Go and sin no more – John 8:1-11

We come to a very familiar and very intriguing account in the life of Jesus as recorded by John. This is a story of sin, religious hypocrisy, and grace. After the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus goes up to the Mount of Olives. Early the next morning, Jesus goes to the temple again and there He openly teaches the people. The people come to Jesus and sit down and listen to Jesus teach. Imagine that! What a wonderful opportunity! Imagine sitting down with Jesus early in the morning listening to His teaching. That is certainly something I would not have wanted to miss out on. However, the scribes and Pharisees did miss out on it as they were too busy looking at the sins of other people and casting judgement that they missed all that Jesus had to offer. How often do we do the same thing? We tend to be preoccupied with making ourselves look better than someone else that we miss the whole point of grace and what it means to know Jesus. In doing so, we also miss out on a lot of blessings that comes with spending time with Jesus. In this passage, we learn several things about sin and about Jesus.

The deceitful nature of sin (v. 3-6). While Jesus was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders) were looking for way that they could trick Jesus and hurt His ministry. This scheme of the religious leaders was very crafty indeed. They finally found a way, so they thought, to put Jesus on the ropes. They would not be likely to catch a couple in the “very act” of adultery; so we wonder if the man (who never was indicted!) was part of the scheme. The Law required that both guilty parties be stoned (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) and not just the woman. It does seem suspicious that the man went free. The scribes and Pharisees handled the matter in a brutal fashion, even in the way they interrupted the Lord’s teaching and pushed the woman into the midst of the crowd. The Jewish leaders, of course, were trying to pin Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. If He said, “Yes, the woman must be stoned!” then what would happen to His reputation as the “friend of publicans and sinners”? The common people would no doubt have abandoned Him and would never have accepted His gracious message of forgiveness. But, if He said, “No, the woman should not be stoned!” then He was openly breaking the Law and subject to arrest. On more than one occasion, the religious leaders had tried to pit Jesus against Moses, and now they seemed to have the perfect challenge (see John 5:39–47; 6:32ff; 7:40ff).[1] One of the worst things about sin is its deceitful nature. It is a sad thing when we see people, even Christians, working to deceive one another.

The revealing nature of sin (v. 3-6). There are two things that are revealed here: the sin of the woman, and the sin of her accusers. There was no excuse for the sins of this woman that was brought to Jesus. Those who condemned her were not in any position to bring such condemnation against her. Their treatment of her was harsh and unwarranted. Jesus responds by simply writing in the sand. There is much speculation over what Jesus wrote that day. I tend to think He was making a list of all their sins. Someone once said that Jesus probably wrote the names of their girlfriends! The point here is that sin has a way of coming to light. Sin may be enjoyable for a season, but in the end, it cannot be hidden. The revealing nature of sin should cause us to think twice before we indulge in sin. Everything that we do, every sin that we commit has the potential of becoming known to the whole world. Especially in this age of technology, all of the dirt in your life can easily be discovered.

The wisdom of Jesus (v. 6-7). The amazing thing here is that Jesus had every right to condemn and judge this woman. Jesus had the authority to bring God’s wrath upon her. God is perfectly holy and in His holiness, He cannot have anything to do with sin. Yet, in this moment, the sin of the woman does not surprise Jesus. It does not catch Him off-guard. He responds in a very calm and non-judgmental way. This is sometimes the complete opposite of how we would respond. When sin is revealed in the church, for example, we are often quick to cast judgment. When someone reveals their sin to you, how do you respond? Do you look at them differently? Do you show your disgust? Jesus very calmly and lovingly responds out of a heart of love and compassion. He does not immediately cast judgement. Jesus then responds to her accusers by simply stating that “He that is without sin, cast the first stone.” Jesus here reveals something amazing. He basically communicates to them that He was the only one that had the right and the power to condemn this woman. He is the only one who is without sin. Jesus was very wise in His response in that it turns the tables on the woman’s accusers and it reveals the amazing grace of God.

The grace of Jesus (v. 10-11). After each person dropped their stone and left one by one, Jesus very lovingly looks at the woman and speaks to her. He tells her that He does not condemn her. Wow! Think about it. Here is Jesus, God in the flesh. He had the power to send this woman to hell right then and there. He had the power to pour the wrath of God upon her, and He would be right and just to do so. Instead, He tells her that He does not condemn her. Contrary to what some may think, Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Oh, that the church would get a hold of that message today. Our job is not to condemn, but to point people to the One who saves. On the cross, Jesus paid the price to redeem us from the penalty and the power of sin. All those who come to Jesus by faith, there is no condemnation! This is the grace of Jesus.

The challenge of Jesus (v. 11). Jesus leaves the woman with a challenge. He tells her to ‘go and sin no more’. The same challenge is given to you and I today. Now that you know Jesus as your Savior, you are to live a life of holiness. This is not done in your own efforts, but by the grace of God. I don’t think Jesus was concerned with the ultimate consequence of sin when He made this statement. He knew that sin would be dealt with on the cross and salvation would be granted to all who believe. However, He also knew the terrible and deceitful results of sin in this life. He was concerned for this woman’s life in that moment. He knew that if she continued in her sin then it would eventually catch up with her and there would be dire consequences. Therefore, Jesus says, ‘go and sin no more. For your own sake, ‘go and sin no more.’ I already paid the price of sin for you, but for your own sake, ‘go and sin no more.’ I have satisfied God’s righteous demands and you will not go to hell, but for your own sake, ‘go and sin no more.’ I have great blessings to pour out upon you so for your own sake, ‘go and sin no more.’ I have a plan to use you in miraculous ways for God’s glory so for your own sake, ‘go and sin no more.’ I have the best for you not just in the life to come, but for your life today so for your own sake, ‘go and sin no more.’ Jesus loves you and desires the best for you so ‘go and sin no more.’

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 319). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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