The four Gospels of the New Testament record many of the sayings and teaching of Jesus. We are gifted with a partial transcript of his wisdom, humor, correction, insight, and compassion. One of my favorites is the statement Jesus made to a woman who had been caught in the act of something punishable by death. We find it in John 8 and many, I am confident, are somewhat familiar with the story. You see there was this ongoing attempt by the religious leaders of the day to try and trip up Jesus, to discredit him, and to have him killed the latter of which Jesus submitted to when the time for his sacrificial death drew near.

So in John 8 here they come, the “religion police”, dragging with them a woman caught right in the act of adultery.  As you might expect this scene drew a crowd as many wanted to see what would become of her. At the time this all took place adultery was punishable by death.  This woman was busted and in real trouble!

"Neither do I condemn you"

“Neither do I condemn you”

The religious leaders were hoping to trick Jesus into going against the law of their land thus discrediting him and putting him in mortal jeopardy.

Well, I venture a guess that if the religious leaders of the day had known and believed that Jesus really was the Eternal Son of the Father, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and the Messiah they would not have been so silly as to try and trick him.

When they brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to him Jesus masterfully handled the situation. He looked at her accusers and wrote in the dirt saying, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” By the way where was the man with whom she’d done this act? Perhaps religious misogynism is a good future blog topic. Many scholars believe that what Jesus wrote in the dirt was some of the sins of the woman’s accusers, we really don’t know for sure but what we do know is that Jesus made a way to spare this woman’s life. Jesus took up her cause and defended her. This is greatly important to us as we read of the life and ministry of Jesus but what he actually said to this woman is, I think, most significant.

After her accusers left Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Is there no one left to condemn you? She answered, “No one Lord.” Then Jesus replied to her with the most stunning news she could have heard from the Son of God… “Then neither do I condemn you… go and stop this sin.” That is the word of the Lord to us, “Neither do I condemn you!”

Jesus himself said that he did not come into the world to condemn it but that through him the whole world might be saved. If you blow it this week, if you have already blown it, if there is a behavior or action in your life that you know is poison then knock it off but know this… no matter what Jesus does not condemn! Jesus redeems, Jesus heals, Jesus loves, Jesus brings to bear in your life the very Triune life of God that he has shared with his Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity. So while others may condemn us and pass judgment on us the One who really matters is Jesus and he says, “Neither do I condemn you!”

~Bill Winn

6 comments so far

  1. Abner on

    Why not say more about the go and sin no more part? Jesus does judge us. The Bible says that we will have to answer for everything we have ever done That is judgement! Their is no escape from having to answer for what we do in this life. Your making people believe they can do whatever they want and Jesus won’t judge them.

  2. Bill Winn on

    Abner, indeed you are right that the sum of Jesus’ words bring with them great importance. It was not my intention in this short blog to deal with the issue of “going and sinning no more”. I really wanted to communicate the Good News that Jesus does not condemn us. There is a difference between judgment and condemnation. We all make judgments every day we judge maneuvers we make while driving, whether to eat the left overs that are a bit on the fuzzy side, and even judgments about what behaviors we find appropriate. Where judgment differs from condemnation is that condemnation follows after judgment with exclusion or disdain. Jesus never excludes us or disdains us. I confess that I am unfamiliar with passages that say we will answer for everything we have done. II Cor. 5:10 does speak of an evaluation of our deeds but salvation is not the issue here. Certain behaviors and actions have no place in the Triune Kingdom of God and so wrong behaviors and actions we may bring with us into the fulness of the Kingdom must be evaluated and remedied. Remember that there is no God doing behind the back of the God who is. God is love and God does what God is… God does love. If there is judgment it may only serve the purpose of a loving Triune God. I hope this helps. Blessings, Bill

  3. kuhlmancraig on

    Well done, Bill. And long time, no talk 😦

    In reference to Abner’s comment I’m reminded of the teaching of our good friend Dr. Gary Deddo on indicatives and imperatives (loosely, in my words, relationship before rules).

    Wherever we find an imperative in Scripture, or command, or rule to be followed, it always comes after relationship (or who God has indicated he is). God shows us first who he is, and the relationship that he has forever called us into, before he gives us a command.

    Think of how the woman at the well would have considered the advice of someone who didn’t take the time to first establish relationship. When we feel loved, accepted, and included first, by someone, we are so much more ready to listen to their wisdom, advice, etc. It was because Jesus didn’t judge/condemn, that she would have been more likely to actually, go, and sin no more. Whether Jesus actually believed that in her fallen, human state, she could actually live up to that imperative, is the very reason he was sent to redeem all humanity in the first place. Truly Good News, for all us sinners.

    Stay well, my friend,

    • billwinn on

      Thanks Craig, yes indeed the objective/ subjective aspect of the Triune life of God earthed in Jesus must be a part of the conversation if we are to clearly articulate and understand the Gospel of Jesus. I too like Deddo’s use of indicative/ imperative. I’ll venture a guess that this particular language comes out of his editing background.

  4. Abner on

    So even though we are judged we are not condemned is thta what your saying? I am not sure I agree with you but ok. I bet that woman sinned again too so why would Jesus tell her not to? weird

  5. Bill Winn on

    Abner, my suspicion is that Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more not so much as a blind hope that she might actually achieve the impossible and actually stop sinning but to rhetorically state that she could not and that it is part of the reason for His being made flesh so that her sins would be washed clean by His atoning sacrifice.

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