What we can learn from Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery

By Ben Aguilera

Christians spend a lot of time talking about love. Sometimes I wonder if we use the word “love” so much that we forget its powerful meaning.

Here’s how powerful love is:

Jesus wakes up early one morning to go to the temple. While he is teaching, religious leaders rush to him, dragging a woman behind them. They throw her on the floor near the feet of Jesus and yell that she has just been caught in an act of adultery. Then they test Jesus, reminding him of the law of Moses and asking him if they should begin stoning the woman. Jesus, after compassionately looking at the woman, stoops down and draws something in the sand. Then he stands back up and says, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

After Jesus says this, the religious leaders begin to walk away, one by one. Jesus, disregarding the violent requirements of the law, looks at the woman and tells her to go and sin no more.

This is the power of love. In this story, Jesus knows the law and he knows her sin, but he looks beyond them to a person who is obviously a broken reflection of God.

Jesus sees the woman’s truest self, a reflection of God’s perfect love created in his image. Knowing that the religious leaders were trying to trick him, Jesus took the route of love, even though it meant he himself could be stoned.

Are we not supposed to live and love like Jesus? This story calls us to see ourselves and our neighbors as reflections of God. Living through this powerful love will not only change the way you view yourself, but it will change the way you view the world. This love is not a cheap love; it calls us to action.

As the church, let’s not forget the power of love or neglect our call to defend the orphans and widows and to love the immigrants in our midst. Our prayer must be that the Holy Spirit reveal to us our own blind spots, the planks in our vision, so that we see our neighbor—through love’s power—as a reflection of God.

Ben Aguilera is pastor of community and global engagement at Christ Memorial Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan. “My Voice” shares the views and experiences of RCA women and men between the ages of 18 and 29.