Free and Free Indeed
by Charmain Hibberd
Creative Media Assistant, CBN Europe
Imagine getting yourself in such an unimaginable tangled mess that nothing you can conceive will unravel it. Hold that thought and read on to discover what can happen and what did happen when one woman met Jesus…
A Twist in the Story
I often empathise with the story of the woman caught in adultery from the Bible.
This is not because I have been unfaithful to my husband (I’m not married!) but because I can relate to getting yourself into a tangled mess – and having Jesus unravel that mess with one touch.
If you are not familiar with how the account goes, here is an overview:
A woman is caught in the act of adultery and is dragged into the centre of the temple by some Pharisees to be held to account. The Pharisees accuse the woman of her crime and recount to Jesus the appropriate part of the law of Moses for such a crime, stoning.
But there was a twist.
The Pharisees most likely had little concern for the woman nor her crime but were trying to trap Jesus into giving a false verdict so that they would have evidence to accuse Him.
Jesus, likely knowing their thoughts and motivations, simply stoops and begins to write in the ground with His finger. Interestingly, we’re not told what He is writing. After being pressed by the Pharisees for a verdict on the matter, Jesus says a beautiful and freeing sentence that reveals the nature of His heart.
‘The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 CSB)
Jesus then returns to writing in the dust with His finger. One by one the men surrounding the woman leave without casting a single stone. Jesus then encourages the woman to go and leave her life of sin.
‘But there was a twist…’
Truly, Really Free
To me, this is the essence of the beauty and power of the Gospel. Jesus – as holy and perfect as He is – had every right to condemn the woman yet, of all the people surrounding the woman, He was the one to release her.
The Bible tells us that if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36). Some translations say that you will be truly free, or really free. The sentiment being that if Jesus frees you, you will experience freedom in all its fullness.
Have you ever committed a sin that you felt was too far gone for you to be forgiven?
Imagine being caught in that act, dragged before a judge only to be told that you have been pardoned of your sin and encouraged not to repeat the sin that entangled you.
Think of the overwhelming relief you would feel!
The Gospel has the power to break every chain that binds you. The Bible tells us, ‘So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.’ (Galatians 5:1 NLT)
‘Imagine being caught in that act, dragged before a judge only to be told that you have been pardoned of your sin and encouraged not to repeat the sin that entangled you.‘
The Law and Grace
When we receive our freedom, we should not use that pardon as an excuse to continue in our sin but as a release to not be tied to our sinful behaviour anymore.
It was the law that condemned the woman caught in adultery, but it was the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that set her free. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfil it (see Matthew 5:17). Jesus came to present the Gospel which, if anything, demands more of us.
We are told in the law that we are not to murder. Jesus demands that if we are even angry with a brother or sister, we are subject to judgement. Similarly, we are told in the law not to commit adultery, but the Gospel that Jesus brought tells us that if we even look with lust upon another, we have already committed sin with them in our hearts.
The Gospel demands more of us than the law ever did but in the most beautiful way. It encourages us to pursue holiness with the added grace that if we fall short, we are not condemned, we are forgiven.
Why not read the account of the woman caught in adultery for yourself –it can be found in John 8:2-11. Allow the scene to unfold in your mind and, if you can, cast yourself as the woman. Feel the fear of her predicament then encounter the relief of Jesus’s words – “Neither do I condemn you.”
If you are struggling with sin, know this: the One who loves you most is the One who is able to set you free. And once freed, you will know true freedom.