Our God is a God of Mercy

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again to the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, and though he heard them not. So then they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
John 8:1-11

I was reading this passage of scripture while doing some online bible study and the lesson broke this passage down in a way that I had never heard before, and I wanted to be able to share it with you. I've heard this story time over time in my last 22 years on this earth, but never have I understood it better than I do now.

The scene is set with Jesus in the temple teaching the people. As we read in much of the scriptures, Jesus did this quite often. I'm sure it was an awesome time for many of Jesus' followers to hear him speak. How awesome it would be to be able to go back in time and be able to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear him speak...I can only imagine!

I picture this scene being a very peaceful one...it says he was sitting and preaching, so it seems like a pretty casual environment...but the peacefulness is about to be broken. The scribes and Pharisees come bursting in on the scene with a woman who they had caught in the act of adultery. You can almost imagine that the Pharisees enjoyed doing things like this...there was probably even a side to them that was jealous for the attention that the people showed Jesus. There was a time when the people would sit and listen to them teach, but now they sat at Jesus feet instead. This is all of course speculation.

Anyways...they bring this adulterer in and ask Jesus what should be done with her...and of course they feel the need to point out to him that the law says she must be stoned...as if Jesus did not already know the law. Can you picture this scene in your mind? I can picture the woman hunched over...probably with her eyes looking at the ground in shame. Jesus is sitting there possibly looking at her; meanwhile the Pharisees stand around smugly waiting for an answer. Can you imagine what might have been going through the woman’s mind at this point? Her life hangs in the balance waiting for Jesus' response to the question. How terrified she must have been!

But Jesus knew their motivation for their question. He knew that it was a trap they were trying to lay for him. But Jesus does not take the bate...he merely stoops down to write in the sand. What does he write in the sand you wonder? Well, no one really knows...I heard one account that said that Jesus may have written the Pharisees sins out in the dirt. But like I said, no one really knows for sure.

So the Pharisees continue to hound him...I can only imagine that they were quite indignant at Jesus' response...they were asking him a question....and all he was doing was writing in the sand?! Eventually Jesus stands up, and makes a statement..."He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Jesus did not deny that what they said was true...Jesus knew it to be true. But I believe here is a picture of what was to come. The transition from being under the law to being under grace.

Jesus does not watch them and wait for their response...he speaks his peace, and goes back go writing in the sand. I can imagine at this point that there was a deep silence as the Pharisees stood there thinking about what he said. They realized that they were sinners, and could do nothing...so one by one they left. After they all departed Jesus stands and asks the woman if there are any who still condemn her. She responds by saying no. Here I find Jesus response so amazing. "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." I think the very order of what He says is so important. Notice that it is not conditional. He does not say, "Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn thee." He says he does not condemn her and tells her to go and sin no more. He was not going to condemn her...there were no strings attached. Here we see a picture of the grace that God has shown us. Just like this adulterer we are all sinful people deserving of going to hell, but Christ was merciful, and saw us in our need, and forgave us of that sin.

I hope and pray that this passage being broken down and explained in more detail was a blessing to you...I know it was to me!


Luci said…

Thanks for sharing this. Good stuff:)
Katie said…
Wow, thats awesome. I've heard that all my life as well, but it makes much more sense after reading this. Thanks. I really enjoyed it!
bug said…
That reminds me of the hymn "Marvelous Grace"

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

~Julia Johnston
Rebekah said…
Thanks Jason, That was a wonderful post. This is one of my favorite stories in the bible, God is so merciful to us... We are so undeserving, but yet He does not condemn us like you said. Praise the Lord!
I love the song Merciful to me...have you ever heard it? It is so good! Thanks again for posting this!
Rosebud said…
That's great...thanks for sharing!!
I'm glad you all enjoyed the post!

Rebekah-I don't think I know that song. I'll have to look it up!
Bethany A. said…
Great post, Jason! It's exactly what I've been thinking about lately.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for posting that, Jason!
Glad our family could finally meet you. Simeon wanted you to come back!