The Light of the World
“I am the Light of the World; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life"—John 8:12.
Dust swirls about the crowded street as angry men drag her from her bedroom into the broad daylight. Busted. Caught in the very act of adultery. In that culture, sex was not only assumed to be for marriage, but also adultery was punishable by death. This moment wasn’t really about her though—or the man with whom she was sleeping. This moment was a trap set for Jesus. Would He uphold the law or would He pardon the condemned?
Condemned, she was for sure. The men who dragged her into the temple courtyard seethed with contempt and scorn. They judged her actions and called for punishment. “Stone her!” they cried. And then all eyes turned to Jesus. What would Jesus do?
The woman stood before Him, haggard. Head down, afraid to look up, and too ashamed to do so. She wasn’t proud or angry... she was hurt. She’d been looking for love, and this is what she found instead. Where was the man she was sleeping with? He certainly wasn’t there to defend her. Alone and afraid, she awaited her accusers.
These religious leaders really didn’t care about her; it was Jesus they were interested in. She was just a pawn in their little game of religious chess. Would Jesus walk into their carefully crafted trap?
Jesus knew their motives, just as He knows every heart. Instead of facing their challenge head on, Jesus slowly and deliberately began to write on the ground. What did He write that day? Some speculate He wrote the Ten Commandments; others think He wrote the words He spoke to the crowd, “He, who is without sin, can cast the first stone.”
Jesus did it again. Stunning the crowd and confounding the guilty, He met their challenge and opened their eyes to see the situation as He did... through eyes of mercy. A light dawned in darkened hearts. The Scripture tells us that one by one the men dropped their stones and walked away, each realizing that they had no grounds to condemn this woman to death for they, too, had sinned.
In conclusion to this story (John 8:2–12), Jesus turns to the woman after all of her condemners have walked away and asks her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replies, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus says to her, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Let’s not miss the fact that the only person who had the right to judge the woman for her sin, was God Himself. Instead of condemnation, Jesus, responds to her with the offer of grace and a new beginning.
Forgiveness and grace—that is the message of Jesus Christ. He reaches out to us in our pain, shame, and brokenness and offers us a fresh start. This is one of my favorite moments in the life of Jesus. I have shared this story of grace at over 70 college campuses and each time, you can hear a pin drop. All of us carry darkness in our souls for which we feel ashamed. We may not be the adulteress woman, but in some way we have broken God’s holy law and we know we need mercy.
This scene of God’s incredible mercy is the context for today’s name of Christ. As the condemners shuffled away, Jesus looked at the crowd still gathered and said these words, “I am the Light of the World; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” Sure, Jesus forgave the woman of her sin, but much more than than that… He offered her a way out of her mess. He rescued her out of the darkness and brought her into the Kingdom of Light.
The birth of our Savior who is the Light of the World invading the domain of darkness to free those held captive. Dear friends, let’s rejoice at the birth of our Liberator, The Light of the World!
More Scriptures to Ponder: Colossians 1:13; Psalms 27
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