“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Newer translations of the Bible include a footnote with this story, saying that it is not found in the earliest manuscripts. I hope this “messiness” of the Bible does not trouble you. It shouldn’t. Rather, we can recognize that the perfect Word of God entered a messy world and picked up some scars, but still tells us plainly that while no one is perfect, Jesus gives us space.
Jesus gave space for this crowd to go home shame-faced. They expected to jeer and throw stones at a “fallen woman.” He challenged them to look into their own hearts to see if they were sinless before throwing the first stone. Then he drew in the sand while they all slinked away, now seeing their own faults a little more clearly.
Jesus gave space to the woman too. The officials had dragged her before him to test his ability to judge, not realizing that he would one day be the Judge over all. But Jesus does not rush to judge this woman. He does not condone her actions, but he gives her space to change: “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus gives us space to realize that sin does not have us trapped. We can, by his grace and Spirit, leave our sinning behind—big and small.
There is some space before the new year begins. Is this not a great idea for 2013: “Leave your life of sin”?
Father in heaven, as I reflect on the past year and move to the new year, help me leave my old sins behind—and the guilt that goes with them. In your mercy, Lord. Amen.
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