Pascal said: “Truly it is an evil to be full of faults, but it is a still greater evil to be full of them, and to be unable to recognize them.”
People are divided into two groups; not guilty, and righteous but. That is, guilty people who refuse to acknowledge their wrongs, and guilty people who do acknowledge their wrongs.
In our passage today we see Jesus again in the temple court teaching, the crowds start to gather around Him. Just yesterday some officers of the temple were sent to arrest Jesus, but because He was so authoritative in His teaching they couldn’t do it. They were mesmerized by what He had to say, along with the crowd. So today a group of the pharisees came themselves to trap Jesus. They interrupt His teaching by dragging a woman who they say they caught, in the very act of adultery, into the temple, into the midst of the crowd gathered, in front of Jesus.
Adultery takes two, but this woman stands alone, terrified, defenseless, humiliated, guilty, she cowers in fear in front of the crowd, and Jesus. John makes it clear in his text that the pharisees have less interest in punishing a crime than they do in setting a trap of Jesus. The law of Moses allows for the stoning of adulterers, but Roman law forbids the Jews from carrying out capital punishment. Who will Jesus obey?
To the audience gathered, there are two categories of actors on the stage. 1. The guilty woman caught red-handed, ( sinners who must admit they are). 2. The righteous accusers, who are religious profiteers, ( sinners who won’t admit they are).
Jesus looks to the crowd, including the Pharisees, and demolishes one of the categories, ” if any of you are without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one all the accusers and the crowd slip away.
Jesus looks at the women and asks, ” woman where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “Then neither do I, go and leave your life of sin.”
John 3.17 “For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Two categories, sinners who admit, and sinners who deny. This is the “catch” to grace, which is the unearned, unmerited favor of God, it must be received. This is the door to grace, knowing you are the sinner, and believing Jesus is the savior. Grace is what separates Christianity from all other world religions.
C.S. Lewis said about grace, “it is simply a description of what going back is like.” Think of the story of the prodigal son who repented and went back. What he found was grace.
Hebrews 4.16 ” Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace where we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need.”