For most of us, grace is not a foreign concept; but though we know what it is, do we really understand it? In John 8:1-11, we see Jesus having a conversation with a woman who has just been caught in the act of adultery. We can gain three crucial understandings about grace based on three things Jesus says to the woman. Through these three things, we can learn the weight of the scandal of grace that, when applied to our lives and the lives of those around us, has the ability to change the way we think and act towards ourselves and others.
“Where are your accusers?”
Prior to this, Jesus had presented a convicting statement to the religious leaders who were accusing the woman caught in adultery and were ready to stone her for what she had done (v.7). His statement caused the leaders around her to drop their stones and leave the scene one by one. Jesus then poses a question to the accused woman: “Where are your accusers?” Through this question, the woman has no choice but to acknowledge that there are no accusers left. Although we may not be in the exact situation as the woman in the story, God asks us the same question. So often we get caught up in sin in our lives, allowing shame and guilt to place labels on us that keep us from understanding and receiving grace. A lot of us live under these labels that Jesus paid to erase! God is asking us this same question so that He can “devictimize” us from our past through His grace.
“Neither do I.”
When the religious leaders looked to Jesus for a response about the law, Jesus suggested that the person who is without sin should to be the one to cast the first stone. Perhaps the most powerful part of this story is that the only person there without sin was Jesus himself. Yet when He speaks with the woman, He does not condemn her; He instead shows her grace. The only way He can let her off of the hook is because He knows He’ll later be on that hook. That’s what gives him the power to absolve her of her sin. Grace isn’t just “ignoring the mess.” Grace only works because Jesus addressed the mess through His sacrificial death when we couldn’t clean it up ourselves.
“Go and sin no more.”
The last thing Jesus leaves the woman with is a charge to move on from this place and go and sin no more. Grace disarms the sin in our lives. Because she had experienced the saving power of Jesus, she had the power to move forward from that moment and live in freedom from her past. When you experience the grace of God, you don’t want to go back to what He saved you from. Lawlessness isn’t the response of the redeemed; authentic life change is.
Jesus brings grace to the messed up and conviction to the stuck up. No matter whether we are the woman or the religious leaders in this scenario, grace is the key that unlocks us from the bondage of sin.
Watch Ps Josh’s full message here.