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. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
It wasn’t just the shame of her sin, but also the shame of everyone knowing her sin and being publicly accused of that sin. It wasn’t just the shame of her sin, but also the prospect of being killed for that sin right there on the spot. It wasn’t just the angry mob of Pharisees who had brought her here for judgment, but it was this man writing on the ground, a man who had authority. It was, in fact, God among them, who had the right to judge and pronounce His sentence upon her.
So what must it have been like when all of her accusers walked away? What must she have been thinking to see those men depart one by one without casting a single stone at her? Then she is left face-to-face with Jesus, and He was not eager to punish and to condemn her, but He was willing to show mercy. He was willing to be kind. He was willing to give her a chance to change her ways, to change her life, to make a different choice.
Jesus does the same for us when we are caught in the shame of sin. He doesn’t condemn, but He chooses to show us mercy and give us a chance to do better. The woman was to go away different than she came from having experienced Jesus’ mercy, and we are, too. We are not forgiven of our sins by Jesus Christ so that we can just keep on sinning and doing as we please. But instead we are to pursue the life of holiness that Jesus calls us to.
There are many accusers who will gleefully point out all of our faults and mistakes and bring up every sin that we fall into. There are many who would gladly condemn us for everything we do wrong. But Jesus silences all those voices. There is Jesus, who knows everything about us, who hates the sin within us, but who comes to us in our most shameful state and pours out His refreshing love and mercy upon us. We don’t deserve it, but aren’t we grateful for it? And then once we are saved and in Christ, there is no condemnation, and we can live set free from that shame for good. We can go away, like that woman, uncondemned, forgiven, and free to make better choices that honor God.