By: Stephen A. Curry
John 8:1-11 records an incident where a woman caught committing adultery was brought to Jesus. The Jewish law lists adultery as a capital offence (Leviticus 20:10) and the leaders who brought the woman to Jesus were testing Him to see if He would uphold the law and order her stoned to death. During the exchange, Jesus responded, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The Jewish leaders backed off, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. Jesus asked, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” The woman answered, “No one, sir.” Jesus responded, “Neither do I.”
This is a wonderful story of God’s love and forgiveness. Jesus does not destroy the woman for what she has done. He shows her compassion and mercy. But this is not the end of the story. The last thing Jesus does is command the woman “Go, and sin no more.”
The forgiveness of God is not something we earn. Salvation is a gift of God’s great love for us. But when we turn and accept this gift, there is an obligation for us to respond. There is a discipline to discipleship. Paul writes in Romans 6:1-2, “Should we keep on sinning, so that we receive more of God’s grace? No, we should not! If we are dead to sin, how can we go on sinning?”
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and claim the name Christian, we pledge to be obedient to His commands -- commands given to help us live out love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self in real, practical terms. Obedience is required if we are to be true disciples. Calling Jesus Lord and Master is meaningless if we do not follow them up by changing our behavior.
Jesus did not tell the woman that what she had done was OK nor did Jesus tell her that it would be acceptable to continue to engage in adultery in the future. Jesus did not redefine adultery as a “lifestyle choice,” dismiss her action as “she was born this way,” nor any other of the modern excuses we hear. In the end, adultery is still a sin. The woman was given an expectation that she would go forward into a new life, her past sin is forgiven, her behavior changed.