Imagine you are in church one day. The church is fairly crowded. As the pastor is in the middle of his message, a government official brings a woman into the crowded church, brings her to the front where the teacher is, and in front of the church explains that she was caught in the act of cheating on her husband and that the law says that she needs to be put to death. They asked the pastor what he thought. How awkward is that? A pastor, put on the spot in the middle of a crowded church. Can you imagine that? The story goes on that he began to write on the pulpit, as the government officials kept demanding he answer. Finally the pastor stands up, and says “All right, but the one who has never sinned cast the first stone.” Grace. The free and unmerited favor of God. Grace. Giving someone what they do not deserve. The story doesn’t end there. When the accusers heard this statement they all backed away. The teacher was still with the woman at the front. Imagine if you were her. Your brokenness was just spilled to everyone in front of you… what will the pastor say? I can imagine everyone was at the edge of their seats, waiting to see what was going to happen next. The pastor says that he will not condemn her… Grace… but the story still doesn’t end there… “Go and sin no more”, he says. Grace, then love.
It can be easy to be afraid of how God will respond to our brokenness, and to try to hide from Him because of that fear. It can be easy to forget that He won’t condemn us, and to think that He is in heaven throwing things around because of how mad He is. But that is far from the truth. Jesus models that this is not the character of His Father. Read the actual Bible account of the story that I modernized here.
What is love? What I think is interesting about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t stop after He says that He wouldn’t condemn her. What if the story did stop there? What if He just said I won’t condemn you? Is it loving to only offer grace and not address what is broken? In thinking over this passage for a few months, I don’t believe that God offers us unmerited favor so we can stay in our brokenness, and so that we can keep doing what we have been doing.
After college I got into a little bit of credit card debt. What it came down to was I was irresponsible with my responsibilities. My dad saw what was going on, and helped me out of the debt. That wasn’t the end of the story. My dad had a long talk with me and I ended up closing my credit card accounts. This was probably one of the best things my dad did for me. He could have just helped me out of my debt and showed me grace, but that’s not what he did. That’s a good father, and we have a good Father in heaven who offers the same grace and love to us.
“The borrower becomes the lenders slave”
I think this scripture is true for our sins and not just what we borrow. If you think back to the scripture that I shared earlier, the woman was a slave to her sin. She was much a slave that she was almost put to death. But Jesus. Jesus came. Jesus showed her grace and love.
Jesus came to free us from what keeps us a slave. I believe He offers us both grace and love so that we live in freedom from what holds us down. Grace- “I know what you are doing, I know the cost, I am not going to condemn you”, and love- “but I don’t want you to live this way, this is not the life I have for you. I have a life for you that is free from the brokenness that you are living right now”.
Jesus came so that we can live life, and live it abundantly. Abundant. Over sufficient. Abounding. Plentiful. Life. Do you believe that for yourself? Do you believe that their is a loving Father who has arms open wide for you that will offer you a grace and love that is undeserved, but give freely anyway? You may feel like the woman must have felt. Terrified of what was ahead of her because of the mess she made. She probably didn’t expect grace and love. She received grace and love. You probably don’t expect grace and love. But He has grace and love for you. Accept it. Live free.