In John chapter 8 verse 3, it says they brought in a woman caught in adultery.
Many commentaries say she was trapped. They knew her weaknesses and habits. So they set her up with this guy. The guy wasn’t caught. He played a part in this plan.
But we know she also crossed the line on her own. Temptation can come. The devil can tempt us but nothing can force us to sin. But there is a point, where we freely cross that final line, from innocence to sin. And this is how we too sin.
Recently, CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, while commenting about Coronavirus spreading in the US, said it is no longer the matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’
And we find that’s how it is when it comes to our relationship with sin. Sin is not the matter of ‘if,’ but more of the matter of ‘when.’ And that poses a big problem for us because everyone is trying not to sin, yet one way or the other, everyone is falling into sin.
The spotlight in John 8 is on this woman, a sinner. Was her sin serious? Yes, very bad.
I was quite amazed to find out how adultery is illegal in 21 states, including New York in this country. In NY, if you are caught and convicted with adultery, you either have to pay $500 or stay 90 days in jail. I read this from the LA times written by Stanford University law professor. She said adultery is rarely prosecuted as a criminal offense, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Back in 2010, a jury ordered a woman to pay her husband $9 million for cheating on him. At the end of the article though, she was saying most Americans up to 75% think adultery should not be a crime anymore. It’s not a serious problem, not so bad a problem.
But is that true? I disagree. I’ve seen and experienced what adultery can do to a family. I saw it happening in my friends’ lives and it was devastating. Broken dishes, screaming, yelling and leaving. It can break apart a family and destroy the childhood of those growing in a family.
Yes, true. Maybe some people have less drama when adultery and affair happens. But what about countless untold stories of those who had to suffer because of adultery taking place in their family, in their community? How many dads left their home chasing after another woman? How many moms became single moms and how many kids had to live their life, split in between two parents who divorced?
We can’t underestimate sin. Sin is destructive. What if it was your husband she was having an affair with? What if it was your brother or sister? It’s horrible. We need the law of God. Thank God He gave us the law; you shall not commit adultery. And how strictly did the people of God keep this law?
Look at the story in Numbers 25. Story of Moabite adultery incident and how Phinehas speared and killed the adulterer.
Or listen to the warning of Apostle Paul to Corinthians in the matter of adultery in 1 Corinthians 10:8.
So it’s not so hard to understand why these men picked up stones to kill her. Yes, it was a trap. But maybe many of them in the crowd didn’t know that. This is a sin and they want to get rid of it, together with her, before it spreads any further.
We have to know the value of God’s law and keep them. God gave us His law to protect us because He loved us. Breaking God’s law will bring death. We have to do our very best to obey His law.
But she couldn’t. This woman broke the law. She sinned. She gave in to the temptation. She broke the law because she found something else more joyful and delightful than God.
And sometimes, many of us find ourselves in the same situation, where we find other things more delightful and joyful than God. Are we so different from this woman?
We began this year meditating on the greatest commandment. To love God and to love others. Has it been easy to keep this law? No. If anyone thinks I didn’t break the law at all this year, you either didn’t understand what it means to love God and others or your standard of love is just too low not matching to God’s standard. I didn’t kill anyone; how loving am I?
But God looks into our hearts. Did you love from your heart and not hate?
God doesn’t just look at what we do outside but more so of what we have inside. You may have not committed external adultery, but when we found something more attractive than God, when we poured out our time our heart to something else more than God, we can make a case that we broke God’s greatest commandment.
But let’s dive into this a little more. Why did we break God’s law? Or why did this woman break God’s law? Because she found something more attractive and satisfying than the joy and satisfaction that comes from obeying God and pleasing God.
She was deceived by sin. She thought what she could get out of this adulterous relationship, though it is breaking God’s law, could bring her more joy and pleasure than God. But that was not true.
This is how we too get deceived. Satan always tempts us and lies to us. This will be better than God. More joy, more satisfaction and more fulfillment in this than God. Try it. Break His law and enjoy it.
When we are buying into this lie of the devil, that’s when we can’t keep God’s law anymore. Because our heart is lusting after other things than God. When we do that, we have no power. Without loving God, we have no power to obey God.
And so we are drowning. Drowning in our sin. Some know they are drowning, while some don’t even know they are drowning. The wages of sin is death. That’s our destiny. And there is no way for us to save ourselves from this situation.
We are surrounded. Accusers are ready to stone. We find ourselves guilty without any excuses to make. We are caught in the act. What more can we say?
And this is where the Lord Jesus comes and rescues us, as he did with the woman. At the moment of our speechlessness, Jesus is our defender and our strong tower. He tells those with stones in their hands, to cast those stones but for only those who have not sinned.
Who did not sin? Who is without sin? Who is so perfect among us that you can cast the stone at her? Who can condemn? Later, she answers Jesus, ‘no one.’ And Jesus says neither does he condemn her.
There is the one who could condemn her; who can cast the stone at her, because he is without sin. And that’s Jesus. But he says he does not condemn her. And how is he able to do that? It’s because he took the condemnation she deserved upon himself. He can declare her innocence because he took her guilt upon himself. It was the act of love, it was Christ living the greatest commandment by loving God and loving her.
When we study the Bible, we constantly have to remind people what the Bible is really about. The Bible is not a rule book. It’s not a book just telling us what to do. But it’s a love letter. A love letter telling us what He did for us. And how important is it that we never get those two mixed up?
Again and again, the Bible shows God’s love toward the lost sinners who aren’t able to save themselves. They can’t. And that’s exactly why God intervened. He came and did what we couldn’t do.
Jesus is doing exactly that. She is found guilty. She is helpless. She has nothing but death awaiting her for the punishment of her sin. And Jesus is rescuing this helpless sinner. But he isn’t just simply saving her here so she may live a few more years. No, he is saving her from eternal death so that she can live forever. He is freeing her as he is bearing her sin upon himself. And that’s the gospel.
We too are in the position of this woman many times. But what matters so much in our walk of faith is to have faith in Jesus and what He did for us. That Christ took our condemnation and gave us eternal life. Although we may have failed, do we see that Christ does not condemn you but he is there to defend us and redeem us from our sins? Neither do I condemn you. When we too believe this, then we can now begin to leave the life of sin as Jesus commanded the woman.
What’s our response when we see those who are like this woman, who broke God’s law. As much as we are indignant by seeing sin, and we must do all we can to remove sin, but let us love the sinners who are helpless in their sin.
Is someone not living up to your expectations? Then pray for that person and do good to that person. Who knows God can work through your small kindness toward that person to change his or her heart?
Let us drop the stones but follow our Lord who died for us. Let us respond with love, let us overcome evil with good.