Daily Good News – No Condemnation
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May 23, 2015 892
“‘Neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared” (John 8:11).
Everywhere in the ancient world, death was an acceptable punishment for a range of crimes. Jewish law named idolatry, murder and adultery as crimes punishable by death. If this woman had been caught in the act of adultery, the Jewish law said she should be stoned to death. It is interesting that the scribes and Pharisees did not bring the man with whom she was supposed to have committed adultery. Under the law, he would also have been condemned to death, probably by strangulation. This would indicate that they were using this situation to try to trap Jesus.
Did this woman, who had just been caught in the act of adultery, deserve to be condemned? Yes, according to their law. She had clearly broken the seventh commandment. Was she guilty? Definitely!
But Jesus had a reputation for love and mercy. He was called the ‘friend of sinners’. You can imagine that they were secretly smirking about the awkward position in which they were placing Jesus. If he agreed with them that she should be condemned, that reputation for love and mercy would be in tatters. If he refused to condemn her, he would be encouraging people to break the law of Moses – God’s law, the Ten Commandments.
But Scripture says, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). Jesus turned the tables, reminding them that each of them had also sinned in numerous ways, and suggesting that he knew their secret sins.
How could Jesus not condemn the woman? Because he himself was condemned and judged for her sins, so she wouldn’t be. She was free of condemnation because he would take her place in the Judgement and die for her sins. He wasn’t giving her permission to go on sinning; in fact, he was offering her a new beginning.