Psalm of Praise: Psalms 125:1-2
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
Bible Reading: John 8:3-5,7,9-11
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus,
"Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,
"Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first,
until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
I wonder, as you read this familiar story from the bible, which of the characters in it you identify with most, which of them you have sympathy with. Is it the woman accused of adultery, is it the men who accused her or is it Jesus?
I was very interested in Alison Hammond’s comments on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ after she broke down on live TV while talking about the recent resignation of Phillip Schofield. She said that her mother had always taught her ‘Use the bible as your SatNav in life.’ She then went on to quote the words ’He without sin cast the first stone.’
What Alison Hammond was referring to were Jesus’ words from today’s bible verses, words spoken to the woman accused of adultery as Jesus dealt with a problem that was designed by his adversaries to trap him. A similar media storm was created around the court case involving Prince Harry and Mirror News.
It is easy to judge the words of others or to criticise their behaviour, whether it is in politics, in the media or in our daily lives, but none of us is without sin; we all fail at times. The only person in a position to judge, the only person without sin, is Jesus. And when all the men in our reading had walked away ashamed, Jesus said to the woman, ‘Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more’, words that were literally her salvation.
Jesus speaks the same words to each one of us when we stand accused of sin; because of his death and resurrection we are not condemned, instead we are offered salvation.
Let us then heed his words to ’Go and sin no more’ and, when we are tempted, like the men in the bible reading, to stand in judgement of others, let us remember that we are actually more like the woman, in need of the grace of Jesus and the opportunity to make a new start.
Lord Jesus, when I am tempted to stand in judgement of others, remind me of the grace that you have poured out into my life.
Before the throne of God above.