Third Week in Epiphany – Tuesday
Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more. – John 8:11.
In the last autumn of His earthly sojourn, Jesus went to the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem. On the day after the feast, early in the morning, He came into the temple; “and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they said unto Him: ‘Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned; but what sayest Thou?’ This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.”
Instead of prosecuting the woman according to civil law, they wanted to ensnare the Lord Jesus in a trap by making Him both judge and executioner. But He was not going to permit Himself to be tempted to judge vindictively according to the abrogated political law of the Jews (from whom the scepter of self-government had departed, Genesis 49:10) and to deny the love and mercy to the penitent which He preached to the people. “So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself and said unto them: ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground,” now, perhaps, to let His simple word take effect. “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. And Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:2-11).
Here we see the Lord Jesus in His official capacity, not as the Judge but as the Savior of men. He had not come to condemn the world, but to save the world (John 3:17). He had not come to destroy sinners but to save them by bringing them to repentance and faith in Him as their Redeemer. Knowing the woman’s penitent heart, He did not condemn her, but He forgave her. And He said: “Sin no more,” exhorting her to bring forth God pleasing fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8), as only those can who are true believers (Hebrews 11:6 a).
And so He meets us, who are condemned by the Law and even by our own heart, and who penitently come to Him for mercy. God has graciously forgiven the sins of the world for the sake of Christ’s vicarious atonement, and He imparts that forgiveness personally to every penitent and believing sinner. Then, out of joyful gratitude for His grace, we too are to “go and sin no more,” no longer serving sin (Romans 6:6) but walking in newness of life (v. 11) “for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
PRAYER. – Kind and merciful Savior, Thou hast graciously forgiven me all my sins; and I rely on Thy forgiveness every day for the sins that so easily beset me because of my wretched flesh. Thy Law condemns me, my conscience condemns me, and men condemn me, marking all my iniquities; but there is forgiveness with Thee that Thou mayest be feared. That is my joyful confidence. Now grant me Thy Holy Spirit to the end that, from a heart filled with gratitude for Thy mercy, I may hate sin and love and serve Thee in righteousness and true holiness. Amen.
Oh, draw us ever unto Thee, Thou Friend of sinners, gracious Savior.
Help us that we may fervently desire Thy pardon, peace and favor.
When guilty conscience doth reprove, reveal to us Thy heart of love.
May we, our wretchedness beholding, see then Thy pardoning grace unfolding
and say: “To God alone all glory be! My Savior, Christ, receiveth me.”
Hymn 386, v. 5 (TLH)