“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
The scene was artistically portrayed in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. A woman dragged before the Lord, caught in the very act of adultery! Jesus’ hands reach down, tearing through the dusty soil, writing something on the ground. Slowly, feet stamp away, leaving only Jesus and the woman.
It is the condition in which many might find themselves: Remorseful, humiliated, caught in the act! Alone with Jesus on a dusty path. Then, we get a view of our Savior’s heart. He delights in pardoning sin and passing over our transgressions for his children (Micah 7:18).
It isn’t, as some might interpret, an unjust pardoning where God looks the other way at some sin (like adultery) while being severe toward another form of sin (pious arrogance of the religious elite).
Rather, Jesus is deeply concerned with the woman, far more than the crowd had been in their self-righteous zeal.
The crowd was jeering and demanding blood in their own concept of justice. Instead of Jesus weighting one sin over the other, it was the accusers who falsify the scales of sin, deeming adultery to be worse than, say, pride.
Instead, Jesus sees the condition of the sinner as a lost sheep, wandering away from the love of God, and weeps.
What he wrote in the sand is the topic of much speculation. Maybe it was the various commandments that they had broken? No one knows because scripture doesn’t tell us.
Perhaps that’s the point: Jesus doesn’t divulge the sins of others to us when defending against our accusers. Those of the Religious Order delight in exposing other people’s dirty deeds. But our Lord loves, concealing the matter, then paying for it Himself.
It is this kindness, this unfathomable love that draws Christ’s sheep to Him. We love Him because He first loved us. We chose Him, because He chose us! One might say, the woman’s very public sin actually brought her to Jesus, demonstrating how God will use the very evil in this world to bend to His sovereign purpose.
If Jesus did write the sins of the Pharisees in the sand, they did not notice His gentleness, or accept His forgiveness in the sacrifice that only He could provide. If He showed them this mercy in writing out something that should be a call to repentance, humbly employing his finger in the dirt rather than in their faces, they spurned his grace.
Would you enter the Kingdom of God, the mysterious status of being clothed in Christ’s righteousness and being at once in the presence of God the Father as well as living in this earthly realm with the Spirit of Christ within you?
Then you must enter through the gate of poverty in spirit, having nothing to bring, being accused for your sin, but knowing there is no excuse. You were caught in the very act!
You must mourn for your sinfulness and for the lostness of this fallen creation.
You must be meek, falling at your Savior’s feet.
You must receive His peace that comes at great cost to Himself.
There is no condemnation for those who are found in Christ. There will be no one to accuse you because your sinful rebellion, along with every sin that poured forth from that foul fountain has been cleansed.
“Go, and sin no more…”
When we accept Jesus’ forgiveness, bought by His sacrifice, we can count on His strength to leave our sinful lifestyle behind us. We will struggle with the desires of the flesh, but we will no longer bear the mark of one caught in the very act.