Of justice and mercy-A A +A
The Good News
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
THE gospel in John 8:1-11 records the story of the woman caught in adultery. While Jesus was teaching the crowds in the temple courts, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law brought in a woman, made her stand in the middle and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
Were the accusers correct in the punishment they were demanding for? Yes, adultery is against one of the ten commandments of God (Exodus 20:14), and the Law declares that anyone who commits it must be put to death (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22). Why so harsh a punishment? Because adultery is not something light as how society treats it today; it is a very serious sin. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are filled with verses reminding us of such seriousness that it is worth looking at some of them today.
"Do not let your heart turn to her (adulterous woman) ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death" (Proverbs 7:25-27). "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4). "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Now if the Pharisees and teachers of the law were right in their accusation, what was wrong in them? Their motives! In condemning the woman before Jesus, they were only trying to trap the Lord. If Jesus agrees that the woman be stoned to death, he will be violating the Roman law, but if he turns down the death sentence, he will be disregarding the Mosaic Law. So what answer did he give?
He said, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw the stone at her." On hearing this, the accusers went away one at a time. Only Jesus was left. "Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?" he asked. "No one, Sir," the woman replied. "Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin," Jesus declared.
Like the immoral woman we all deserve death. Why? For we all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). That is what justice requires. But thanks be to God, over justice his mercy prevailed. To satisfy the just requirements of the Law Jesus took our place on the cross -- taking our sin, our shame and our sickness, and giving us instead out of the riches of his mercy our life, our justification and our healing.
Jesus, who alone is without sin, was the only one deserving to throw the first stone on the woman. But instead of putting her to death, Jesus gave her a new life. To her and to all of us, his loving words remain the same, "I do not condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."
Will you accept God's offer of freedom from condemnation? All that God asks is for you to sincerely repent from your sins, profess Jesus as your Savior, and follow Him as the Lord of your life. He has paid the price in full.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 14, 2013.