16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:16-17 (emphasis added)
Jesus’s absence of condemnation is demonstrated in John 8:2-11:
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus came, not to condemn, but to save. This is a comforting fact evidenced by Jesus’s response to the religious leaders in this scene. When an adulterous woman was “caught in the act,” the teachers of the law were more than eager to indict her. Not only did they want to humiliate her publicly, but this was also a trap they were setting up for Jesus (John 8:6) in case He said something wrong in the presence of many witnesses.
If you have ever been brought before the judge for a crime you committed, you would know the feeling of gratitude and relief if the judge decided to acquit you completely — with no lighter sentence — just completely scotch free. The woman did not have an attorney in her defense. She could not plead “not guilty” because she obviously was not innocent. Yet Jesus’s generous mercy demonstrated His great compassion for this lady.
The irony was that no one except Jesus was innocent. Jesus challenged anyone “without sin” to be the first to cast a stone (John 8:7). One by one, each person stepped back and walked away. Just because they did not sin in the same way as this woman did not mean they were innocent by any means. Everyone struggles differently. It is not our place to judge someone else for their weaknesses. All we can do is practice compassion like Jesus and ENCOURAGE people to repent.
King David was well acquainted with God’s mercy and man’s wrath. When David sinned against God and God gave him options of how he’d like to be punished, he chose to fall into the hands of God (2 Samuel 24:14).
Jesus knows your sins. He knows everything you have done in the past, but He still has compassion on you. Complete and absolute acceptance based on unconditional love is one of the greatest gifts in life. If receiving unconditional acceptance from another human being feels so wonderful, imagine how much greater that feeling is when you know that the Creator, Savior and Judge of the entire universe accepts you because of His unconditional love for you.
God’s mercy is great but with acceptance comes great expectations. He accepts you as you are, but this means leaving your life of sin so you can live the rest of your life to please Him (1 Peter 4:2). All we can do is keep moving forward and closer to God, leaving the past behind us.
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