Ashamed and most likely in tears, what was she thinking? Did she regret the scandal she had allowed herself to be involved in, the love she had convinced herself might be real – or did she simply regret getting caught?
And then the Teacher. The One some were calling the Messiah. What was He going to say? She knew what the Law said just as any good Jewish adult would know. Yet all He did was bend down and start drawing in the sand. She could barely bring herself to look up at Him for fear of what He might say. If He was Who He said He was, she couldn’t deny that she deserved punishment. She knew, no matter the outcome, that her reputation was forever tainted.
Centuries later, I find myself in the story as this woman in the middle of the circle, the one with all fingers pointed at her and no hope for redemption. Fear and Doubt both take accusatory tones, proudly revealing my infidelity. They testify concerning my surrender to their propositions, my undeniably faithless and fickle heart.
And I cower in shame.
Because it’s true. I have no defense except my innate brokenness. I have entertained both accusers for longer than I can remember, and though it started out small – as nothing, really – it grew. And as my sin is exposed to the light, I hear the accusing voices fade, and One Voice speak.
“I do not condemn you. Choose to sin no more.”
The unexpected response draws my eyes from the dirt to the One Who speaks. The One with love in His expression and compassion for my aching heart. He offers hope from my failure and rest from the weight of sin I have been carrying around. His reaction of mercy causes me to regret even more the ways I failed, yet at the same time seems to offer freedom from that regret which I can’t refuse.
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will treat our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)
And just as the woman who was caught in adultery in John 8, I realize that my Savior sees me not as what I have done or where I have failed, but as who He has created me to be. My identity is not based in sin, but in Him, and this is what convinces me to stand up, brush the dirt off my knees and my tear-streaked face, and walk away with Him.
This place has become hallowed ground, no longer where I was incriminated but where I was redeemed.