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As we saw yesterday, the adulterous woman in John 8 was guilty. Period. Guilty of God-dishonoring sin. However, instead of allowing her to be stoned by the Pharisees, Jesus extended a ridiculous amount of grace. He did not condemn her. He did not embarrass her. And He did not stand in condescending judgment over her. We observe in this passage the gentle way in which Jesus interacted with the woman, applying both grace and truth. There are other instances, however, where Jesus’ application of truth and grace look very different. Let’s examine a few of the other interactions Jesus had with people.
Luke 23:40-43 (scene of Jesus hanging between two thieves)
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
In this story, we find Jesus being crucified along with two other men who are hanging on a cross. One of the thieves realized his guilt and then called out to Jesus. Instead of condemning the man for his sin, Jesus told him that they would soon enter heaven together.
Take a moment to compare this story to the one of the adulterous woman in John 8. What are some of the similarities in these two stories?
Now, let’s enter two more stories into the script. Observe how Jesus interacted with the money-changers in the temple and the Pharisees.
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
In the above passages, Jesus’ tone is entirely different. When you stop and compare how Jesus interacted with ignorant unbelievers versus self-righteous religious leaders, you notice a vast difference in his tone.
Questions and Reflection
- How would you describe the way Jesus interacted with the money-changers and Pharisees? What was it that caused Jesus to react so differently?
- How do these passages challenge you as you wrestle with the tension of applying grace and truth in your relationships?