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. 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.
Perhaps it hadn’t been pointed out to her so clearly before. Surely she knew what she was doing was not good, that it was wrong somehow. But maybe she only carried some vague notion of what that meant. Perhaps breaking God’s laws and commandments didn’t matter much to her. Maybe she didn’t think very much on the concepts of righteousness and sin and how it was connected back to a holy God. But now, brought like a criminal before a judge, she stands before Jesus.
Jesus’ words about sin cut deep into the hearts of all those who had dragged the woman away from the scene of her crime. The Pharisees hoped to condemn this woman but instead went away confronted with the truth of their own hearts: They were sinners, too. And when the woman is left alone, she stands convicted herself, determined now to change, to truly go and sin no more. And that’s what Jesus does that the law cannot. He gives us a new heart that hates sin like He does. And then He frees us from its grips and enables us to change, to stop serving sin and self and Satan.
We all have sinned, and if we look honestly into our hearts, we will know that we are sinners and no better than anyone else. We may even find ourselves repulsed at the sin we discover inside of ourselves compared to what we condemn in others. Perhaps we had once gone on in ignorance, having some sense of right and wrong but not really understanding what that meant and how it all related to God. But when we see ourselves clearly for the first time and truly understand our own nature and then see Jesus standing there in His holy perfection, we see how much we need Him to be our Savior.
Conviction of their sins drove all the Pharisees away one by one, and the woman alone stood before Jesus and received His heavenly pardon. They had brought her to be judged and condemned, but Jesus gave her mercy and freedom. And He does the same for us. The Holy Spirit is still convicting us of sin, so let’s listen for His voice and then bring our sins to the feet of Jesus and receive forgiveness. And let’s not allow ourselves to get too caught up in condemning others for their sins, but instead bring them to Jesus not for judgment, but for mercy.