"And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."
There is no doubt that she is guilty. This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Of course there are plenty of questions that have to go along with that statement. How was a private affair such public knowledge? Where is the man that was with her? Is she just a pawn in this cruel game to set up Jesus? While those questions may swirl around in our minds, she is considering none of them. This woman is lying in front of an angry and hateful crowd that is gathering stones for her unavoidable execution. This Teacher that they have brought her to is acting quite unusual. The mob obviously doesn't like Him very much, but He just calmly writes in the sand.
To this woman's shock, Jesus' first words were not of condemnation or ridicule. As a matter of fact, He hasn't even acknowledged her. Instead He addressed her accusers by telling the one's without sin to cast the first stone. As self-righteous as this crowd acted and as condemning as they were, surely there was one that thought he was perfect. She braced to feel the sting of the first rock to pelt against her body. Instead she heard the thud of rocks falling to the ground and footsteps leading away from her. She wanted to look up, but she was too afraid. Suddenly, she heard the voice of the Teacher. At this point she realized by His inflection that they were alone. She stole a look upward to where He was and saw the kindest face that she had ever seen. He asked her where her accusers were. Was there no one left to condemn her? She took a long glance back to where her accusers had once stood. She saw the scattered pile of stones lying on the ground. Through tear-stained eyes she looked at Jesus and replied with a parched throat, "No one, Lord."
She knew of her guilt and that is what really mattered. If this Man asked her if she was guilty, she would have to respond affirmatively. What she did not realize though was that Jesus knew of her guilt as well. As a matter of fact, He knew even the man that she had been with. In His mind He knew every thing about her. He knew how life had been for her and how she had gotten to this point. Although God detests sin, the effect of it on His creation deeply saddens Him. It is this awesome love of God that extends mercy to the guiltiest of sinners. Jesus spoke to her and said, "Neither do I condemn you." She thought her heart would burst with joy and relief. She knew that she was guilty, but she had been released from the payment for her sinful act. With this instruction, Jesus gave her one more word of important instruction. "Go, and sin no more." He was telling her to not abuse His grace and mercy. Don't foolishly take advantage of what God has freely given. See it as a gift from God, and repent of sin. Putting on God's righteousness does not give you the right to wallow in the mud and filth of sin.
In my mind's eye, I fast forward to a later date. This woman is standing watching the barbarous punishment of a crucifixion. She normally doesn't come to see these disgusting rituals, but this one is different. The One in the middle is the Teacher who refused to condemn her. As the sky turns black and the ground shakes, she hears Him cry to His Father. Suddenly, it all makes sense. The reason that He did not condemn her that day even though they both were so sure of her guilt was because He knew that on this day He would take her guilt upon Himself. She wept once again knowing that this was no simple man or teacher. She had been forgiven by God Himself.
May you know the mercy of God today!