (redemption).

Points to Ponder

No man accuse you? against one in the assembly, that is, a complainant at law; specifically Satan: – accuser.

Neither do I Condemn you. to judge against, that is, sentence: – condemn, damn. To give judgment against, to judge worthy of punishment.

Go. to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one’s journey

Sin no more. no further: – any longer, (not) henceforth, hereafter, no henceforward (longer, more, soon), not any more.

Something to Think About

I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that John included this event in his gospel. It is, I think, one of the sweetest stories in all of scripture. You may not be an adulteress. Maybe your life looks very different from the one portrayed here. If you’re having trouble relating to this woman’s story, I urge you to go back to Jesus’ sermon. You see, we were not born innocent, we were all born into sin. It is in our very nature to sin, Romans 3:23 tells us that. The only difference between your life, and the life of the John 8 woman are the details. But, no matter how different our lives may look, there is one thing that is always the same –that is God’s grace. It was extended to the John 8 woman 2,000 years ago, it is offered today to you and me, and it will be available to every generation until the Lord returns.

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