For the past couple of mornings I’ve been stuck at the beginning of chapter eight in the book of John. You know, the part where a woman who was caught in adultery was drug in front of Jesus by the Pharisees so that they could catch him in a trap and have a valid reason to bring charges against him. At first glance this story seems so simple. But as I read it over and over again, I’m completely captivated by the profound depth and truth that lies in the midst of those typed words. This is not just a story of how Jesus made evil schemes fall to the ground empty and powerless. It’s a story that allows us to glimpse the depth of God’s love for the least of the least and the power and freedom that comes with His grace.
I can’t imagine how that woman felt… I mean, first off just by being a woman she was considered lesser than, of no importance, disposable. But by being caught sinning, adulterating no less, she was considered the least of the least. She wasn’t even worthy of the life that she had been given. She deserved a publicly humiliating death. That’s bad enough, but to be drug in front of the Saviour, with all of her faults and all of her shortcomings blatantly exposed… I can’t imagine the shame and the worthlessness that overcame her in those moments.
But Jesus, he doesn’t condemn her; he doesn’t berate or reprimand. Rather, he made foolish the Pharisees attempts to put her to shame simply to further their own agenda. The Saviour of the world looked upon her and saw her for who she was: a beautiful daughter of the Father who was worthy of abundant life and love, and he told her that he had grace, even for her, even for the least of the least.
There’s one quote by John Piper that says so simply, so powerfully what grace is in its fullness. It’s this:
“Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.”
Ladies, when we are faced with shame and guilt, whether it be put upon us by others or even ourselves, let us remember this story and set our hope fully on the grace brought to us by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13b).