Jesus was teaching a crowd in the temple one day, when the Pharisees and teachers of religious law brought a woman who had been caught in an adulterous affair and set her in front of Jesus and in front of the crowd.
Explaining her sin to Jesus, they reminded Him that the Law of Moses required stoning for this offense. “What do you say?” they asked Him.Jesus just stooped over and wrote in the dust with His finger. As His questioners became insistent, He stood up straight. “Whoever among you has never sinned, go ahead and throw the first stone,” He said, and bent over again to continue writing in the dust.
Under conviction from their conscience, and beginning from the eldest, the religious leaders crept quietly away, one by one. As Jesus stood up again, He saw only the woman in front of the crowd. “Where are your accusers?” He asked her. “Isn’t there even one left to condemn you?”
“No Lord,” she replied.
And Jesus told her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
“I have come,” Jesus had told Nicodemus one night long before this, ” not to condemn, but to save.” The condemnation, He had said, was that, when He, the Light of the world, had come into the world, men still loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds are evil.
As that woman stood before Jesus and the crowd that day, forced to answer alone for a sin committed by two, she knew the judgment given by the Law– justice demanded that she be stoned. But Jesus pointed out to her accusers another fact, namely, that they had no moral authority themselves to carry out a sentence against another sinner. As Paul says in Romans, “All have sinned.”
In their guilt, the accusers all slipped away before they could hear the amazing words of Jesus–“Neither do I condemn you.” For those words were spoken, not for that woman alone, but for all sinners. Jesus took upon Himself all sin, and paid the complete price for every sin ever committed or that ever will be committed.
Jesus offers forgiveness to all. He offers a new life to all, a life free from sin. He offers the Holy Spirit to guide and direct in righteousness. As the woman found out that day, God’s mercy reaches us at our lowest, and gives us a fresh start with God.