Summary: 6th in the series "Conversations With Jesus." The woman caught in adultery was shown mercy and empowering grace by Jesus.
Aaron Patterson, Sentenced to die for the 1986 murder of a Chicago couple.
In one of his last official acts as the Governor of Illinois, George Ryan pardoned Aaron Patterson on 10 January, 2003.
It’s the stuff of movies. The appeal goes before the governor. The prisoner waits on death row as the day of reckoning draws near. Then the word comes that the Governor has set the prisoner free.
In most cases we presume the one with the power to set the convict free has some reason to believe that they might be innocent. But what about a pardon for the one caught red-handed? What about a pardon for the guilty?
That’s exactly what we read about today. The religious leaders bring to Jesus a woman caught in adultery--a capital offense. There are the three characters right there, The religious leaders, Jesus, and the woman. What I’d like to look at with you this morning is each of these principals and see what their response to the situation at hand says to us today. Let’s begin with...
The religious leaders demanded Punishment
vv. 3-5 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
These people see the situation as black and white. She’s guilty, she should die. There’s no concern here shown for the woman. In fact the text says that their whole reason for bringing her to Jesus was to trap Him. They parade the woman out and make her stand humiliated and terrified before the crowd. And we must ask also where is the man?
The motives of these men were anything but pure yet they stretched out accusing fingers. Jesus initially ignores them and gets down to write in the sand. We don’t know what he wrote but I have my guess that it went something like this...(reveal "Thou shalt not commit adultery" animation will run automatic until "Punishment" comes back up) The Pharisees press him and continue to ask him, "C’mon Jesus, what have you got to say?" Jesus says, "Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone"
Then he knelt to write again we don’t know what he wrote. But the text says that as he wrote they began to leave one by one. First the older ones left. I wonder if as he wrote Jesus paused to look at one straight in the eye. and then wrote again. As he continued to write the younger ones left. When Jesus had finished writing, there was no one left to accuse the woman.
What does this exchange say to us Well first of all it shows us that we must never forget the fact that each of us are sinners. The Scripture says plainly that all have sinned and no one is righteous. Sometimes as we look at the sins of the world around us it’s easy to think ourselves superior. Saddam Hussein? Why that guy deserves what he’s got coming. Yes, he does and you do too. And so do I. There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Secondly, this says to us that though the world may accuse us, Jesus is in our corner. He doesn’t excuse our sin. He doesn’t say it’s unimportant--it was important enough for Him to give His life. But he cares for us and he is not the accuser. Accusation is the work of the enemy, we should neither participate in it directed toward others nor be fooled by it directed toward us. Though we deserve punishment, Christ is not the accuser, He has a different role. To the woman caught in adultery...
Jesus offered a Pardon
vv. 10-11 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared.
Here was the one man who met the qualification he had laid out--"without sin." Yet rather than punishment he chooses pardon. This is what grace is: A pardon she did not deserve. This is what mercy is: a punishment she did deserve withheld. "Neither do I condemn you," Jesus said.
Richard Hoefler’s book Will Daylight Come? includes A simple illustration of how sin enslaves and forgiveness frees. A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to Grandma’s back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.
The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch that day, Grandma said, "Sally, let’s wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you, Johnny?" And she whispered to him, "Remember the duck! So Johnny did the dishes.