Though we sing and preach about it all the time, we don’t know much about grace. Yes, we might say, God’s grace is the undeserved, unmerited favor of God. But when it comes down to it, most of us have been raised to believe that unless one works for something we haven’t earned it.
Yes, we are to work for our wages. But when it comes to our relationship with Jesus we can’t work for our salvation; it’s all grace. We could never deserve our salvation. We are the recipients of God’s undeserved kindness (Ephesians 2:1-10). We do not work for our salvation; we work for God because of our salvation. The extra-canonical, John-like story of the woman caught in adultery is a perfect example of God’s grace.
A lawbreaker is caught (John 8:2-6a). Here’s the story. An unnamed woman is hauled before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees. She’s been caught in the very act of adultery. This incident happened in the early morning hours, which means they may have been intentionally following this woman. How sick. These sadistic, snooping leaders think they have Jesus in a theological dilemma. They want to trap Jesus in His own words.
They had heard Jesus preach enough times to know that He had said two seemingly contradictory things. First, that He had come to uphold the law. And second, that He was a man of forgiveness and grace. If Jesus lets her go, He’s broken the law (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-24). If He condemns her, He’s not a man of grace.
The lawbreaker is a sinner, (John 8:6b.-9). As this half-clad woman of the night stands before the judgment bar of Jesus, He begins doodling in the dirt. Would you not love to know what He wrote? A variety of theories have been set forth, some more plausible than others. We’re not told.
What we are told is that Jesus takes the horns of their theological dilemma and turns it on its head. He looks up and says, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7).
Jesus puts these arrogant men in a dilemma. If they start throwing rocks, they’re essentially saying they’re without sin, and they can’t do that. If they don’t start throwing rocks, they’re admitting they are sinners. Touché!
From the youngest to the oldest, they all leave. Now it’s just the two of them — the woman of sin and the righteous judge of the universe. What happens next is astounding.
The lawbreaker meets the life giver (John 8:10-11). Jesus does two things. First, He gave her grace. And second, He gave her a new standard of living. With her accusers gone, Jesus says to her, “Neither do I condemn you. … Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” If Jesus had failed to address her sin problem He would have violated the Law and lowered God’s righteous standards. If He condemned her, He would not have fulfilled His role as the Savior of sinners, the God-man full of grace and truth (John 1:14,17). Jesus did both.
And this is what Jesus does. He extends to us His grace that then sets the stage for a new way of righteous living, one not based on guilt and shame, but on grace and forgiveness. This is amazing grace. B&R