And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
We are all this woman, guilty in our sins, shamed and exposed, brought by our accusers. “She’s guilty! She’s guilty!” they cry. “There is no question about it, no denying. We are witnesses of her great sin. The law says stone her. Stone her! She deserves it, wicked woman that she is. She has broken the commandment. No mercy!” Their words sting, but perhaps even more so because we know they are true. Perhaps these words shouted out are merely echoes of the voice within us saying the same thing. We are guilty, and there’s no denying it. We deserve to die. The law says so.
But then there is Jesus, stooped down, writing on the ground, so strong in His grace, so perfectly lovely, radiating goodness and holiness. The Pharisees look on, wild and ravening like wolves hungry for destruction—not so much of the woman, but of Jesus. They shout their accusations, so self-righteous, defying God to His face. And then there is the woman, trembling and frightened, perhaps looking down in shame, bracing herself for the punishment she is sure will come.
Our accusers are all around. Satan and his own cry out against us. The world points out our imperfections. The voice in our own mind pinpoints every flaw. And ultimately even the law condemns us because we’ve fallen so short and we know it. And all these accusers cast us down at the feet of Jesus and demand justice be done, demand judgment, demand punishment, death, what we rightfully deserve. But though there is no mercy in the law, there is mercy in Jesus. Though everyone else will condemn, He will not. He doesn’t reveal the sin in us to punish us for it, but to forgive us for it. He wants us to see it for ourselves, but then He wants us to forsake it, to go and sin no more, to change and be changed by Him.
Do we truly understand the mercy of God? Do we comprehend how wretched our true condition is and how great is His love? Are we willing to come before Him, knowing we are guilty, and let Him wash away every stain and take our sin from us? If He has revealed something in our hearts that we know we need to get right, then let us do so. The voice of Jesus silences all of our accusers. The heart of Jesus offers us compassion. And a response to His call offers us restoration. He is our advocate before all who would stand against us, so let us shed our guilt and the sins of our past and stand in the midst forgiven and set free.