“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The woman who was brought to Jesus had been “caught in the act” of adultery, and everyone knew she was guilty. They probably also knew that the religious leaders didn’t care about her but were just trying to trick Jesus.
So how did Jesus respond? Notice how he did not respond. He did not further shame the woman publicly. Nor did he debate the religious laws of the day. He didn’t even ask, “Where’s the man who was with her?”
Jesus took his time. He bent down and wrote on the ground, even as they kept questioning. When the time was right, Jesus stood up and shifted the focus from the woman to her accusers: “If you are without sin, go ahead and start throwing stones.”
The woman’s accusers drifted away, one by one. And finally, when only the woman remained standing there, Jesus did not shame her further by lecturing her. He simply said to her, kindly and clearly, “Go and live a changed life!”
Neighbors can do bad things. A coworker can embezzle thousands of dollars from a local charity. A teenager can get drunk, wreck the family car, and need to get bailed out of jail. A young dad can cheat on his children’s mother.
How do we respond? If you are without sin, go ahead and feel superior, shun them, put them down! But if we too are sinners, let’s do as Jesus did.
Jesus, Son of God, you have seen it all. Forgive us our misbehavior and judgmentalism. May we love and encourage each other as you love and encourage us. Amen. (AM)