Forgiveness, Yes or No?

“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared,
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:11 (NIV)

It is infrequent that I get to hear a sermon. One of my regular employments is preaching. Hence I am busy when sermons are preached, preaching myself. Those rare occasions when I sit with the congregation to hear the Word of God explained are very important to me. It is like the family member who always prepares the meals going out for dinner.

On this occasion the preacher was expounding the story in John 8:1-11 to us. The story is indeed a fitting description of how Jesus operates with us as sinners. Religious leaders had caught a couple in the act of adultery and brought the woman to Jesus for trial. Jewish law stated that both the man and woman were to be put to death Leviticus 20:10. Immediately we see that the leaders were not concerned about the law being broken or else the guilty man would have been brought to Jesus as well.

By the way they approach the issue they seem to be laying a trap for Jesus. If Jesus said that they ought to fulfil Leviticus 20:10 then the leaders could go to the Roman government and accuse Jesus of breaking Roman law. It was not legal for Jews on their own, without the consent of the Romans, to execute anyone except for violation of the temple. On the other hand, if Jesus excused her they could go to the Jews and say that Jesus did not uphold the Old Testament.

Either way, yes or no, Jesus was the real victim here. So the trap was set waiting to be sprung. Jesus, however, found a third alternative and employed it against the accusers. He called on the one among them who did not have any sin to cast the first stone. It was a subtle way of getting them to confess that they too had committed sins.

Starting with the oldest they all left. Perhaps the oldest left first as they had the most sins to recall. It is fascinating to realise that the only one there who had never sinned was Jesus and He did not cast a stone. Instead He told her to go and stop sinning.

That is the story in a nut shell. What disturbed me when listening to the sermon by the preacher that day about this incident was that the preacher said Jesus forgave the woman. If you read the story you will see that Jesus did not forgive her He, instead, told her to repent, to change the direction of her life, to start living as God her Creator intended. We do not learn from the text if she was forgiven or not.

To have God’s forgiveness we must turn from our sin. In Luke 13:3, 5 we have Jesus saying twice in one context that if we do not repent and thus turn from our sin we shall perish. Clearly Jesus desired the woman to turn and embrace the forgiveness freely offered to all. The most important thing in life is not what we accomplish for the here and now. Rather what is of utmost importance is to hear the call of Jesus to turn to Him and away from sin.

Whatever is in your life that is undesirable is secondary to gaining forgiveness by God. If you have turned to Jesus you have the greatest treasure life offers. You have Jesus and eternal life. You have what is best and most important. Nothing that comes your way can ever take Jesus from you. Treasure Him as He deserves. Whatever you wish to be rid of in your life now, remember it will only be here in this life. Jesus you will have forever.

Can you accept the problem if you have Jesus? Do you have the forgiveness Jesus offers, yes or no?

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