John 8.11
Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Reflection: Taking Sin Seriously
By John Tillman

Some might summarize this passage like this: The Pharisees catch a woman in adultery but Jesus lets her go. Except that’s not what happened at all.

Jesus is not a kind, loving, pushover who winks at adultery and doesn’t take sin seriously. 

To think this, ignores Christ’s words to the woman, and his actions in the remainder of the gospel of John. Jesus takes sin far more seriously than anyone in this entire scene. (The absence of the woman’s sexual partner shows that the Pharisees don’t take the law or sin seriously. They are only using the woman as a prop—an object for their object lesson.)

But sin is deadly serious business to the one who came to die for sins.

“Go now and leave your life of sin,” is an unambiguous acknowledgement of the fact of the woman’s sin and an unmistakable command to repent. Christ does not condemn her, because he is taking her condemnation on himself.

Jesus is not a distributor of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would describe as “cheap grace:”

“Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before.

Costly grace is…costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.”

The true grace Jesus offers is costly. It is so costly that the wealthy, rich, powerful members of society drop their stones and walk away from it. They cannot bear the cost to their pride. It is so costly the lustful won’t look at it. It is too costly for them to give up their lusts.

Jesus doesn’t “let the woman go.” He sends her out. Jesus, instead of taking the woman’s life, redeems it. He buys it for his own.

When we see ourselves in this passage, we should not see ourselves as members of the crowd, shamed into forgiving the woman and dropping our stones. We should see ourselves as the shamed woman, freed and sent out to live anew.

We have been bought with a price and sent into the world, leaving our lives of sin.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me. — Psalm 31.3

Today’s Readings
Exodus 29 (Listen – 6:23)
John 8 (Listen – 7:33)

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Read more about A Singular Plea In Prayer
Christ died for nobody but real sinners, those who feel that their sin is truly sin. — Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read more about Choosing Christ
Though it is fairly palatable to accept Jesus as a man, or even an inspiring moral teacher, choosing him as Christ and Lord comes at a cost—socially, professionally, and otherwise.