But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  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. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:1-11

Young children need boundaries and rules to guide their behavior. When a young child decides to obey or disobey these rules, it usually does not involve deep thought, analyzation of a concept, or even the consideration of how his or her actions will impact another. As we grow and mature, hopefully our behavior, decisions and actions are influenced by our motivations, by how it might impact ourselves and others. Hopefully as adults we don’t just follow the rules, but as followers of Christ, we are influenced by his example and God’s word.

The Pharisees and scribes wanted to trap Jesus by posing a question they believed had only two answers. Jesus exposed their immature and childlike thinking by posing a stipulation that made everyone who heard him examine his or her own heart. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees wanted to condemn this woman to death because she broke the rules. Jesus spoke to everyone in the crowd, asking them to consider if each of them had ever broken the rules. Starting with the older people in the crowd, wisdom prevailed, all recognized that each of them had sinned, each of them had broken the rules, each of them had done things to hurt others.

Jesus presents another solution: grace. “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve,” Jeremiah 17:10. Jesus tells the woman he does not condemn her, but to sin no more. God examines our heart and our mind; he is interested in our thoughts and our motivations. Jesus invites us to examine ourselves and to bring our thoughts and actions into alignment with his word. This requires mature thinking. This demands I confess to God when I have hurt others or myself with my words or actions. It is a lifelong lifestyle of learning God’s word, praying, confessing, and giving grace to ourselves and to others. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them,” II Corinthians 5:18-19a. Is God calling you back to himself? Is there someone else God is calling you to extend grace to today?

By Grace Hunter

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