The lump in my throat was nothing in comparison to the shame I felt upon my face.
Pharisees hands gripped my arms tightly, pulling me through the streets. They condemned me with words and truths that I knew I could now never undo. I was an adulterer, and the consequences were inescapable.
It wasn’t until I saw Him through the crowd of people that I realized where they were taking me. No, I pleaded. Don’t bring me before Him. I cannot bear to see the look He will give me, this man sent by God. It was of no use; they brought me in front of the crowd, angry sweat falling from their brows.
“Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” Each word was venom, waiting to see if He would disregard the law.
His eyes fell on my face, and I immediately turned away. I could not look at the soft kindness they held, for I did not deserve anything like it. Instead of replying to their question, He knelt down in the dust, and began to write. The Pharisees’ eyes nearly bulged from their heads, and they demanded answers. After a moment of this, He stood again and said to them, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then, He started to write in the dust once more.
My heart dropped into my stomach. Surely, I would be punished. Surely, after all I had done, I was to be put to death in front of this crowd.
One by one, they all slipped away. I kept my gaze fixed on my feet, for the shame would not allow me to lift my head. Soon, it was only He and I that remained in the center of the crowd. He rose again, and spoke to me gently. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
Tears rolled off of my cheeks as I choked out an answer. “No, Lord.”
“Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
I was never an adulterous woman, but I have longed for someone who was not mine.
I was never even a promiscuous woman, but I have wrestled with lust in my heart.
I was never exactly like the woman talked about in John chapter 8, but I have felt her grief. The story you just read was how I imagine it was for her, being dragged out in front of literally God and everybody. The shame, the fear, the total hopelessness.
Then, I imagine Jesus.
For so long in my life, I was constantly trying to make up for the things I had done, in my heart or otherwise. There was always something that I had to overcompensate for, just so God would still love me. I’m a good girl, look at all the scriptures I just read. Look, God, I sang at the top of my lungs in a worship service, I served the poor, I prayed, I did this, I did that. All of these types of things I would do and in my heart, it was as if I was saying Lord, do You see my shame still, after all this?
And you want to know what? He didn’t call me by my shame from the start.
I imagine Jesus just like He was in John 8, standing with me, the two of us. He’s not hiding His opinion, He’s in front of the whole world saying, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? Neither do I.”
I imagine Jesus looking into my eyes, and He knows. He knows that I’m not perfect, and He loves me. He looks at me, and He sees Candace, not what Candace has done.
It is now in this season, where I am more in love with Him than I ever have been before, that I know in my heart that He is good. He cares for me, contends for me, fights for me. Go and sin no more, He says, for there is so much better for you.
Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. (Isaiah 54:4)
I think a lot of us are afraid that God will see our shame and place us in the corner, waiting for us to decide to behave. We think He will see what we have done and sigh, forlornly wishing that we’d shape up. This way of thinking is ridiculous and unbiblical. Yes, unbiblical. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”
Why would God bring us to Himself and wipe away our sin, and then constantly look at our shame and punish us for it after we had repented? It doesn’t make sense. Once we have confessed to Him our sin, He will show us mercy (Proverbs 28:13), and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9).
We mess up; it’s human nature. We’ve been born into a fallen world, and mistakes happen. Sin is committed, and because we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, we feel the conviction of that sin. But once we have repented, there is good news! He has washed our slates clean, no longer seeing our shame.
This is what grips my heart time and time again. How He has loved me enough to see me without my shame, despite what the world may say. He could’ve let them stone that woman. It was the law. But because of His great mercy, His love, He saved her. He saw through all of her junk, and saw the gem that she was, who she was born to be.
When I was in my darkest hour, He was there. When I was afraid, lost, and confused, He was calling me back to Him. He didn’t stop loving me, and He never will. It doesn’t matter what I have done, He loves me.
He loves you.