Did No One Condemn You?

In my first post on this topic, I showed how what we know today as “slut shaming” happened in the Bible in the account of the woman caught in adultery in John 8.

In this post, I will explore how Jesus handled the issue and what that means for us.

We pick up the story after Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees, “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 AMP)

The Bible then says that at Jesus’ response, the scribes and Pharisees began to leave, “one by one, starting with the oldest ones” (John 8:9 AMP).

Isn’t it interesting that the oldest ones left first?

I wonder if Jesus was referring to sin in general, or a specific sin? Was he perhaps implying that the scribes and Pharisees have also sinned by only presenting one of the guilty party? As I mentioned in the previous post, the law of Moses says that both the man and the woman who committed adultery were to be put to death (see Deuteronomy 22:22-24).

Surely the scribes and Pharisees knew what the Mosaic law stated, but why is it that they only brought the woman for judgement?

In a recent message, Kris Vallotton explained that sin is something you know is wrong, but you do anyway. I know that any one of us can think of something we did in our lives that we knew was wrong, and I reckon it was the same for each of those scribes and Pharisees.

And based on this line of thought, the scribes and Pharisees were sinning by bringing only the woman to be judged.

So, at Jesus’ statement, were the scribes and Pharisees convicted that they only brought the woman for judgement, and not the man as well?

The Bible does not specify, but it does say that all of them left. Whether it was this specific incident or another account of sin, clearly each one of them was aware they had sinned in their lives.

When all of them had gone, only Jesus and the woman were left.

This next part is beautiful and I absolutely love how Jesus responds to her. (I love how He handles the whole situation, but this bit is especially good).

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

John 8:10-11 AMP

Maybe it’s just me, but when I read Jesus’ question to the woman, I hear Him say it in a knowing tone, as though Jesus knew no one was going to throw a stone. I mean, of course He knew they weren’t going to throw a stone, I guess I just picture Jesus being very calm and composed in this dialogue.

And can you imagine how the woman must have felt? Here she is, being dragged out in public, to the temple court – a holy place – and thrown into the center of it, in front of the new, and increasingly famous Teacher. Who knows what state she would have been in – physical and emotional? Did she even have clothes to cover herself? I can only imagine the shame she must have felt.

And can you imagine her fear when Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone?” I wonder if she closed her eyes and braced herself for the strike of that stone.

Did she keep her eyes closed as they were all leaving, growing in fear as the time dragged on?

Did she still have her eyes closed when Jesus asked where they were?

Did relief and surprise wash over her as she looked up to see there was no one left except her and Jesus?

I think Jesus was looking at her, intently as only He can, when she looked around and saw no one left.

The next part is pivotal for the woman and for us: Jesus does not ignore her sin, but He does extend an invitation to a new life.

Jesus, the only One who is without sin and who could condemn her, does not. And He tells her so.

And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

John 8:11 AMP

Here, Jesus reinforces that what the woman did was wrong, but He tells her that she is not condemned. Instead, she now has the opportunity for another chance and to make better choices for her life. Here, she encountered the good news – the Gospel – and she was given the chance to take hold of it and start a new life.

And I reckon she took Jesus up on that offer.

It would not be many people in that time who would have been given another chance after being caught like that, so I think this woman appreciated the enormity of the grace she’d been given.

What does this mean for us today?

We are frequently given the opportunity to shame (condemn) people for things they do. While not all, so much of people’s lives is put out in the open on social and mainstream media. It’s so easy for us to make comments and judgements based on what we see (and assume).

Similarly, we may be facing public shame with the things we’ve done being publicly exposed to humiliate us.

Don’t get me wrong, if we did something wrong it needs to be dealt with, but it needs to be dealt with in the way Jesus did.

He did not give voice to the accusers, nor indulge their purposes. He nullified their accusations by showing that no one is without sin – that includes them. But neither did He ignore sin or simply dismiss a wrong act. He acknowledged it, but put just as much focus on the repentance, the turning to a new and better way of life, as He did on the sin.

So while we might jump to conclusions about the things we see and hear, whether those conclusions are correct or incorrect, we do not need to let our actions follow those conclusions. We can make conscious decisions to extend grace, just like Jesus did, because we know that we have also been in situations that would have called for us to be condemned.

This is not a hard thing to do, but it does take a conscious effort on our part.

Yet in doing so, we ourselves get to encounter the Gospel anew.

Photo by Kevin Jesus Horacio on Unsplash

One thought on ““Slut Shaming” and the Gospel: Part 2

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