John 8: 1–11
Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
“We look at the sky, there are many, many stars; but when the sun rises in the morning, the light is such that we can’t see the stars. God’s mercy is like that: a great light of love and tenderness.’ So when Jesus acts as confessor to the woman he does not humiliate her, he does not say: ‘What have you done? When did you do it? How did you do it? With whom did you do it?’ No! He says: ‘Go and do not sin again!’ God’s mercy is great, Jesus’s mercy is great.
We find the warm and open heart of Jesus hard to take. It seems too good to be true that God is so forgiving. One way to understand God’s mercy is to allow ourselves be forgiven and show mercy. It is the sort of mercy a parent shows when they still believe in their child who has done great wrong. Trainee teaches were sometimes told – ‘when a child really drives you mad, remember he has a mother who loves him’! A help to show mercy is to see the mercy in the eye of God for someone with whom we have a big difference.
Mercy when we receive it helps us show mercy ourselves. When we are hard on others, it’s sometimes because we are hard on ourselves and cannot really believe we are loved. The light of God’s mercy is bright enough that you can no longer see the stars that are our sins and faults and failings. Maybe Jesus means something like this when he says that he is the light of the world.