Key Scripture: John 8:1-11
Have you ever been caught in the act of something you shouldn’t have done, but then let off without any punishment? It happened to me a few years back when I was asked to pull over by a burly fella driving a white car, with a blue flashing light on it. After informing me of my speeding offence and leaving me in no doubt that I was destined for a life behind bars, he then said these life-giving words… “Ok sir, you’re free to go. Don’t do it again”.
The panic quickly turned to relief, as the gracious policeman let me go for something that was deserving of punishment.
In John 8 we are pointed towards an amazing story of God’s grace. Jesus extends the underserved love and mercy of God in a woman’s life that had just been caught in an adulterous relationship. Dragged out before a crowd of people, the religious leaders are out to trap Jesus in an impossible situation; condemn the women and encourage her public stoning which would go against Rome, or let her go free and ignore the Jewish law that demands her to be stoned.
They hadn’t realised there was a third option, one that would represent wisdom beyond their thinking: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (v7) – one by one, eldest to youngest they all walk away. Only Jesus is left standing with the woman. The perfect, sinless one, who is the only one qualified to throw a stone at her – and what does he do? He extends grace to her, the undeserved favour of God. Grace isn’t something we earn or deserve, it’s a free gift given to us in spite of our sinful and broken lives.
The woman in this story reminds us that just like her, we are in need of God’s grace. As Paul says: ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The religious leaders remind us of the times that we can be caught with stones in our hands, quick to judge others, whilst oblivious of the mess in our own lives. The church should be the most gracious and forgiving people on earth, as it’s full of people who have been given grace and mercy in place of death and punishment. Grace is our overflow – let’s keep it that way and not get blinded by pride.
And then there is Jesus, our greatest example to follow. He is grace personified. He wasn’t ignorant of the woman’s sin; he was simply pointing her to a new way of life, one that is gracious, and life giving. Jesus isn’t ignorant of anyone’s sin, he’s so aware of it that he went to the cross for it!
Questions for discussion:
- What lies and accusations do you need to stop listening to?
- Have you been accusing someone, dragging up past hurts and old wounds? What do you need to do in order to stop?
- Have you encountered grace as a person?
- Look at how Barabbas and the criminal on the cross experienced God’s grace, how are our lives similar to theirs? (Mark 15:6-15 & Luke 23:39-43)