Summary: Jesus frees the slaves of sin and makes them His own disciples; we are free indeed and called the sons of God!
The more I study the story of the adulteress the more I understand John 1: 16-17: “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” There’s such a stark contrast between Moses and Christ and Law and Grace. Moses and the Law are death. There’s no escaping it because there’s no way to measure up to it. Cursed is everyone who doesn’t do what’s written. Cursed is the adulteress, cursed are the Pharisees, cursed are the Jews, cursed are the Gentiles, cursed are you, and cursed is me. We’re all in the same boat and equally hopeless.
But then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. “Of His fullness have we all received.” You see, this woman deserves to be stoned and, according to the Law, she HAS to be. But she has received of His fullness! He can say to her, “Neither do I condemn you” because she’s covered by the blood; it is by grace through faith so that whosoever may come to Him and find pardon.
And the people listening have mixed reactions. Of course, the Pharisees don’t believe, but there’s a good group of folks who do:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
His word is this: “Believe that I am He.” If a man or woman goes on believing that and won’t be persuaded otherwise, then he or she is Christ’s disciple. Now, think of the honor here: Christ could have said that He only wants the best disciples. His disciples are the ones who keep themselves the purest. They have clean hands and pure hearts. They’ve never bowed down to any idol and they avoid all sin. Maybe they’ve memorized the Law and go to great lengths to keep it.
Anyone who goes on believing in me is my disciple.
These are the people who will learn from Him and follow His ways. It’s not the perfect, but those who by faith walk after Him. This is the “grace” part of John 1:16-17. The Pharisees loved the Law. They loved to show everyone how well they kept it and they loved to punish anyone who didn’t do the same. But Jesus brought grace; He loves to give it freely to His own so that we may partake of His divine nature and enjoy the love of the Father as His beloved children. We have received of His fullness, so the Father is as pleased with us as He is His own Son!
32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Here is the “truth” found in John’s first chapter and it corresponds to “Go and sin no more.” To a child of God this is sweet gospel doctrine. I know all about my own weakness. It’s not just a few minor mistakes; it’s not even a bunch of really big ones. I know that in reality I’m utterly helpless. If God explained to me how to be righteous I couldn’t understand it. If He gave me medicine to cure my sickness I couldn’t swallow it. If He threw me a life-preserver I couldn’t reach for it. I am dead in my trespasses. I am a slave to sin.
And so, when He preaches glad tidings to those who sit in darkness (“believe and receive!”) we shout at the freedom found in Him. We who were dead are made alive. Our chains are gone. We can now bear good fruit unto God because we died to the Law and to sin in Christ and we also live in Him. Our lives are hidden in Him. When we sin, says Paul, it’s no longer we who do it but the sin living in these bodies (Rom. 7:17).
But there are a great many who do not believe they are bound by sin and such is the case for the remaining Pharisees amongst the temple crowd:
33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed,
Don’t miss this because it’s going to be answered in a second. They figure they’re in line for all the promises made to Abraham and his descendents.
and were never in bondage to any man:
They’ve never had a slave’s cuffs on their wrists. They’re thinking in an earthly way again, aren’t they? And this means they don’t understand what He’s saying:
how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.