I read the horrific story today of a young woman being stoned to death by a group of men—including her own father. She was accused of adultery, led to a hole in the ground, and placed there with a rope tied around her neck, pleading for her life.
This horrific event was captured on video, and according to the article, “Because the leader of the mob is the woman’s father, the man most shamed and humiliated by his daughter’s alleged transgressions, he is awarded the group’s highest honor: the biggest stone to cast and deliver the death blow. The video fades to black before the father releases the stone.”*
These men were ISIS militants, a group that has become infamous for beheading journalists and performing acts of terror.
As this poor young girl called out to her father, begging him for forgiveness, he coldly replied, “Don’t call me father!”
Have we heard a story like this before? As a matter of fact we have, but it took place 2,000 years ago.
Instead of ISIS militants, there were religious Pharisees, who cast a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus Christ. Jesus quickly surveyed the self-righteous and bloodthirsty group of men. Then He did the following.
“Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:6–8 NIV).
What do you think he wrote?
No one can say with certainty, but my suggestion would be that Christ wrote the “secret sins” of these men, starting with the oldest, and ending with the youngest. That is why they then left.
That’s probably because the oldest guys had more to confess than the younger ones. Whatever the reason, all of the would-be rock-throwers left the scene after Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
So, here was this woman, left alone with Jesus. He did not pick up the biggest stone and execute her like the man in the news story I quoted. Instead, He forgave her.
“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin'” (John 8:2–11 NIV).
The Bible doesn’t say much about this woman’s background or character. She might have fallen into sexual sin for the first time that day. Then again, she might have had a reputation for being easy and sleazy. Either way, she was now facing the stark consequences of her action.
What she needed in that moment wasn’t a critic, a judge, or the cold curious stares of those who looked on.
She needed a Champion.
She needed a Rescuer.
She needed a Savior.
And she found that, and more, in Jesus.
Maybe you have had to face the consequences for your actions of late.
Perhaps, as the Bible says, “Your sin has found you out.”
That unplanned pregnancy.
That wrong thing that you did.
Jesus does not want to condemn you, but He will convict or convince you of your sin so you can find real and lasting relief.
If you will turn from your sin and ask His forgiveness, He will forgive you of all your sin and then say to you, “Go now and leave your life of sin!”
You might ask, “When did this woman believe?” Probably right after Jesus turned away her accusers. She had never met anyone like Him before.
He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” That word, “woman,” probably wasn’t the word she was expecting. She’d most likely been called a lot of things in her life—hooker, whore, slut, trash—but never “woman.” The word as Jesus used it was a polite term of respect. It would be like saying, “Ma’am,” or “Lady.” In fact, it’s the same term He used to address His own mother as He hung on the cross. So He said to her, “Woman, lady, where are those accusers of yours?”
Why did He say that? She certainly hadn’t been acting like a lady. No, but He didn’t just see her for what she was in the moment. He saw her for what she would become. He knew that her life was going to change. He knew who and what she would be as the years went by.
God sees the same in you right now. Not just what you are or what you were, but what you can be when you put your faith in Him.
He said to her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” In the New King James Version He tells her, “Go and sin no more.”
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can now personally know and walk with the God who created us. Because of what Jesus did, we can now refer to God almighty as “our Father who art in heaven.”
In contrast to the man in the story who said to his daughter, “Don’t call me father!” your Father in heaven wants to hear from you.
*Here is the article from the NY Post that I referred to.