We turn the television off, shaking our heads in disappointment. How many more news stories will we hear that broadcast the suffering of the marginalized at the hands of those in power? Racism, sexism, classism—they are all injustices that God opposes. Not only do we find these stories in our modern news outlets, but the Bible recounts heartbreaking stories that demonstrate the depth and extent of humanity’s brokenness. Like our stories today, the privileged and powerful took advantage of those of lesser socioeconomic status, threatening their very lives. But Jesus cares about those who live on the fringes of society, those whom others turn up their noses at. Today we turn to John 8 and see how Jesus rightly shows the balance between standing up against injustice and extending mercy and compassion.
Unlike the Samaritan woman, this woman had been caught in an act of sin and ostracized because of it.
Picture it. In the early verses of John 8, Jesus was teaching the crowd. He was interrupted by the religious rulers, who had brought a woman with them. What was the reason? They accused her of adultery, having caught her in the very act. And they demanded that Jesus condone her to be stoned to death. What must the crowd have thought? What must that have been like for the woman, to be caught in the act but also to be brought before the public in such a shameful way? Perhaps her friends and family members were in the crowd also.
But John reveals this was a setup, having nothing to do with the woman or condemning sin. The Pharisees wanted to condemn Jesus and bring some charge against him that would finally drive him out of town.
How cruel of these leaders. Instead of responding with a definitive yes or no, Jesus looked at them and demanded that the one who was without sin should be the one to throw a stone at her. He refused to let those in power take advantage of the outcast for their evil purposes. Neither did he allow the marginalized woman to remain in her brokenness. He said to her, “Go your way and sin no more.” What a healing and virtuous moment.