"Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10-11).
I hope you all had a rejuvenating and life-giving break! As we continue on our journey this week, let's keep persevering, keeping the better thing ever before us as we seek to be all that God has purposed us to be. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be a people transformed, a people who reflect Him, not the world. We are called to put down anger, to love our enemies, and give to those in need (Matthew 5:43-48). We are called to forgive and extend grace to others (Matthew 18:21-22) as well as lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). We are called to be both salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16) and to not be anxious about anything (Matthew 6:25-34).
However, for us to be all these things and more, to be "perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), we can't simply try harder. In order for us to be who Christ is calling us to be, we must first experience Him as all these things for us, prompting us to break with something else, so that we can truly breakthrough and be transformed. We see Jesus model this path to transformation in John 8:1-11, where he addressed the Pharisees and the women caught in adultery:
The Break With: When asked by the Pharisees if she should be stoned, Jesus replied, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him" (John 8:7-9). Extending incredible grace rather than condemnation, Jesus himself breaks the expectation by pardoning the woman and shaming those who sought to do ill. In this radical grace, He also calls her to break with her sin and to "sin no more." Her break with becomes possible as Christ becomes what she actually wanted, needed, and desired, not what she deserved.
The Breakthrough: Following this break with, the woman has an opportunity to breakthrough: to be more than she was before she met Christ, to be more than she was when she was trapped in her sin. She encountered Christ in an incredible way, received the transforming gift of grace and the power to change. What she may have found in sin, she could now find in Jesus. In order to be light, she had to first experience the light, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). Breakthroughs come not simply through our own efforts, but only when we allow Christ to reign in our hearts, minds, and actions rather than the things that used to hold us captive.
Do we desire others to experience Christ in us and all those good things highlighted in Matthew 5-6? Do we desire to be a people transformed, leaders who are changed to change? We can begin each day by being ones who daily encounter Jesus, finding a source of hope, fulfillment, and strength way beyond what we could ever find in something else. As we seek transformation, how might we experience Christ today?