Monday, January 16, 2023
By Nathan Sell, Journey Middle School Pastor
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” – John 8:1-11 (NLT)
The beginning of John 8 is one of Jesus’ most iconic teaching moments. The Pharisees have caught a woman in the act of adultery, and they decide to use her as a pawn in an attempt to trap Jesus in heretical teaching. As the Pharisees bring the woman to Jesus, He flips the script and shows that no one is worthy of casting judgment except for God. Certainly Jesus, being perfect, could have cast judgment, but He reserves that for the Father. Instead of judgment, Jesus offers mercy and conviction. His goal is not to shame the woman, but rather to urge her to turn from her sin and begin living the life that God desires for her.
This passage becomes incredibly relatable to me when I place myself within it. When I sin, I am often the chief pharisee — casting shame and judgment upon myself. However, I also recognize that I am guilty of being a pharisee towards others — trying to hold them accountable to their sins. In both situations, I must remind myself that Jesus brings life. He brings mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He looks through my sin, to my heart, and knows who I truly am. Jesus does this for you too. He does not define you by your sin, but rather defines you through His love for you. When I am tempted to judge myself or others, I must remind myself of the truth that only God has the right to judge.
A temptation can be to stop at the forgiveness that Jesus offers. However, we see through John 8 that, while Jesus offers forgiveness, He calls us to a higher standard. His forgiveness is not complacency with sin, but rather a clean slate that challenges us out of our sin. In our moments of sin and failure, Jesus looks at us, forgives us, and says “Go and sin no more.” Jesus believes we are better than our sins. Jesus communicates hope for a better future through His forgiveness. His merciful conviction is an invitation to step into the fullness of life that He desires for us.
“Father, I am so thankful for your mercy and grace. I am thankful that, when you look at me, you see through my sin and define me through the love that Jesus has for me. Lord, I am guilty of trying to be the judge. Help me to be a reflection of your mercy and grace to others. Amen.”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.