Christ Alone (2)
The woman taken in adultery
I. That the VILEST SINNERS ARE OFTEN THE GREATEST ACCUSERS. Were there a worse lot of men in Judea or on the round earth than these Scribes and Pharisees, and members of the Sanhedrim, who now accused this woman? It is ever so: the more base and corrupt a man is, the more ready to charge crimes on others and the more severe in his censures.
II. That the SEVEREST JUDGE OF SINNERS IS THEIR OWN CONSCIENCE. “They which heard Him, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one.” Observe two things
1. Christ’s method of awakening their conscience.
(1) He expresses by a symbolical act His superiority over their malignant purposes. He stoops down as if He were utterly indifferent.
(2) He puts the question of the woman’s punishment upon their own consciences. “He that is without sin,” etc. Observe
2. The force of their awakened consciences. They were convicted, and went out one by one. Ah! there is no judge so severe and crushing in his sentence as that of a guilty conscience.
III. That THE GREATEST FRIEND OF SINNERS IS JESUS CHRIST. The accusers are gone, but the accused remains with Jesus alone. Observe
1. He declines pronouncing a judicial condemnation upon her. “Neither do I condemn thee.” He does not mean that He did not disapprove of her conduct and condemn her morally, but judicially. He declines to pronounce judgment.
2. He discharges her with a merciful admonition. “Go, and sin no more.” An expression, this, implying
(1) That she had sinned. Adultery is a terrible moral crime.
(2) That He forgave her. “Go.” I absolve thee.
(3) That her future should be free from sin. “Sin no more.” Let bygones be bygones; let oblivion cover thy past; let virtue crown thy future. Thus Jesus deals with sinners. Desolate, branded, forsaken of all, He alone will stand by thee. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
Christ and woman
It has been often urged, to the disparagement of Christianity, that modern civilization lacks a certain severity of tone and simplicity of manners very observable in classic antiquity; and the charge is not without a plausible foundation. But to argue that the lack is a loss or a step backward is quite another thing. In ancient times woman occupied a very inferior position; her influence upon society was hardly perceptible; consequently she scarcely entered as a moulding power into education and civilization. There was a certain severe hardness, or hardiness, if you like, characterizing men of classical lands. But Jesus Christ came into the world “made of a woman,” reproducing in His person and life the finer features of a woman. By His means female influence became a factor in the history of the world, and entered as a softening, transforming element into education and civilization; and as an inevitable result the severe manly hardness of olden times has been much tempered. The equipoise has not hitherto been definitely fixed, for the world is only in its transition state; but the recognized ideal of Christianity is indisputable—it is the happy union of masculine simplicity and firmness with feminine delicacy and grace. (J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)
Jesus’ mother was in a similar predicament.