Stories of Revival: Caught in Adultery

Christ and the Adulteress by Rembrandt, 1644

Read: John 8:2-11

One day as Jesus was teaching the crowds, the local religious leaders brought forward a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. As a pastor, I’ve sometimes had my sermons interrupted by various distractions, but I can truthfully say I’ve never experienced anything quite like that.

There’s no denying that this woman had broken the laws of the Bible, and the mob of religious leaders wanted to make an example out of her. Imagine the shame and fear she must have felt as she looked around and saw the vengeance in their eyes.

As the crowd picked up stones to kill this woman, Jesus ignored them and knelt down to write in the dirt. As they kept pestering Jesus about what he would do, he stood up and told them “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

Jesus didn’t make excuses for this woman, but didn’t rush to condemn her either. He simply invited any person in the crowd who had never sinned to be the one to carry out the execution. The ironic twist that we realize now is that Jesus is the only perfect person who’s ever existed, so he was the only one worthy of casting a stone. 

But instead of casting the stone of condemnation, Jesus became our rock of salvation.

As the crowd dissipated, Jesus used this moment to offer this woman the gift of a second chance: “Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus doesn’t lower the moral bar and allow us to sin and rebel against God in whatever ways we see fit. That would be cheap grace. Instead, Jesus raises the standard and calls us to a higher way of living, but paid the price of his own life to help us when we fall short. That’s costly grace. And it’s the gift that we each receive when we follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

There’s enough judgment in our world as it is. Thankfully, like the woman from John 8, we can experience the gift of a fresh start through a relationship with Jesus.