Loved despite sin

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2017

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11

The familiar story found in John 8 is of a woman caught in the act of an atrocious of sin. The account is best known for the challenge by Jesus to the crowd of religious accusers that whichever of them is without sin should “cast the first stone.” That challenge is one we would all do well to remember.

The story however isn’t about the accusers. It, at its core, is about a woman accused. Not falsely accused either, but rightly accused.

The stage of the story is that Jesus is in the temple teaching when the religious leaders throw a woman before Him expecting Him to judge her.

I can imagine as they approach that those Pharisees had their chest poked out, proud that they had been able to bring justice by catching the woman. They were probably expecting some sort of commendation from the famous young rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

Isn’t that what we should do? Stand against sin and call out what offends God? If we don’t condemn the sinner, do we condone the behavior?

Let’s look at what Jesus does, as they approach — as we’ve stated, there are two sides. You could say there is a line drawn in the dirt, right there in the temple floor. Which one do you think Jesus took? Which one would you take? Would you stand self-righteously with the accusers or get dirty with the accused?

John 3:17 says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

The gospel shows us the heart of God for mankind that while we were yet sinners, Jesus could’ve came into the world with righteous indignation; we were all guilty, sin had drawn the same line and Jesus came into the world as a man. Jesus came to our side of the line.

This is paramount to understand as a believer. If we believe that Jesus has come to condemn us, that He has come against us, then we will come to Him with fearful hearts, or worse, not come at all.

Jesus did what seemed irrational and irreligious. He, God, chose the sinner. She deserved death. What she got was grace, forgiveness.

But how? Look at what Jesus does next. The scripture says He stoops down into the dirt with the woman and begins to write with His finger in the dirt. Many scholars have attempted to determine what Jesus wrote. It’s thought maybe He wrote a scripture reference that would remind the onlookers that all were guilty before God, or maybe that He was writing His famous two commands, love God and love people, through the dirt onto the stone floor, reminding us of God’s very finger writing the Ten Commandments. Possibly, He simply wrote “forgiven.”

All of these are romantic but unvalidated by scripture. However, what we do know is this — Jesus got down into the dirt the woman was lying in, and in writing, He got her attention. Maybe, to show her that He was willing to be with her even in her dirty situation or that He was rewriting her story even in the dirt. Whatever it was got her attention, because as He spoke, she responded with “Lord.”

I believe that Jesus is not only not afraid of the sinners dirt, but that He wants us to see the “dirt” we’ve been in from a different perspective. To then catch our gaze, to see Him for who He is and then to walk away from our dirt and the accusation. The good news of the gospel is that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

David Malcom is pastor of King Street Church in Keysville. His email address is