“…go and sin no more.” John 8:11
Imagine being caught in sexual sin, dragged away half-naked by a group of rabid witnesses, and thrown before the feet of a judge, knowing that the evidence of your guilt is overwhelming and the prescribed punishment is immediate death. This was the experience of the woman caught in adultery in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel. She was guilty, ashamed, humiliated, probably bruised, perhaps broken from a life of abuse and exploitation, and absolutely terrified as she awaited a horrible death. All was darkness around her, until she heard a gentle voice ask, “Where are your accusers?” The voice was that of the judge Himself; the very One Who should have sentenced her to die was sending her away in freedom, safety, and hope.
It is difficult to fathom this woman’s experience, yet, to paraphrase the prophet Nathan, “We are the woman!” (II Samuel 12:7). We have all sinned (Romans 3:23)–sexually and otherwise–and suffered the sting of condemnation from an Accuser (Revelation 12:10), yet we, too, have been set free undeservedly and sent out with grace, mercy, and love (Ephesians 2:4-9). All that because the Judge Himself bore our griefs and was crushed for our transgressions and adulteries (Isaiah 53:5). How can we but rejoice and place our faith in Him?
It is an interesting thing that Jesus addressed in the same manner both this woman and His disciples at their parting: “Go.” Go…and sin no more. Go…and tell of what God has done for you (Matthew 28:19). Go…and love one another (John 15:12). Let us all go forth today in gratitude for His forgiveness, and pursue the life of confession and community warranted by such amazing grace (I John 1:7-9).