John 8: 7-11
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin 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 .”
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
One of the greatest challenges in engaging today's culture is in communicating the incredible, relentless love of God for people, no matter what their lifestyle or behavior, while also maintaining Biblical truths and values. We tend to lean more heavily on one side or the other. We might be staunch defenders of truth, but come across hard-hearted and lacking compassion. Or we may be so incredibly accepting of everyone, no matter how they are living, that we neglect to confront blatant immorality and harmful behaviour.
Jesus, here in John 8, holds this tension beautifully. In front of the religious vigilantes who want to stone the woman caught in adultery, He protects her with generous grace and compassionate acceptance. He upholds her human dignity and literally saves her life. He lifts off condemnation and covers her with mercy. However, when alone with her, he tells her plainly: "Go now and leave your life of sin." He confronts her behaviour, calling it 'sin', and challenges her to change her lifestyle.
As John had already written, Jesus was "full of grace and truth." He wasn't 50% grace and 50% truth - He was 100% both. He embodied grace and truth, He personified mercy and holiness. He has compassion on her without condoning her behaviour. He communicates grace without compromising his character. He confronts the reality of her sin without condemning her.
When Jesus told this woman, "Go and sin no more" – it wasn't a threat. It was a declaration of freedom. He was saying: "You are free to go and live differently. You are no longer condemned or bound by your past. You have a brand new start and it begins right now, here, today." Grace is not a license to sin, grace is an empowerment to live a new life. Grace enables us to get unstuck from besetting sins and negative behaviours, grace motivates us to lay down our lives in serving other people, grace inspires us to fully embrace Godly living and passionate pursuit of Jesus.
May we grow in grace and truth, extending God's liberating mercy into the mess of human sin, while living lives that truly reflect the heart and holiness of Jesus.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am and 11.30 am.