A Brief Look Inside the Book
Held and Beloved Day 2
An unidentified woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Dragged out into the courtyard, in front of the crowd, to be accused and probably stoned. That was the law. She was alone. Defenseless. Her mind was racing, wondering how this whole scene could have been different.
Why was she, alone, thrust into this glowing spotlight? A pawn in the religious leaders’ self-righteous pursuit of their own interpretation of God’s laws? Did anyone really care to hear her story? The circumstances surrounding her, the choices that may or may not have been her own, leading her into the downward spiral to condemnation. Was there anything, anyone who could save her now?
She couldn’t even look up. She just stared at her feet. The men’s voices were harsh and angry. She braced herself for the hurling stones.
Instead, there were new questions from the men. Questions directed at Someone else. She wasn’t sure they were any more interested in His answers than hers, but she was thankful for the interruption. Could she even dare to hope that this could end some other way?
Before carrying out their heated judgment, the men seemed to want to know what this other Man, Jesus, thought they should do. He didn’t answer them right away and stooped to write something in the dirt. Their questions persisted, so He simply said, “Let those who have never sinned throw the first stones.”
There was suddenly an awkward silence and not-so-subtle shifting of feet. And then, miraculously, one by one, the angry, determined men dropped their stones and walked away.
She was left alone with Jesus. He spoke softly to her and asked her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” Somehow, she found her voice and answered Him, “No, Lord.” She couldn’t believe this unexpected turn of events and began to wonder if she was dreaming! Then she heard the unthinkable.
Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
I believe it was a moment of more than just words. I believe their eyes met. Maybe not before He said those words, but possibly after she heard His heart, she had the courage to look into His eyes and know He was her Savior.
She might not have known much about Him, but He had shown the power and authority to proclaim her free of condemnation. She might not have realized it yet, but He would pay the penalty for her sin and set her free.
Do I believe she felt those words gave her license? That it was okay, that He understood why her life was the way it was, that He didn’t condemn her, so it must be all right? Not for a second! He clearly said to her, “Go, and sin no more.”
Do I believe her encounter with Jesus was a game-changer in her life, the turning point after which she no longer wrestled with that sin? It is entirely possible!
Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us. (Romans 8:37)
Do I believe it is also possible that the “sin that so easily hinders our progress” reared its ugly head again in her life? Sadly, this is also possible. Even as His redeemed children, we still wrestle against our sinful flesh, in ourselves or in others.
Do I believe if He encountered her again, entangled in the same sin, that He would say the same words to her? Without a doubt, Yes! I believe He would have pursued a meeting with her again, and again, and again, if necessary, to tell her that His payment for her sin never expires!
This is grace! Our Savior’s mercies that are new every morning! But, do we willfully choose to sin again, and again, and again, because His grace covers us? As Paul says in Romans, “God forbid” that we should handle the mercy of God so recklessly! Would taking His grace for granted not sorely grieve the Savior’s heart? Would such a willful choice to remain in a sinful path not deeply dishonor the lengths He went to secure redemption for us? The sacrifice He suffered to offer us a payment that never expires?
May we receive with grateful hearts the freedom He offers us from the penalty of sin. But may our gratefulness not stop short of worship and honor of the One who died so we can walk in that freedom—from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin! May we not stop short of utterly transformed desires that are committed to choices that delight rather than grieve His heart. May we reach for His help to win the battle against our sin-bent flesh again, and again, and again.
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