3 Days Of Redemption Stories With Arms Open Wide

Day 1 of 3 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Adulteress


Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. -MICAH 7:18–19


The long night in her cell had given her time to think, time to regret, and time to fear the terror that awaited her with the morning light. What a fool she had been—a fool to believe he loved her, a fool to tell herself over and again the lie she needed to believe the most . . . 


“Just one more time.”


As hard as she tried, she just could not get out of her mind the image of him walking away into the night, a bag of temple silver jingling in his hand as they led her alone to her condemnation. He never even looked back.


How exactly does one commit adultery alone? she laughed ruefully to her-self. The religious leaders, however, did not seem especially worried about logistics. She was just a woman, after all.


She knew all too well the horrors she would endure with the sun’s rising. She would be publicly accused and humiliated. Then she would likely die a painful death as neighbors and strangers alike tossed curses and stones at her from the secure anonymity of a mob.


The room lightened slowly until, at last, the first rays of morning sun began to filter into the cell from a narrow window near the ceiling. Moments later, the guards pushed open the heavy wooden door, crossed the room to where she was sitting, and roughly pulled her to her feet.


The Pharisees were waiting in the courtyard, resplendent in their rich, flowing robes. They preceded her into the street and began to call out her crime to the good citizens of Jerusalem.


“Adulteress! Caught in the very act!”


Soon a large crowd began following them. They shouted and spit at her as the guards harshly shoved her onward. She began sobbing in terror and shame, which seemed to anger the crowd all the more. Then she stumbled and fell.


Get her up,” someone snarled in disgust. The guards pulled her from the dust and shoved her forward once again.


To her dismay, she realized the mob was driving her straight to the temple.


Soon, they entered the temple gate, crossed the beautiful, patterned floor of the Court of Women, and went straight to where a crowd had already gathered around a seated Rabbi for an early morning lesson. They made her stand in the midst of the crowd before Him.


Shaking convulsively for a moment, she then collapsed to the ground with her face pressed to the dust before she was once again forced to her feet to stand, humiliated, before the crowd.


The Roman soldiers lining the roof of the cloister nearby tightened their grip on their swords and watched warily, ready to strike in a moment’s notice if the scene boiled over into an uprising.


Tension filled the air as the leader of the Pharisees began walking around her, raising his hand to silence the mob. Soon her quiet whimpering was the only sound in the temple courts. The Pharisee turned to address the Rabbi, Jesus, in a voice loud enough for all to hear.


“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned.”


He paused and with just a hint of a smile asked, “But what do You say?” (John 8:4–5 NKJV).


She kept her eyes to the ground but could feel the heavy weight of the crowd’s stares.


There was one Man, however, who refused to stare. Jesus did not answer the Pharisee, but remained in His seat and bent over to write in the dust.


The Pharisees and Sadducees would not be silenced so easily. They began interrogating Jesus, demanding that He answer their question. Would Jesus violate Roman law and send her to her death, or would He stand for moral injustice and let her go? It was a no-win situation, which is just what these leaders of the synagogue had been working to achieve. Besides, everyone knew Jesus had a terrible soft spot for sinners. For the Pharisees and Sadducees, victory was so close they could almost taste it.


Finally, Jesus lifted His finger from the dust and straightened up to face them and pronounce His verdict.


“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).


Then He bent over and began writing in the dirt again, signaling to them that the matter was settled.


A murmur passed through the crowd as the Pharisees whispered among themselves, trying to decide their next move.


Jesus wrote in the dust. The woman wept.


At the back of the group of leaders, the oldest Pharisee was the first to recognize that they were beaten and quietly slipped away.


Then, one by one, the others followed until only she was left standing before Jesus, awaiting His judgment.


She was stunned. Moments before, a crowd had screamed for her blood, and somehow this Rabbi who did not even know her name had stepped into the Pharisees’ cross-hairs for her, to take her place as the target of their condemnation and rage. She knew the incident was not over for Him. They would not forget such a humiliating loss on their home turf.


Jesus straightened once again, looked at her, and softly asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”


“No one, sir,” she whispered through her tears.


“Then neither do I condemn you,” He said. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10–11).




Prayer


Light of the World,


Grant me the grace to withstand the wooing of the deceiver. Remind me daily that he preys on me when I am the most vulnerable, luring me into sin only to condemn me when I fall. By Your power may I quickly turn to You when my heart is broken, and may I find in You my deepest longings fulfilled. For in You I find blessing without sorrow; in You I find fullness of joy. Ever shine Your light into the darkness of my grief, my sin, my cavernous need . . .


Keep me near.


Amen.