Judgment or Grace?

Judgment or Grace?

“…Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin”  (John 8:11 NIV).

John 8:1-11 tells us the story of a woman caught in adultery.  The religious leaders, the Pharisees, tried to use her sin to force Jesus to support their decision to stone her to death, which was in accordance with Mosaic law. 

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

I think this is very powerful scripture and conveys an example of prevenient grace.  I have struggled with this scripture because I felt that it contradicted Matthew 5:17-19.

17 Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Upon deeper reflection, we see that Jesus “did not come to abolish the law of Moses.”  Therefore, shouldn’t He support the stoning of the woman?  However, He gives us some insight as to the purpose of His coming when He states, “I came to accomplish their purpose.”  So, this raises the question, what was their purpose?  Not to be overly simplistic, but I feel their purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus who offers a new covenant based on grace.  The epistles of Paul clearly indicate that Christians are no longer under the rule of the Mosaic law.  This is clearly stated in Rom. 6:14; 7:1-14; Gal. 3:10-13, 24-25; 4:21; 5:1; 13; 2 Cor. 3:7-18.   It is interesting to note that the Ten Commandments were certainly a component of the law of Moses, but most modern Christians, including myself, believe they are still relevant today.

So, back to the woman that committed adultery.  Jesus did not enforce the law of Moses but showed her grace.  However, He did not condone her sin.  I think it is noteworthy that His last words to her were “Go and sin no more.”  Imagine a world in which we all offer grace to sinners (each other) and encouragement rather than judgment.  To me, this would be the answer to the Lord’s Prayer in which we pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). 

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for the daily grace that you offer us.  Please give us the wisdom and courage to offer grace to others.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

Liked this post?

Read more below or search for more topics...

  • Five Keys To Balancing Home And Work To Be A Good Parent

    Five Keys To Balancing Home And Work To Be A Good Parent "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV). Most, if not all, of us have a job in order to supply for the needs of our family. Hopefully you enjoy your job but at the end of the day, you are working to provide for your family.  We often feel the struggle between balancing work life and family life. As such, our work may sometimes cause us to miss ball games and other events and we’ll feel guilty that we’re...
  • Who Do You Listen To?

    Who Do You Listen To? "Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say" (Isaiah 28:23 NIV). Listening is essential to learning.  I hear many voices, especially on television, but I don’t really listen to them.  I hear them but am not listening.  I feel that much, if not all, of what they have to say is not important and/or is too depressing or divisive.  The story of The Transfiguration in Matthew 17 is a powerful reminder of the importance to listen to Jesus. “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led...
  • Showing Humility Is Showing Jesus

    Showing Humility Is Showing Jesus “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather; in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV).Jesus walked the earth and engaged in meaningful and transformational relationships with people.  Today, we are called to be in relationship with Him and with others.  But how can we be the Face of God to others in our relationships?  Some may dismiss this notion out of hand because we are not Jesus.  How can we be expected to show His face?The simple...