“Can you believe what so & so did? I would never do that and be able to show my face again.”
Have you ever said those words? Have you ever thought them? I’m ashamed to admit that I have.
In John 8:3-11, we come across a story about a woman caught in adultery. And while the major part of this story focuses on the woman, today I want to take a look at her accusers.
Jesus’ statement in John 8:7 stopped all the religious leaders and Pharisees dead in their tracks. Can you imagine what was going on in their minds? Were they making mental arguments and justification lists or were they examining themselves. Did they dare not look at Jesus?
I wonder if they were doing what I am sometimes guilty of doing. I sometimes try and make myself feel better about my own sin by pointing out the sin of others. It’s much easier to feel better about yourself if you can find someone else to look down on.
Their intention was to point out the woman’s sin. Their intention was to hurt her and trick Jesus. And they possibly wanted the pat on the back from Jesus or the crowd saying, “Well done! You caught an evil doer.” But instead, He called them to not see themselves as more holy and devout than she was, but He called them to examine their own sin.
Jesus called them to stop comparing.
You and I may have a scale in our minds of what sin is worse than another. But let me tell you that a sin is a sin. Hiding behind a computer screen or book cover to commit adultery is still adultery. Picking up that $5 that the man walking down the street in front of you dropped and putting it in your own pocket is still stealing even if he doesn’t know it was stollen.
Our sin is not compared to one another. God doesn’t grade on a curve. He doesn’t say, “Well, since you didn’t commit murder like Charles Manson, I’ll give you a pat on the back for just screaming hate at the person in the other car.”
What was the difference between the woman and the men who sought to stone her? Jesus never asked her if she was sorry and she never did cry out in her own defense. Yet Jesus told her that He did not condemn her and commanded her to go and leave her life of sin. I can only surmise that He knew her heart.
Some commentators seem to think that this woman is Mary Magdalene who was became a follower of Jesus and was one of the first women at the tomb after the resurrection. So if that is true, she did what Jesus told her to do.
But for the religious leaders and Pharisees, I see this story exposing their sin more than it did the woman’s. They must have admitted to themselves individually of evident sin in their lives because they all ended up walking away. They must have acknowledged Jesus’ authority because they did walk away, yet we do not see even one of them humbled before Him?
Maybe they just couldn’t bring to think of themselves on the same level as an adulterous woman.
I believe if those men had really come to Jesus to admit their own sin, He would have showered them with love. And He would have told them the same thing He said to the woman, the same thing He says to us, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
What about you? Are you stuck comparing yourself and your sin to others? We should only ever compare ourselves to Jesus, the Spotless Sinless Lamb of God. And that comparison should leave us only with a humble heart that cries out to Jesus for His forgiveness.