Jesus' Greatest Touch
She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
-John 8:11, emphasis added
The loveliest picture I know of Christ's forgiveness is the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. Her story, recorded for us in John 8:1-11, represents one of the most beautiful portraits of the greatest touch of Jesus, His complete cleansing and forgiveness.
As you read this retelling of that incredible moment in Christ's ministry, watch for the contrasts between man's touch and Jesus' touch; man's countenance and Jesus' countenance; man's tone of voice and Jesus' tone of voice; man's lack of mercy and Jesus' mercy. Who would you rather face?
John 8 opens early in the morning in the wide spaces of the Temple courtyard where Jesus often taught, and crowds often gathered to hear Him. As the sun rose higher and coolness of the dawn began to melt away Jesus was seated and holding the complete attention of a growing crowd. Suddenly the sound of an angry mob shatters the quietness of Christ's message.
Surging forward are well known religious leaders, both Scribes and Pharisees. They push their way roughly through those who listened to Christ and drag a woman forward. She is dazed, unkempt, weeping and limp as they cast her in a heap at Christ's feet.
With voices of hatred, eyes of contempt, and faces hard as stone the accusation they brought is hurled at Christ like a spear. This woman was guilty of adultery; they were the witnesses-and she should be stoned. Silently Jesus took in the situation. The sobbing woman lay in a heap at His feet, like a garbage bag on the curb. The accusers were so much like their Father the Devil, who is an accuser and destroyer, just like them. Then Jesus looked at the crowd. How they needed to understand the depth of redeeming love and forgiving grace.
Jesus began to look around the circle of the accusing religious leaders, His eyes began to pierce their souls. The hatred boiling over in their souls began to burn them within. It seemed as if Jesus were looking into their minds and hearts-and they felt instantly undone before Him. The accusers felt accused, and the accused felt protected.
Then suddenly the silence was broken. Christ's admirers and haters all were now captivated by the One who spoke and acted like no one ever had done. He got down in front of the cast off bit of humanity that had been tossed at His feet. On her level he knelt and began to slowly trace letters in the dust of the marble floors. This is the only time the Gospels record Jesus writing anything-but those who watched will never forget what they felt. Starting at the oldest Jesus wrote a word, and then gazed into each of their eyes. Perhaps it was the word pride or lust or greed or liar, but no matter what He wrote the effect was always the same. The touch of Jesus' eyes made them blanch with a shudder of unearthly fear, they dropped the rock they had clutched and with downcast eyes fled Christ's presence. The other accusers couldn't stop watching and trembling as they each faced a personal Judgment Day before the Judge of All.
There is the thud of stone after stone falling on the pavement. Not many of the Pharisees are left. One by one, they creep away-like animals slinking into the shadows . . . shuffling off into the crowded streets to lose themselves in the multitudes.
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." But no stones have been thrown. They lie around the woman on the pavement. They have dropped them where they stood, and now she is left alone at the feet of Christ.
Only her sobbing breaks the stillness. She still has not lifted her head . . . And now Christ looks at her. He does not speak for a long moment. Then, with eyes full of understanding, He says softly: "Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" (John 8:10) And she answers, "No man, Lord."
That is all the woman says from beginning to end. She has no excuse for her conduct. She makes no attempt to justify what she has done.
And Christ, looking at her, seeing the tear-stained cheeks and her eyes red with weeping, seeing further into her heart, seeing the contrition there, says to her: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:11, emphasis added).
What He says here is--not that He acquits the woman, but that He forgives her. Not that He absolves her from blame, but that He absolves her from guilt. Not that He condones the act, but that He does not condemn her for it-He forgives her instead.
Perhaps He smiles upon her, as she slowly raises her eyes, a slow, sad smile of One who knew that He himself has to pay the price of that absolution. And it may be that His finger writes again in the dust, tracing this time the outline of a cross or the shape of a hill-a hill shaped like a skull.
No, we do not know her name, or where she lived, or who she was. But of this we can be sure-she was never the same again. She was a changed woman from that moment. Of that we can be sure."
God is willing to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, because the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin! The woman caught in adultery was never the same after she experienced Jesus' touch in her life! Have you received His touch-His greatest gift ever?
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