All three of these passages have been explained, taught, and preached by preachers and teachers with vastly more Bible knowledge and eloquence than me. There could be many lessons taken from each of these passages, and each could be beneficially taught to both believers and non-believers. Since I am not writing a book here, I will just focus on a few key points I feel are relevant to today. What is it that Jesus does and doesn’t do?
These three women have a common thread binding them together.
They all encounter Jesus? They do, but they each do it quite differently. The John 4 woman acts out of habit and by choice and so encounters Jesus at a place she frequents. The John 8 woman was forcibly taken from one place to another and thrust into an encounter with Jesus. We don’t know if these two had even heard of Jesus before their encounters. The Luke 36 woman knew of Jesus and purposefully sought Him out. So, yes, they all met Jesus, but that’s not the common thread.
They were all sinners. This is the common thread. In each account, we see a woman who is publicly known to be a sinful woman. Ah, but isn’t that the common thread that binds all mankind? We’ll get to that.
All three woman met Jesus on different terms, under different circumstances. Yet Jesus' interaction with each is the same. This is the lesson I want to underscore. This is the lesson that needs to replace the vitriol being spewed in mainstream and social media. Jesus knew they were sinners, and He loved them. They each came to Him under different circumstances with differing levels of perceived guilt for their sins, and He loved them all the same. That’s what Jesus does. He loves.
Christians are to be reflectors, mirrors of Jesus to the world. From these stories, how do we reflect Jesus? We love. We are tender, compassionate, and merciful. When a sinner encounters us, how would they describe our reaction? How would they describe the Jesus we proclaim to be shining into a dark world? Is He a Jesus of fire and brimstone, full of disgust and disdain? Is that the Jesus I want to encounter? Remember, I, we, all are sinners. Do they see a Jesus who first loves and comforts someone who may feel they are beaten down, worthless, and unwanted? This is the Jesus Christians should be introducing to the world. (I know Jesus was harsh and stern and proclaimed judgement, too, but that was always to the religious elite, hypocrites who should have known better. Maybe that is a discussion for another time.)
Christians are to be reflectors, mirrors of Jesus to the world. In each situation, John 4 & 8 and Luke 7, Jesus loves, but He doesn’t leave. Jesus is holy, beyond our comprehension of holiness. He will not allow sin to remain in His presence. So, what does Jesus do? Does he start banging these sinners over the head with a scroll of scripture? No. He talks to them. To not AT. First he shows love and compassion, then He points out what separates them from His holiness. That’s what Jesus doesn’t do. He doesn’t leave.
To the John 4 woman, He points out that the man she is currently with is not her husband. He lets her know that He knows. Regarding the John 8 woman, caught in the act, He tells the religious elite to go ahead and stone her, but only the one without sin could throw the first stone. They all left. The only one left to throw a stone was the only One without sin. What did He do? He acknowledged the sin, but gave her back her life, and He told her to quit the sin.
These two stories are perfect examples of non-believers who have yet to meet Jesus. People that may not know or care that they are sinning. Yet, Jesus loves and comforts. He exerts His holiness and asks for sin to be abandoned. He loves. He doesn’t leave.
I haven’t forgotten the Luke 7 woman. That’s me. That is the wretched, unworthy, unholy sinner who realizes that Jesus is Holy, that He is the Christ, and that only in Him can my sins be forgiven. This woman sought Jesus out. She placed herself in a position of vulnerability and humbled herself. She knew her broken state and sought out the One who could make her whole. And Jesus loved her. And He didn’t leave her. And He said the words that all that seek Him long to hear, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
A world divided by hate and judgement, needs to encounter this Jesus. Christians that have sought Him out and experienced His grace need to reflect this Jesus. The world needs to know what Jesus does and what He doesn’t do. He loves. He doesn’t leave.